About DSI

The goal of the Dudley Smith Initiative is to create and apply knowledge about the system that makes up the agricultural community. The agricultural community system is comprised of farmers, consumers, products, profits, natural resources, production, and many other components. The Dudley Smith Initiative (DSI) intends to support innovative research and outreach that advances its fundamental goal of invigorating the agricultural system in Illinois. Innovative research:

  • Incorporates the interactions among the social, economic, biological, and natural resource components of the agricultural community system.
  • Is multidisciplinary and includes both a long-term and a short-term focus.
  • Is willing to take a “non-traditional” approach.

A landowner with family roots in Christian County, Dudley Smith, Jr. recognized the long-term economic challenges facing agriculture in Illinois, and he anticipated their social impact on rural areas. Dudley Smith urged us not only to embrace technological advancements but also to address the long-term stewardship and sustainability of agricultural practices.

The Process: Interdisciplinary Research

By understanding the interactions among the components of the agricultural and community system, including its natural resources, economic base, and social elements, the Dudley Smith Initiative intends to make agriculture sustainable over the long term.

Also, by acknowledging that systems research and outreach of this sort is dynamic and will evolve over time as new knowledge and increasingly powerful technologies generate more relevant questions and by seeking to exploit these technological advances, the Dudley Smith Initiative intends to reinvigorate and redefine the agricultural system.

DSI Supported Projects

  • DSystems Research Projects
    Multi-year multi-disciplinary programs focused on broad agriculture and community systems (up to five years).
  • DSynergy Research Projects
    One to two-year projects to groups seeking to define how their research and outreach can be integrated across disciplinary boundaries.
  • Community Education Grants
    The Dudley Smith Initiative offers grants of up to $1,500 to middle school and high school teachers to fund innovative projects that create knowledge about agriculture and its impact on the community.