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.


Whether due to real or perceived differences, Americans see each other differently depending on whether they live in rural, suburban or urban communities. The conclusion drawn from the near-constant polling, media commentary, and academic analysis of the past two years is that America is culturally divided by its geography. In 2019 and 2020, Indiana Humanities invites Hoosiers to dig into these divides, exploring how Hoosiers relate to each other across boundaries and considering what it will take to indeed be inseparable, in all the ways that matter.

Join us at 10 a.m. on March 12 at the Indiana Statehouse for an announcement with the Lt. Governor to learn more about this theme, the resources available and the title of our 2020 One State / One Story selection!


Over the next two years, INseparable will address the ways we’re the same, and the ways we’re different; how we benefit from working together, and when we’re fine on our own; the barriers we build, and the ways we look beyond our differences; the progress we’ve made and our persistence to endure.

We’ll explore how Hoosiers and Americans have thought about urban, suburban and rural differences over time, and what we think today. We hope to spark conversations about the ways the futures of urban, rural and suburban Hoosiers are linked, and what might be preventing us from working together.

As a proven convener and conversation starter, Indiana Humanities will push Hoosiers to look beyond the demographics of the urban-suburban-rural divides to consider the people behind the data. With programming that facilitates discussion, self-examination and fresh perspectives, Indiana Humanities will seek to help residents from all settings cross boundaries and gather to see the opportunities and challenges we share. 


We believe the humanities can help individuals and communities make sense of the real and perceived differences between urban, suburban and rural Hoosiers. They can provide context and lenses for analysis, as well as create space for critical inquiry, open-ended consideration and reflection.

To that end, we’ll use these animating ideas to guide our work:

  • How can the humanities help Hoosiers frame and understand the real and perceived differences across urban, suburban and rural lines?
  • What’s the particular history of how Hoosiers have related to each other across lines of urban/suburban/rural difference? How have these tensions or differences played out politically, socially, culturally, economically or environmentally?
  • How has Indiana responded to larger national and transnational movements (civil rights, Great Migration, industrialization, urbanization, immigration, etc.) that have shaped urban, suburban and rural communities?
  • What are the factors that lead some communities to embrace change and others to resist it? What lessons can we draw from the past or from across Indiana and the U.S. today?
  • How can the humanities help Hoosiers frame and understand the complex challenges facing communities, such as, outmigration, changing job markets, the opioid crisis, talent attraction and retention and quality of life?

We are not alone in asking these questions. For instance, a 2017 Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of rural Americans, found that 7 out of 10 rural residents said their values differ from those of city-dwellers. Conversely, 48 percent of urban Americans said their values differ from people in rural areas or small towns.

Several significant anniversaries and commemorations that tie to our theme, as well as the next presidential election, come during 2019-2020. These include:

  • the Indianapolis bicentennial
  • the 50th anniversary of Unigov
  • the 50th anniversary of the administration of one of the nation’s first black mayors, Gary’s Richard Hatcher
  • the 60th anniversary of legislation that led to the major wave of rural school consolidation in Indiana in the late 1960s
  • the centennial of the 1920 census, which was the first to show that a majority of Americans lived in cities and towns.
  • A statewide read in 2020 (title announced on March 12!)
  • A six-town tour of the Smithsonian-curated exhibit “Crossroads: Change in Rural America.” See where it’s headed. 
  • “Chew on This” dinner conversations around the state. Register here for the first one on April 23 (Locations: Batesville, Carmel, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, South Bend). Is your community missing? Apply to host one in your town.
  • INconversations with local, regional and national thought leaders. First up: James & Deborah Fallows on March 18-21 in Muncie, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Angola. Learn more

Other resources include:

  • A fellowship for early-career humanities professionals (applications open on March 12; click here to learn more)
  • A partnership with Belt Magazine to highlight Indiana writers and stories.
  • A poster for classrooms and libraries that presents a demographic snapshot of Hoosiers in 2020 (poster revealed on March 12!)
  • A speakers bureau of experts and talks related to the theme (coming soon!)
  • Discussion toolkits for films and texts (coming soon!)
  • A reading challenge for middle-grades students
  • Books available for book clubs to borrow through Novel Conversations
  • And more!
Interested in learning more about this theme and the resources available?

Contact Leah Nahmias, director of programs and community engagement, at