About Rural Sociology and Sustainable Development

The Department of Rural Sociology at the University of Missouri employs the theoretical and methodological tools of rural sociology to address challenges of the 21st century – preserving our natural resources, providing safe and nutritious food for an expanding population, adapting to climate changes, and maintaining sustainable rural livelihoods.

As part of the Division of Applied Social Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, we collaborate in teaching, research and outreach with agricultural economists, natural resource specialists, biochemists, plant and animal scientists, nutritionists, food scientists, psychologists and physicians from MU and other major universities, various governmental agencies and domestic and international non-governmental organizations. In addition to working in rural communities in the United States, Rural Sociology faculty conduct research and outreach programs in numerous countries, especially in the developing world.

Funding for research and outreach comes from a variety of sources, such as the Ford Foundation, Fulbright Program, IREX, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Foundation for Health, Missouri Department of Transportation, National Endowment for the Arts, National Science Foundation, Soros Open Society Foundation, Templeton Foundation, United States Agency for International Development, USDA (Agricultural Research Service, Higher Education Challenge Grants, National Research Initiative, Socially Disadvantaged Farmers Program, Sustainable Agriculture and Education Program), US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Council on East European and Eurasian Research and the Woodrow Wilson Center International Center for Scholars.

Masters and doctoral students from across the globe work in partnership with faculty on a wide array of research and extension projects, including community and economic development, food insecurity, sustainable agriculture and food systems, and natural resources. Programs of study can be tailored to meet specific student backgrounds and career-goals. Our students are employed in universities, various levels of government, international non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

Examples of Faculty Ongoing Research and Outreach Include:

  • Culture and Sustainable Consumption
  • Expanding Nutritious Choices in Food Pantries
  • Household Adaptation in Post-Communist Transitional Economies
  • Increasing Food Security through Integration of Social and Biological Sciences
  • Linking Local and Scientific Knowledge to Assist the Rural Poor
  • Local Food Systems and Rural Development
  • Newcomer Integration into Communities
  • Rural Entrepreneurship Development
  • Small Holder Dairy Cooperative Development in East Africa
  • Supporting Beginning Farmers and Rural Communities
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