The University of Utah Honors College PRAXIS Lab “Worlds Apart: Assessing Utah’s Urban and Rural Divide” is hosting a Rural Day at 5 p.m. on April 2 at the Hinckley Institute of Politics.
The event is part of the culmination of research that students conducted throughout the last school year under the guidance of Matthew Burbank, a professor in the political science department at the U, and Katherine Fife, the principal consultant and founder of Philanthropy Matters, LLC, a consulting firm in Salt Lake City.
The PRAXIS Lab is a yearlong course that challenged enrolled Honors students to identify, understand and ultimately bridge the gap between cities in Utah, particularly Salt Lake City, and the rural areas of the state. Through the Rural Day event, students involved hope to both raise awareness and start a discussion about the issues facing rural students in their pursuit of higher education.
“We are hoping to contribute to efforts, both through this event and through our class projects, that will help improve their academic success,” said Ashli Young, a sophomore in the PRAXIS Lab. “In our research, we found that rural students have proven to definitely have the capabilities to succeed academically, but there is a difference in higher education enrollment and retention between urban and rural areas. We hope to help rural students open doors to start and complete a higher education pathway that is right for them, whether that be a four-year university or a community or technical college.”
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox will speak at the event, followed by a panel discussion composed of speakers with diverse perspectives on issues that rural students face, including educational leadership and policy professor Jason Taylor and representatives from both the Kem Gardner Policy Institute and Salt Lake City Corporation.
“Lt. Governor Spencer Cox is an ideal speaker because he grew up in a rural area,” Burbank said. “He then went to Snow College and Utah State University, practiced law in the city and moved back to his hometown. He’s still living in rural Utah, and his story is a nice example of the ability of an education to progress your career.”
Numerous on-campus groups and resources have been invited to table at the event in order to highlight opportunities already available in Salt Lake City to support, enable and integrate students into campus.
All students, faculty, staff and the public are all invited to attend and participate in the free event, which includes dinner from The Pie Pizzeria.
“We want the Rural Day event to bring attention to the unique challenges that face students from rural areas,” Burbank said. “We’ve discovered that students in rural areas both in Utah and in other states graduate at a higher rate than metropolitan areas, and yet fewer rural students enroll in higher education programs, like universities. We are thinking about how education can help economic development in rural areas.”
Editor’s Note: The Daily Utah Chronicle’s news editor, Emily Anderson, is a student in the “Worlds Apart: Assessing Utah’s Urban and Rural Divide” PRAXIS Lab.