ND Rural Life:
At The University of North Dakota
ND Rural Life is what remains of the website of the defunct Center for Rural Studies. After the demise of the center, I assembled a collection of UND faculty and rural activists and advocates as a regional/rural advisory group to explore the establishment of a regional studies center at the University of North Dakota along the lines of the Canadian Plains Research Center at the University of Regina. The rural/regional advisory group believes that a regional/rural center should focus on connections to place.
Such a center could focus on the culture, society, economy, politics, history and environment of the Northern Great Plains. This position was also supported by Clay Jenkinson, a noted Jefferson scholar, who said at a UND 125th Anniversary event on March 14, 2008, that higher education institutions in this state should focus on place:
Jenkinson, scheduled to participate in a Friday afternoon panel discussion on the future of education in North Dakota, ended his morning presentation as Jefferson by discussing that topic. His speech focused on the University of Virginia, which Jefferson built with that state’s Legislature after his final term as president. But Jenkinson’s Jefferson several times drew parallels between that school and UND and other North Dakota universities, which he said too often fail to teach students what’s unique about their state. “Your mission is to teach your children about the agrarian vision of North Dakota,” he said. “If you become a university like others, you will have failed.” Jenkinson, a native North Dakotan, expanded on that statement after the presentation, saying he feared that UND, North Dakota State University and the state’s other public colleges had sacrificed their unique characters in their drive for national respectability. As a result, he said, the universities have become “floating platforms that could be in Winnipeg, Duluth or Mankato. “There’s higher respectability but lower value because only the schools here can teach about this place.”