Indiana’s Urban-Rural Dynamic Focus of Two-Year Initiative

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Whether due to real or perceived differences, Americans see each other differently depending on whether they live in rural, suburban or urban communities.

Indiana Humanities on Tuesday announced a new statewide initiative called INseparable that invites Hoosiers to dig into these divides, exploring how they relate to each other across boundaries and considering what it will take to indeed be inseparable, in all the ways that matter.
“Through the humanities, we have some special tools that are divorced from politics that are ways we can see the world, ways we can see each other,” Keira Amstutz, president, and CEO of Indiana Humanities, said at a Statehouse news conference. “What we’re trying to do is create space and opportunity for people to wrestle with these issues on their own and in conversation with others.”
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said Hoosiers are connected across urban and rural areas regardless of where they reside.
“Through the Indiana Humanities program we are encouraging individuals to look beyond their differences and acknowledge all that we are able to accomplish when we work together,” Crouch said.
Among the new Indiana Humanities programs announced Tuesday are a statewide read of Jean Thompson’s The Year We Left Home, a fellowship for early-career humanities professionals and a callout for filmmakers interested in creating high-quality short films exploring the stories of urban, suburban and rural Hoosiers.
Book tour events, special dinner party conversations, a Smithsonian-curated museum exhibit and more also will be offered by Indiana Humanities over the next two years to provide Hoosiers with many opportunities to explore the ways we’re the same and the ways we’re different.
The aim is to use literature, history, poetry, philosophy, ethics, and related disciplines to promote understanding and empathy across the boundaries.
INseparable programs and events will include:
INconversation Series
This series pairs thought leaders with a local moderator for a candid, surprising and thoughtful discussion. The INseparable kickoff events with bestselling authors James and Deborah Fallows will be March 18-21 in Muncie, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Angola and will explore what makes successful and thriving communities. Learn more:
Smithsonian-Curated Exhibit
Starting in September, the small Indiana towns of Dillsboro, Salem, Vernon, Bristol, North Manchester, and New Harmony will host a traveling Smithsonian-curated exhibit called Crossroads: Change in Rural America. The exhibit’s purpose is to allow small towns a chance to look at the economic and social changes that have affected their fortunes over the past century, explore how they have adapted, identify what makes them uniquely appealing and spark discussions about the future. Learn more:
Chew on This: What Divides Us?
Are we more divided than ever before? If so, why? What exactly divides us? We’ll dig into these and similar questions on April 23 during simultaneous Chew on This dinner conversations with local facilitators in Batesville, Carmel, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, New Albany, Rensselaer, South Bend, and Warsaw. Learn more:
One State / One Story
We’re inviting Hoosiers to engage deeply with one book as part of a statewide conversation tied to our INseparable theme. In 2020, year two of INseparable, we’ve selected Jean Thompson’s The Year We Left Home, which offers a sweeping, multigenerational look at life in the Midwest over the past several decades. Learn more:
Humanities Fellowship
Indiana Humanities will offer a new fellowship for early-career humanities professionals who are passionate about using the humanities to make their communities better. The first cohort of six to eight Humanities Action Fellows will be selected this spring and serve as fellows from July 2019 to December 2020. For more information or to apply:
Film Project
We’re seeking filmmakers to create high-quality short films (5-15 minutes) that invite Hoosiers to consider the stories of urban, rural and suburban Hoosiers. Applications are due May 10. Up to four filmmakers will be awarded $6,500 to complete their proposed projects; up to four high school students or student teams will be awarded $1,000 to develop a film project that aligns with the call for proposals. Learn more:
Hoosier Urbanization Poster
Indiana Humanities will distribute a poster with maps showing Indiana’s increasing shift from an agrarian to an urban society over the past century. The poster, which will be delivered to all 2,500 schools and libraries across the state, invites Hoosiers to consider the state’s changing demographics and why more people are living in urban centers. Learn more:
Speakers Bureau
Indiana Humanities has curated a new speakers bureau of talks and workshops by Indiana scholars and others to explore many aspects of urban, suburban and rural dynamics at play through history and today. Speakers will provide a variety of lenses for thinking about the ways we are, or are not, inseparable. Learn more:
Novel Conversations
New books related to the INseparable theme have been added to Indiana Humanities’ free lending library for book clubs, called Novel Conversations. New titles include The Turner House, Hillbilly Elegy, Tyler Johnson Was Here, and Little Fires Everywhere, among others. Reserve your set starting April 1. Learn more:
Student Reading Challenge
The INseparable Shelfie Challenge is a program for Hoosier students grades K-12 to take the challenge to read five books related to life in rural, urban and suburban America. Those who complete the challenge are awarded a $10 Amazon gift card to use to purchase their next read. Learn more:
Indiana Humanities creates multi-year thematic programs around timely topics. Previous themes have included “Quantum Leap”–an exploration of the possibilities that occur when we bridge the humanities with science, technology, engineering, math and medicine; “Next Indiana”–tied to Indiana’s bicentennial and our next 200 years; “Spirit of Competition”–which celebrated sports, economics and politics during and after Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis; and “Food for Thought”–an exploration of food and agriculture that covered eating local, feeding the world and everything in between.
About Indiana Humanities
Indiana Humanities connects people, opens minds and enriches lives by creating and facilitating programs that encourage Hoosiers to think, read and talk. Learn more at
About INseparable
INseparable is a two-year Indiana Humanities initiative that invites Hoosiers to explore how we relate to each other across boundaries, real or imagined, and consider what it will take to indeed be inseparable, in all the ways that matter. Learn more at