RSS Update on Coronavirus

March 31, 2020

Dear Members of the Rural Sociological Society,

I’m writing on behalf of myself and the RSS Executive Committee to let you know that the Executive Committee members met yesterday morning to discuss contingency planning for the RSS Annual Meeting, and the organizational implications for the Society itself in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As you may be aware, we had earlier sent out a poll to members to gather information about willingness to attend our Society’s meetings this summer, and the expected likelihood of travel disruptions created by the institutional and fiscal chaos associated with the pandemic. Not surprisingly, a clear majority of the membership expressed significant reservations about attending the Annual Meeting this summer.

We felt that it was important to ask for the direct input of the membership. But beyond that, I and the Executive Committee members have all taken very seriously the uncertainties of this pandemic, how these uncertainties may play out over time, and what our actions and decisions now might imply for not only broader public health considerations, but for the exposure of our individual members to unacceptable health risks.

 In light of this, and consistent with other professional associations and societies, we have therefore decided to cancel our 2020 meeting in Westminster, Colorado, postponing until 2021 when we meet in Burlington, Vermont. The Executive Committee was strongly unanimous that this was the best and most obvious course of action and we have informed Council. This decision was not taken lightly, and is nearly without precedent – the only other time RSS meetings were cancelled was as a consequence of the Second World War.

We are currently discussing other organizational implications of these developments for the Society. You can expect further information shortly. But for now we felt it important to inform you of this decision as regards the summer meeting for 2020 so that you may plan accordingly.

In the meantime, stay healthy, take care of yourselves, your family, friends, neighbors and communities (local and extended). We will be in touch.


Kai Schafft

Kai Schafft, RSS President
Dreamal Worthen, RSS President-Elect
Keiko Tanaka, RSS Past President
John Green, RSS Vice President
Deborah Tootle, Secretary
Cynthia Struthers, RSS Executive Director

The Rural Sociological Society (RSS)

The RSS is a professional social science association that promotes the generation, application, and dissemination of sociological knowledge. The Society seeks to enhance the quality of rural life, communities, and the environment. This website is intended to serve all those interested in rural people and places.

We seek and support a diverse and international membership of academics and practitioners who share our interests in rural people and places.

What We Do

The core activities of the Rural Sociological Society are our peer-reviewed journal, Rural Sociology, our annual conference, and support for communities of scholars concerned with specific rural topics. Through these activities, the RSS has provided leadership in scholarship, policies, and advocacy. Since its founding in 1937, the RSS has traced changes in rural life and livelihoods, demography, community structures and economies, technologies, environmental conditions, and agriculture and food systems.

Shared Values at the Rural Sociological Society

In these politically turbulent times we wish to share with others the core values that we believe animate and organize our activities as members and leaders of the Rural Sociological Society (RSS).  We believe in the free expression of ideas, in civil discourse and mutual respect among participants, and in the value of scientific research without political considerations.  We oppose actions and words that demean, exclude, and otherwise marginalize individuals and groups of different genders, races, identities, sexual orientations, and national origins.  We seek to assist vulnerable and marginalized peoples wherever they may be. 

The Benefits of Membership

Why RSS? RSS offers multiple opportunities to interact with others who share your interests in rural places both in the United States and internationally.  We have fourteen Research and Interest Groups. RSS keeps you informed of professional opportunities via our website and monthly eBulletin.  A subscription to our journal Rural Sociology is included with your membership. RSS members receive a discounted registration rate to our Annual Meeting (held late July or August each year).  RSS members take an active part in the program of the annual meeting by submitting posters, papers, panels, and organized sessions. RSS offers leadership opportunities.

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Research and Interest Groups (RIGs)

What are Research and Interest Groups? Research and Interest Groups (RIGs) reflect the substantive interests of RSS Members and serve as an important avenue for connecting members with similar interests.  RIGs serve a critical role in RSS including: identifying, developing, and recruiting for the annual RSS conference; planning special events, speakers, field trips for the annual conference; providing intellectual leadership in their respective areas; rewarding achievement through internal awards and recognitions; and creating opportunities for members, particularly graduate students, to network and identify colleagues with similar interests. 

RSS currently has 14 RIGs. 

More information can be found here