Based in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, the Rural and Community-Based Education Initiative has three interconnected strands.

Strand One: Building a Rural Collective across the University of Pittsburgh

This strand focuses on building and sustaining a collective of faculty, staff, students, and administrators across the University of Pittsburgh campuses who are interested in research and practice related to rurality.

Strand Two: Expanding Knowledge and Addressing Spatial and Place-Based Inequities and Injustices Locally, Nationally, and Globally Using Intersectional Approaches

This strand focuses on advancing knowledge and practice related to spatial and place-based equity and justice at the intersection of racial, class, and gender equity and justice across local, regional, and national, and global contexts. The purpose of this strand is to also recognize the diversity within and across rural geographical contexts and to make greater connections to the similarities across rural, suburban, and urban contexts.

Strand Three: Developing Networks to Address Problems of Practice in Rural Education

This strand would focus on developing networks of rural schools, districts, and communities to identify problems of practice and to work together and address problems of practice using community-based assets.

Meet the Team

Darris MeansDarris R. Means, Ph.D.
Executive Director for Rural and Community-Based Education
Associate Professor



Rachael StoweRachael Stowe
Graduate Student Assistant for Rural and Community-Based Education
MA in Education Policy Student

Advisory Board

Daryl Burleigh, University of Pittsburgh, Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Enrollment Services Manager for Rural Pennsylvania

Dr. Mariko Yoshisato Cavey, University of Pittsburgh, School of Education, Assistant Professor

Dr. Stephanie Fiely, Executive Director of the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville Education and Training Hub

Dr. Jill Henning, Professor of Biology at University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Dr. Lisa Ortiz, University of Pittsburgh, School of Education, Assistant Professor

Dr. Danielle Mehlman-Brightwell, Director of the Office of Community Outreach and Assistant Professor of Public Policy & Communication, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg


Why Rural Matters: A Closer Look at Rural Education in Pennsylvania and the U.S.

Hosted on March 4, 2024, this presentation highlights the recent findings from the Why Rural Matters report, a report that focuses on the conditions of rural education in each of the 50 states. Daniel Showalter, Assistant Professor Mathematics at Eastern Mennonite University, provides an in-depth examination of rural education in Pennsylvania. Karen Eppley, Teaching Professor of Education at Penn State University, then offers a response to the presentation, calling attention to the critical challenges and opportunities for state educators, leaders, and policymakers to address through policy and practice.

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