At the University of Kentucky, students and community ask “What’s Next?”


As April began, important conversations about Kentucky’s health, education, and economy were taking place at the E.S. Good Barn at the University of Kentucky. Students and community members of various backgrounds gathered to discuss “Where are we now?” “Where do we want to go?” and, “How will we get there?” Many tough challenges that Kentuckians face were considered, such as a lack of affordable healthcare, struggling schools, and facing the hard choice to leave the state to find work. As the conversation turned to what folks would like to see happen in the future, many inspiring ideas were heard. From starting with better health practices in the home, to investing in education and infrastructure, to celebrating Kentucky’s mountains and trees with festivals and tourism, participants offered a vision for what’s next for Kentucky.

What’s Next, Kentucky? is a statewide effort to encourage community conversations about Kentucky’s future. Guests of the first conversations were excited to have a space where everyone was encouraged to share their experiences, values, and ideas. These conversations are designed so Kentuckians can change their community dynamics, build new relationships, and take actions around their own ideas for their communities. One goal is to share innovative things happening across the state while bringing new people and ideas into the mix–participants reflected that these conversations brought together people who might never have interacted. Calls for more community conversations were echoed at all three events–Let’s continue to talk about our futures!

Join our webinars on April 25th and May 11th to learn more about What’s Next, Kentucky? and how to facilitate conversations in your own local community. Register here:

Contact Lauren Gabbard at for more information.


What’s Next, Kentucky? at the Gulf South Summit

What’s Next, Kentucky? traveled to North Carolina for the Gulf South Summit on Service Learning and Civic Engagement. Tiffany Hardin, a UK student helping plan the What’s Next conversations, joined UK professor Buck Ryan and AmeriCorps VISTA Lauren Gabbard for a panel discussion about the What’s Next, Kentucky? initiative. Attendees had the opportunity to model a community conversation and learn about the progress Kentucky is making to use dialogue and deliberation to help communities thrive.


UK students plan the first series of WNK? conversations

The first series of What’s Next, Kentucky? conversations will take place at the Good Barn on University of Kentucky’s campus on April 4th, 5th, and 12th. Kentucky Campus Compact is partnering with Dr. Tracy Lu and her Hospitality students to hold conversations with the community about Kentucky’s health, education, and economy. These conversations are designed to encourage talking, thinking, and actions based on Kentuckians’ own ideas for their communities. Stay connected to find out about What’s Next, Kentucky? conversations happening near you!