McMaster Symposium 2010

Democracy and Education in the Face of Rural Change
April 7-8, 2010

Symposium Schedule

This annual event not only highlights the extraordinary work of our McMaster Scholars and Fellows, it is an opportunity for the Defiance community to come together to share ideas and expertise around a common theme.

Keynote Speaker

Adam Renner
Associate Professor of Education at Bellarmine University

Renner has a PhD in Cultural Studies from the University of Tennessee and focuses his research on issues of pedagogy, social difference, and service learning. He articulates these issues within a revolutionary notion of social justice which combines concepts of community, consciousness, and courage intended to battle the alienating/dominating forces in our society.

These forces—which often create disconnects within ourselves, with others, and with the planet—are countered by two provocative possibilities: "caring solidarity" and the "hopeful curriculum."

His research and long-term service with schools and social service agencies in Jamaica and in Louisville, KY, as well as his community organizing work with the Rouge Forum, reveal these liberating possibilities whenever solidarity and democratic action become central to our work. Advocating transformation over reform, social change over social service, and hope over optimism, Adam will clarify the necessary long term (and feasible) work ahead for future educators.

Invited Speaker

Patrick Carr
Associate Professor of Sociology at Rutgers

Carr co-authored the book, Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What it Means for America, with his partner Maria Kefala.

Carr and Kefala spent a year living in "Ellis," a small town in northeastern Iowa, conducting ethnographic research on the residents and the young adults who moved away.

Through in-depth interviews Carr and Kefala identified four categories of residents: the working-class "stayers;" the college-bound "achievers;" the military-bound "seekers;" and the "returners."

Evidence gathered by Carr and Kefala indicate that the town's decline can be attributed to its own well meaning residents. Parents, teachers/coaches, and clergy encouraged the "best and brightest" to leave and subsequently did not support the social and civic development of the "stayers." Carr will argue that the decline and continual loss of small Midwestern towns has already had and will continue to have a major detrimental impact on the economic health of the United States. Carr will discuss solutions for small towns to retain, attract, and develop a creative and entrepreneurial mindset that will re-position rural America for the global economy.