26th Annual National Symposium on Family Issues-Rural Families and Communities

Date 10/22/18 to 10/23/18
Location Nittany Lion Inn, University Park campus, State College, PA
Contact Carolyn Scott
Contact Email css7@psu.edu

Rural Families and Communities

Two story white home across a small four-way intersection with a stop sign and churchThe landscape of family life is ever changing. The strategies needed to maintain family economic stability, health and general well-being vary across space and place. Although the rural-urban divide is often portrayed as the most important geographic distinction, there is tremendous diversity across rural communities. Contrary to some depictions, families in rural areas come from diverse backgrounds. Further, some rural areas are resource constrained while others host opportunities that can support healthy families and child well-being. The 2018 National Symposium on Family Issues will focus on the challenges facing families in rural areas and the unique strategies invoked by families in rural areas today.


Monday, October 22 – Nittany Lion Inn Boardroom, lower level

8:15 am Check in; Coffee and lite breakfast

8:45 am Welcome and Opening Remarks

Session 1: Families and rural economies: How conditions of work and family life in rural communities impact well-being

This session focuses on the labor market realities facing families in rural areas. Rural poverty has persisted for decades. Yet, there is no one portrait of rural places and the challenges they face because economic and demographic shifts create a diverse landscape of rural communities. Families too have changed over time as they must adapt to the opportunities and conditions of work that also vary across rural communities. Research in this session highlights the multiple facets of family life impacted by work conditions across diverse rural communities, the policies of the past, and future policy directions needed to support rural families.

  • Trouble in the heartland: Poverty and the contradictions of rural America
    Ann R. Tickamyer, Professor of Rural Sociology, Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education, Penn State

  • Intersecting changes in rural America: Implications of the changing labor force and family demographics since the mid-century
    Marybeth J. Mattingly, Director, Vulnerable Families Research Program, Carsey School of Public Health, University of New Hampshire

  • Declining labor force participation and opportunity: Exploring changes in employment and wages in the places left behind
    Mark Partridge, Professor and Swank Chair in Rural-Urban Policy, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, The Ohio State University

12:00-1:30 Lunch on your own; Private lunch for speakers and graduate students in Penn State Room, first floor (Signup required; Signup will be sent to graduate students in early Oct.)


Session 2: Family relationships and well-being: Family roles, relationships, and development pathways unique to those in rural areas

This session focuses on the developmental contexts of youth and families in rural areas in the United States. Research in this session addresses risks and resilience of Latino, African American and Anglo-American children and adolescents in several different regions of the country. Relying on unique, longitudinal and in-depth family data on the lived experiences of minority youth in different regions, the studies presented in this session demonstrate how and why the rural context shapes family processes and youth development.

  • Family relationships and well-being of African American families residing in rural spaces
    Velma McBride Murry, Lois Autrey Betts Chair, Education and Human Development, Professor, Human and Organizational Development, Vanderbilt University, Shauna M. Cooper, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Marketa Burnett, Developmental Psychology Graduate Program, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Misha N. Inniss-Thompson, Doctoral Program, Department of Human and Organizational Development, Vanderbilt University

  • Growing up in rural America: Family life and early schooling in low wealth communities
    Lynne Vernon-Feagans, The William C. Friday Distinguished Professor, Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, and Margaret M. Swingler, Research Scientist, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Prosociality in rurality: Prosocial development in rural communities in the United States
    Gustavo Carlo, Millsap Professor of Diversity and Madison Memmot-Elison, Graduate Student, Human Development and Family Science, University of Missouri, and Lisa Crockett, Professor Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

4:40-5:45 Reception for all attendees in Alumni Lounge, first floor


Tuesday, October 23 - Nittany Lion Inn Boardroom, lower level

8:45 am Check in; Coffee and lite breakfast

9:00 am - Noon

Session 3: Changing spaces and faces: The current economic and health challenges facing families across diverse rural areas

This session highlights the diversity of rural communities and the health and well-being of families living in rural America today. Presenters will address the variation in opioid use disorders and opioid mortality across rural areas, the challenges of population aging for the future of family and community support in rural areas, and the role of immigration in spurring rural population growth and possible resurgence of rural areas now and into the future.

  • Bifurcation and differentiation: How vulnerable are American communities to automation and trade?
    Emily J. Wornell, Research Assistant Professor, Indiana Communities Institute, Srikant Devaraj, Research Assistant Professor, Center for Business and Economic Research, Michael J. Hicks, Director, Center for Business and Economic Research, and George & Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics, Miller College of Business, and Dagney Faulk, Director of Research and Research Professor, Center for Business and Economic Research, Ball State University

  • The opioid crisis and other substance use challenges in rural America
    Shannon M. Monnat, Associate Professor of Sociology and Lerner Chair for Public Health Promotion, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University

  • Nonmetropolitan aging in the United States: How young-adult out-migration, retirement in-migration, and increased middle-age mortality lead to distinct aging environments
    John Cromartie
    , Geographer with the Resource and Rural Economics Division of USDA, Economic Research Service

Symposium Registration - Pre-registration is required

* Attendance is free for Penn State students and employees
* Registration fee for students and post-docs from other universities: $50
* Registration fee for all others: $90

We are not able to accept credit cards. Please make checks payable to "Penn State".

Mail check to: Barbara Rigg, Social Science Research Institute, Penn State, 114 Henderson, University Park PA 16802

Symposium Sponsors

The Symposium on Family Issues is sponsored annually by The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R13 HD048150).

Thank you to our Penn State sponsors: Social Science Research Institute; Population Research Institute; Department of Sociology and Criminology; Clinical and Translational Science Institute; Department of Human Development and Family Studies; Department of Psychology; Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education; Prevention Research Center; and the Child Study Center.

Continuing Education Units for Certified Family Life Educators

The Family Symposium is approved for Continuing Education Credits for the Certified Family Life Educator program through the National Council on Family Relations (6 contact hours or .6 CEUs). Please notify Carolyn Scott at css7@psu.edu prior to the symposium if you will need a certificate.


A block of rooms is being held at the Nittany Lion Inn, where the Symposium will be held. Single occupancy rooms are $134 plus tax. The rate is not guaranteed after Sept. 21, 2018 or after the block is filled. Use reservation code FAMI18A. Contact the Inn at (800) 233-7505 or (814) 865-8500 or at www.pennstatehotels.com

For other lodging options visit statecollege.com and choose the Lodging tab. If you have questions, contact Carolyn Scott at css7@psu.edu


Parking is available in the Nittany Parking Deck next to the Nittany Lion Inn. Validation for free parking is available at the front desk.

(Please note that Penn State students are not allowed to park in the Nittany Deck.)

Family Care

If you need suggestions for family care, contact Carolyn Scott at css7@psu.edu

Also see:
Family Symposium Homepage
Family Symposium Books
official Twitter logo#PSUFamilySymp18

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