The future of rural is limited only by our imaginations and our willingness to capitalize on technology, community and rural spirit, according to Dr. Amy Novak, President of Dakota Wesleyan University.
“There is tremendous potential in rural North and South Dakota, but to seize that potential, we may have to re-imagine what rural is, does, and how it looks in the future,” Novak said.
Without doubt, one of the largest factors affecting the future of rural education is technology—and it is working in our favor. No longer does a student need to pilgrimage to an exclusive center of learning—technology brings knowledge everywhere 4G is.
“Technology is poised to have a significant impact on rural communities, rural health care and rural schools (and) has the capacity to bring people back and to revitalize economies that have been struggling.”
Marry broadband penetration with smartphone proliferation and you have a rural environment where little Betty Sue doesn’t have to be in a metro to compete. She can grow up and stay in her home community while living the life she wants.
“I’m excited about the growing interest of young people to return to their communities,” Novak said. “I am hopeful that communities will seize upon this trend and create leadership opportunities for young people to become invested in the future of rural.”
Dakota Wesleyan is working to foster an environment where students think of themselves as part of a larger national and international cadre of future leaders, whether they land in big places or small ones.
“DWU deans and department heads are out building relationships so that we can think about our role as collaborators and partners in preserving the rural roots that have defined the success of this region” and in doing so are encouraging students to stay rural and become leaders and change-makers at home.
The world is flattening, but in the Dakotas, we know flat.
“The challenge of the future is equipping students and leaders in any field to understand what all this information means and how to leverage it create success … how we appreciate, celebrate, learn and leverage their experiences and assets to further strengthen our rural communities” will define our future.