Schul Forum to explore urban, rural connections

The inaugural Schul Forum Series, hosted by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, will examine what remains of the Charlotte region’s ties between its rural areas and urban center and what can be done to revive them.

The Nov. 21 forum, which is scheduled for UNC Charlotte Center City, will highlight findings from the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connections project, a two-year Urban Institute research endeavor funded by the Duke Endowment. The Charlotte region rose to prosperity on the strength of ties between its rural areas and urban center, but those ties have frayed in recent decades, with the decline of the textile industry and Charlotte’s emergence as an independent finance center.

For 50 years, UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute has operated as a nonpartisan, applied research and community outreach institute seeking solutions to the social, economic and environmental challenges facing communities in the Charlotte region.

Sarah SmarshSarah Smarsh, author of “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth,” a New York Times bestseller and 2018 National Book Award finalist, will deliver a keynote address. A journalist and commentator, Smarsh is featured frequently in national news outlets and hosts the podcast “The Homecomers.”

The Schul Forum program will include panel discussions about research findings and a summation and address by Jeff Michael, director of the Urban Institute.

The Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection project has highlighted topics such as how Shelby used music to fuel a downtown revival, different rates of philanthropy throughout the Charlotte region and how commuting patterns have changed as the economy shifted.

Register to attend the forum; the cost is $30 and includes a light breakfast and lunch.

Urban Institute 50th anniversaryThe Marianne M. and Norman W. Schul Urban Institute Forum Series was established in 2018 to serve as an annual event focused on policy issues affecting the Charlotte region, convening local leaders, national experts and researchers from the institute and other parts of UNC Charlotte. Norm Schul, the institute’s first director, and his wife Marianne ’73 enabled the creation of the series through a gift to EXPONENTIAL: The Campaign for UNC Charlotte.