Editor's note

Rural America voted for Donald Trump in a big way. Why? Was it economic insecurity, lost faith in the federal government, fear of immigrants taking jobs? And how did the media and other experts not see the profound impact rural America could have on the national level?

Today we launch our Inside Rural America series to dig into some of these questions. To start, demographer Kenneth Johnson paints a picture of this vast area that should dispel the notion that rural America is a static or monolithic place. Jennifer Van Hook and Barrett Lee of Penn State pick up the theme of diversity and explain what recent social and ethnic changes in both urban and rural areas mean for the future of American society.

As we publish stories on rural issues in the weeks and months ahead, we invite you to write to us at us-editorial@theconversation.com with your thoughts and suggestions.

Martin LaMonica

Deputy Editor, Environment & Energy Editor

Top story

The view from Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. Cropped from nicholas_t/flickr

Where is 'rural America,' and what does it look like?

Kenneth Johnson, University of New Hampshire

'Rural America' is a deceptively simple term for a remarkably diverse collection of places. Understanding – and improving – these parts of the country is critical for all Americans.

Politics + Society

  • Diversity is on the rise in urban and rural communities, and it's here to stay

    Jennifer Van Hook, Pennsylvania State University; Barrett Lee, Pennsylvania State University

    Nine out of 10 rural places experienced increases in diversity from 1990 to 2010. Data show a more diverse future is guaranteed across all of America, and there's no going back.

  • How social media stars are fighting for the Left

    David Craig, University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; Stuart Cunningham, Queensland University of Technology

    Content creators with millions of fans are increasingly willing to voice their political views. Their influence on American politics may be in its infancy but it is growing fast.

Economy + Business

Environment + Energy

Arts + Culture

  • Is your smartphone making you shy?

    Joe Moran, Liverpool John Moores University

    Some have said that technology could lead to 'a new ice age' of social isolation. Not so fast, says the author of a new book about shyness.

Science + Technology

  • How governments and companies can prevent the next insider attack

    Matthew Bunn, Harvard University; Scott D. Sagan, Stanford University

    Basic safeguards are not enough to protect against insider threats. It requires rethinking how to overcome the biases that cause us to dismiss the danger.

  • Building privacy right into software code

    Jean Yang, Carnegie Mellon University

    Most of today's computer languages make it hard for programmers to protect users' privacy and security. The fix is to take those tasks out of human hands entirely.

Health + Medicine

Rest of the World