Science cities, often found in urban areas, are vital to driving economies and providing access to skilled researchers. Many of the world’s leading science cities are located in major cities such as Beijing, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris, Seoul, and London. These cities have research institutions that collectively score a share of 3735 in 2022 for publications in the 82 natural-science journals tracked by the Nature Index.
However, there is growing concern about how science benefits populations living outside urban areas. This has led to tensions between urban and rural communities and contributed to national political trends such as populism. Despite this, scientists can make a significant impact on rural communities through projects that demonstrate meaningful change on the ground. For instance, rooftop solar panels can help alleviate poverty in Chinese villages while research-backed interventions can improve the health of rural immigrant and Indigenous populations in the United States.
This supplement highlights examples of science making a positive difference in rural communities and acknowledges the financial support provided by organizations such as the Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission and Administrative Commission of Zhongguancun Science Park. Nature remains solely responsible for all editorial content.