Dear readers, What is your image of rural areas and what do you think the future holds for them? The countryside is often defined as land away from large towns and cities, in contrast to urban density. As a result, it appears as the supposed opposite of progress and prosperity. In popular belief, it often is a place of conservation – of natural resources, picturesque landscapes, and traditional values. How do these representations, rooted in history and culture, influen-ce our contemporary understanding of the role of the countryside and rural populations in ongoing change – whether environmental or economic, political, and/or social? As part of our mission to create open spaces, provide orientation, and defend freedoms, we at ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius regard the interplay of urban influence and rural areas as one of the key developing fields for civil society.Together with its partners, the ZEIT-Stiftung organi-zed a series of workshops and a summer school in 2021 and 2022 whose aim was to shed light on rural areas in all their diversities. We invited international scholars, practitioners, and local actors to gather in small towns and villages - Homberg (Efze), Burg-tiefe (Fehmarn), and Sankelmark (Schleswig). Here, we discussed the heritage and perspectives of rural areas in the face of globalization. With the help of this interdisciplinary and diverse group, we sought to overcome the polarized image of a rural-urban divide. The common goal of all the institutions and individu-als involved in our endeavor was to strengthen rural voices in academic and public debate.| Editors’ NoteRural Futures – Editorial
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