Mines News

Release Date Monday, August 30, 2021

Mines Faculty Member Joins Inaugural Cohort at Rural Communication Institute

Dr. Bryce Tellmann, who teaches communication and humanities at South Dakota Mines, stands on the rolling prairie of North Dakota near his family home.

South Dakota Mines instructor of humanities Bryce Tellmann, Ph.D., is one of 10 university faculty in the nation invited to join a new cohort of rural scholars at Tarleton State University’s Rural Communication Institute. The cohort is focusing on the future of rural areas and development of best practices for communicating with individuals in rural places.

“Place matters, but in today’s world geography can seem like a thing of the past, so it’s easy to become placeless. Out here in grassland landscapes people sometimes think of us as living nowhere. But the idea that rural areas have great value is vital for those of us in these places to remember when it comes to our ability to imagine what we can be,” says Tellmann.

Tellmann is a rhetorical scholar who examines language and discourse in and about rural regions. His expertise is on the Great Plains. “Rural America faces challenges that are sometimes very long and intractable. My research examines the idea that how a place sees itself can help define what opportunities it can create for itself,” Tellmann says.

Tellmann’s examination of the language around rural areas can lend insight to the potential for growth and advancement of rural America. He grew up on the open prairie of North Dakota and witnessed challenges like shrinking communities, land-use questions and the struggle to keep young people from migrating elsewhere.

“Rural folks are good at identifying the assets of a certain area–strong work ethic is an example of something many rural Americans pride themselves in. I am interested in seeing how that narrative works and how rural communities can use it to find success,” says Tellmann.

Tellmann adds that rural communities can find ways to measure their own success that might not be defined as population growth or economic development. The quality of life, the natural beauty, the solace of open space and other attributes hold great value to many Americans. “It’s not about elevating or protecting ourselves from urban people who ‘don’t get it,’ it’s also about rural people recognizing the great value in their own backyards.”

Tellmann says one pitfall is that many assume that all rural areas are the same. He says solutions to challenges in rural places require a local approach and understanding of each community and region.

“So often we talk about ‘rural’ as one thing, but we are pretty hard pressed to define it. Rural Appalachia is very different than rural South Dakota, for example,” Tellmann says.

Tellmann goes on to say that many political differences between urban and rural areas are real but too often overstated.

“We would so rarely group together Seattle, New York, and LA and make a blanket statement about them. These are each unique cities with their own attributes. In the same way, there is a great deal of complexity in what differentiates different rural areas. The simple dichotomy, popularized by many voices in the media, that separates urban and rural areas doesn’t capture who we are in these areas,” says Tellmann.

Tellmann says, like all communities, rural areas will always have challenges to overcome. Political divides, questions of indigenous sovereignty, land development, environmental protection, water resources, mining, tourism, recreation, agriculture, job shortages, and much more are all issues rural communities grapple with. “There is no path out of these tensions – it’s a matter of how we embrace and manage them and communicate over them going forward,” says Tellmann.


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu