The Geography Departments at Macalester College and the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire are pleased to host the 2019 International Geographical Union Commission on the Sustainability of Rural Systems (IGU-CSRS) Colloquium and Field Study.  The 6-day Colloquium fosters international collaboration and information exchange specifically focused on concepts of economic, social, and environmental sustainability of rural systems. This forum provides scholars an opportunity to develop international perspectives on rural sustainability and bolster relationships between the academy and local communities.  We welcome participation from scholars interested in rural sustainability in all regions of the world, to join us in exchanging knowledge through a Colloquium of academic research presentations and discussion and through the 4-day Field Study focused on local examples of rural sustainability.


The key organizing theme of the 2019 Colloquium is Sustaining Rural Systems: Rural Vitality in an Era of Globalization and Economic Nationalism. The Colloquium and Field Study are organized around four sub-themes highlighting the importance of “local” while interrogating the relationships between local social and economic vitality and national and global trends.  The first sub-theme, Rural Innovations: Entrepreneurship and Rural-Urban Partnerships, highlights conventional and perceptual barriers between rural and urban regions and examines activities and opportunities for building healthy and sustainable regional networks. Theme two, Recognizing rural demographic diversity, highlights the rapidly changing rural demographic landscape, including issues of aging, population decline, and increasing ethnic diversity. The third and fourth themes, Land Use Transitions and Agricultural Transitions focus on the restructuring of rural economies, including small and large-scale agriculture, new business, and innovative technologies.


The U.S. Midwest region is the “living laboratory” in which Colloquium participants will explore the diverse economic and social trajectories of rural communities.  Specifically, the Field Study, situated in Minnesota and Wisconsin, is geographically extensive, covering several hundred kilometers, with Field Study sites in more than 10 different rural communities over four days of travel.  Field sites will be located between Saint Paul, MN and Eau Claire, WI, east-to-west, and between Rochester, MN and Duluth, MN, north-to-south.  A more detailed Field Study Itinerary will be available in coming months.