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Institute for Rural Education and Development

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Research Projects

Rural education represents a promising opportunity to impact STEM workforce development and students' ability to reach key developmental milestones. The institute's research aims to integrate key findings from multiple disciplines into a comprehensive, holistic model of STEM education and healthy development for rural students.

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A Holistic Approach to Rural Education Research

Our research covers rural students starting from early childhood through early adolescence, with an emphasis on preschool, elementary school and middle school and high school developmental periods. Focusing on these ages allows for investigation of total child development, including motor skills, computational skills, social-emotional/behavioral skills and STEM career exposure. 

STEM and Healthy Development

Our focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and development is unique among other education research projects. We investigate STEM-related activities and their educational outcomes in rural communities from preschool to middle school and high school and beyond.

Target of research: Rural students' development from early childhood to adolescence 

Focus of the institute: STEM education and healthy developmental trajectories of rural youth

Research vision: A new holistic, interdisciplinary approach to the STEM education and healthy development of rural youth across key developmental periods

Areas of Focus

By taking an interdisciplinary approach to rural education, we will advance our understanding of how STEM learning and healthy development in rural areas can be measured, how existing strengths can be expanded and how the specific needs of rural students can be met.


The highest impact research today involves leveraging multiple perspectives, skillsets and areas of expertise to come up with the most comprehensive possible understanding of or solution to a significant issue.

Julius Fridriksson, USC Vice President for Research
Head shot of Julius Fridriksson, USC Vice President for Research


Institute for Rural Education and Development

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.