APLU will continue to support APLU members' efforts to close the digital divide; build capacity for rural community and economic development; engage rural students; and connect Extension and campus engagement offices to rural communities.
APLU members are working in partnership with rural communities across North America to improve educational options, economic vitality, and quality of life. Land-grant universities, in particular, deliver trusted, science-based information and educational programs for individuals, families and communities through Cooperative Extension. This includes, but is not limited to: farmers; youth; community and faith leaders; elected officials; entrepreneurs; and lifelong learners. Extension offices have educators that live and work in every county and parish in every state, US territory, and Puerto Rico, and maintain a national online presence.
APLU recognizes the importance of university programs to the vitality and resilience of rural communities. We aim to support university leaders working in rural communities by communicating the impact of rural engagement, providing peer learning opportunities for engagement and Extension leaders, advocating for funding that supports rural community engagement, and developing opportunities to develop and test new programs and approaches.
APLU’s Office of Economic Development and Community Engagement is working closely with APLU’s Office of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources to advance member work in rural communities.
There is no question that rural residents and businesses need access to high-speed internet service. One could argue that the rural challenges of long distances, low population, and business density make access to high-speed internet and digital services even more important than in areas in which the doctor, the grocery store, or a helpful neighbor are a short walk or drive away.
But these same challenges of distance and density also make it difficult for the private sector to offer high speed internet services in rural areas. This paper describes the important roles that APLU members—including Cooperative Extension Service—can and do play in improving digital inclusion for rural areas and proposes a project to support universities in closing the digital divide.
Read how APLU is leading the charge amongst Public Research Universities Advancing Digital Inclusion.