This digital publication explores opportunities and conflicts between urban and rural areas, putting scientific findings into tangible texts. Read the editorial below.

Dear readers,
What is your image of rural areas and what do you think the future holds for them? The countryside is often defined as land away from large towns and cities, in contrast to urban density. As a result, it appears as the supposed opposite of progress and prosperity. In popular belief, it often is a place of conservation – of natural resources, picturesque landscapes, and traditional values. How do these representations, rooted in history and culture, influence our contemporary understanding of the role of the countryside and rural populations in ongoing change – whether environmental or economic, political, and/or social?

As part of our mission to create open spaces, provide orientation, and defend freedoms, we at ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius regard the interplay of urban influence and rural areas as one of the key developing fields for civil society.

Together with its partners, the ZEIT-Stiftung organized a series of workshops and a summer school in 2021 and 2022 whose aim was to shed light on rural areas in all their diversities. We invited international scholars, practitioners, and local actors to gather in small towns and villages - Homberg (Efze), Burgtiefe (Fehmarn), and Sankelmark (Schleswig). Here, we discussed the heritage and perspectives of rural areas in the face of globalization. With the help of this interdisciplinary and diverse group, we sought to overcome the polarized image of a rural-urban divide. The common goal of all the institutions and individuals involved in our endeavor was to strengthen rural voices in academic and public debate. Among the partners for the workshop and summer school were the Royal Danish Embassy, the Akademiezentrum Sankelmark, The Link and the island of Fehmarn.

The magazine “Rural Futures” draws directly from our encounters and explorations in the countryside and shows how important and timely it is to build and communicate a new understanding: Not only is the countryside changing drastically in different regions of the world, becoming more and more disconnected from its local social context and natural resources, as critical assessments underline, but also, rural contributions to building a sustainable future are essential to solving the most demanding issues of our time, such as environmental challenges and climate change. Local projects and initiatives can have an impact both regionally and far afield.

Informed by their research or practical work in administration, businesses, or civil society, the contributors discuss representations of the countryside and its functions, rural developments, local initiatives, and identities. We hope you will be inspired, and we look forward to your feedback! Together, let us reflect on the future of the countryside. Let us search for new ways to balance globalization, growth, and sustainability across the urban-rural divide and create opportunities for a good life in rural areas.

Click the link below to flip through the whole magazine in English!

rural-futures-magazint.jpg (106 KB)

Dr. Anna Hofmann
ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius
Feldbrunnenstraße 56
20148 Hamburg
040 41336785
040 41336740