The Rural Life Center


The Rural Life Center (RLC) at Kenyon College promotes education, scholarship, and public projects about rural life. Through collaboration with the central Ohio community, RLC seeks to enhance the quality of local rural life.

Education. RLC encourages Kenyon students, faculty, and staff to learn about rural life. RLC supports course work and sponsors extracurricular activities that extend the broad educational goals of the College through study of the local community.

Scholarship. RLC initiates and supports scholarly and creative work in the arts, sciences, and humanities to document and interpret rural life. RLC archives the results of these efforts for use by the Kenyon, scholars, and the surrounding community.

Public Projects. RLC produces exhibitions, programs, and publications about rural life to enhance appreciation, understanding, and reflection among residents and visitors to Knox County and the broader public. RLC designs these projects to respond to local needs and interests.


Located in rural Knox County, Kenyon College offers a valuable opportunity for students and faculty to actively engage rural life. Directed immersion in the surrounding community provides a rich cultural experience for our students, particularly those unfamiliar with rural life. The surrounding locale affords students and faculty a wide variety of opportunities for original scholarship and artistic work. Through their involvement in projects that share this work publicly, students develop and demonstrate their substantive knowledge as well as a variety of technical and interpersonal skills. By facilitating connections between classroom learning and the life of an ongoing community, RLC enables students to directly encounter the values of social responsibility and citizenship that are so central to the liberal arts.

Kenyon's character as a liberal arts institution uniquely suits it for the creative study of rural life. Unlike university programs that typically study rural life as a specialization separate from the general curriculum, Kenyon's holistic approach brings together the arts, humanities, and sciences toward a more integrative understanding of the human experience. For example, a liberal arts approach to current issues in agriculture explores the interplay among economic, biological, social, and cultural forces, rather than emphasizing one factor in isolation. By harnessing this more synthetic approach within the local community, RLC offers a powerful opportunity to address issues in our nations' rural communities and to develop innovative educational strategies for the next century.

As an active participant in the life of our community, Kenyon offers important resources as at a critical moment in Knox County's history. The rapid expansion of metropolitan Columbus poses significant challenges to the county's rural character. Those communities closer to downtown Columbus that failed to recognize the profound impact of urban growth must now contend with problems including water shortages, traffic congestion, and the loss of a way of life whose significance they appreciated too late. Knox Countians have begun significant long-term planning to manage and direct the course of this change in keeping with community priorities. RLC will contribute to this effort through systematic data collection, educational programs, and projects that implement the community's plans for the future. Because the issues facing this region are confronted throughout much of America, RLC's efforts have practical benefits that extend nationwide.

If you would like to learn more about the Rural Life Center, contact Howard L. Sacks, Director at 740/427-5850 or email

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