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Appalachian Studies students present at national conference

Appalachian Regional Commission logo

Appalachian studies students from Radford University had the chance to represent their region and their school at the 2013 Appalachian Teaching Project conference in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 6 and 7.

The conference, which is held by the Appalachian Regional Commission, featured student research presentations, discussions of community issues, poster presentations and opportunities for students and faculty from 15 institutions to meet each other.

The 10 Highlanders who attended the conference were joined by Melinda Bollar Wagner, professor of anthropology and Appalachian studies.

"The goal of the Appalachian Teaching Project is to help use community assets to build sustainable communities and help keep people in Appalachia," said Wagner, who was instrumental in designing this year's project.

For RU's Project, "Sustaining the Community Mind for Long-term Resiliency: Appalachian Values Assessment in Floyd County, Virginia," students used qualitative research methods to assess Appalachian values and current trends that affect traditional values.

The project is an exchange between RU and community partners The Old Church Gallery's Floyd Story Center and the Floyd County Office of Community and Economic Development.

The project highlights the data students collected recording interviews with 14 Floyd County farmers and transcribing the interviews verbatim. Using linguistic analyses the students discovered the words most frequently used in the interviews and topics which produced an elaboration of vocabulary, providing insight into the dimensions of rural character, Appalachian heritage and community identity that resident farmers valued.

They presented these findings to the other schools involved in the ATP and, as a requirement of the program, will bring their research home to Floyd to share with the community at events to be determined in the Spring 2014 semester.

Hannah Watterson, a senior archeology student, said that working on research for the ATP provided her a new perspective on the communities of Southwest Virginia. "As a college student it was a really incredible experience to learn about the cultures outside of campus and to share how they define themselves with fellow students and scholars."

To learn more about Appalachian Studies at Radford visit their website.

Dec 17, 2013