Colleges and universities can serve as invaluable resources for the surrounding rural communities of which they are a part. Effective college-community collaboration begins with effective dialogue to identify projects that advance the educational mission of the college and address the needs and interests of the community.
At Kenyon, local engagement through Rural by Design has provided students and faculty with new opportunities for teaching and learning, original creative and scholarly work, and deepening a sense of place. The college has gained a distinctive institutional identity for its rich engagement with rural life, particularly among prospective students from metropolitan areas. Summer faculty seminars have provided an important opportunity to introduce faculty to Knox County, enabling them to incorporate local subjects in their coursework throughout the curriculum.
Working together with area businesses, schools, foundations, agricultural organizations, and civic groups has enabled us to identify joint projects that enhance rural sustainability through downtown development, agricultural innovation, and the enhancement of local schools. All of these projects increase interaction between the college and broader community, changing the way we view one another in positive ways.