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Ohio University: Voices Speak About Appalachia


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Title: Ohio University: Voices Speak About Appalachia

Ohio UniversityVoices Speak About Appalachia
  • David Bower, EdD, Education
  • Sharon A. Denham, DSN, Nursing
  • Frans Doppen, PhD, Education

Welcome to Ohio University
Judge Ephraim Cutler 1767-1853
  • 1802 - Introduced legislation to the Northwest
    Territorial Legislature to establish Ohio
    University American Western University
  • 1802 - Chaired the Territorial Legislature
    committee responsible for establishing a
    university in Athens.

Ohio University at a Glance
  • The Athens main campus consists of 202 buildings
    on 1,700 acres
  • Regional campus system
  • 29,088 students
  • 901 full-time faculty
  • 285 undergraduate programs
  • 149,026 living alumni, including 4,953 in other

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Faculty Learning Communities
  • Share ideas with cross-disciplinary groups of
    8-12 members,
  • Engage in a curriculum of discovery and inquiry
    focused on teaching and learning,
  • Participate in activities designed to foster
    social, intellectual, and reflective discussion.

Faculty Learning Communities
  • Successful in post-secondary institutions to
    catalyze deep and sustaining institutional and
    cultural change.
  • Often result in developing a corps of actively
    engaged scholars and leaders.

  • Scholarly Communities of Practice in Education
  • Capacity-building initiative funded by the
    Provosts office and faculty development programs
  • http//scope.citl.ohiou.edu/communities.html

Teaching and Learning In and About Appalachia
  • 2003-2004 9 members
  • 2004-2005 12 members 2 ad hoc members
  • 2005-2006 growing number of participants
  • http//scope.citl.ohiou.edu/FLC/AppalachianFLC/ind

What are communities of practice?
  • Theyre groups of people informally bound
    together by shared expertise and passion for a
    joint enterprise. A community of practice may or
    may not have an explicit agenda on a given week.
    People in communities of practice share their
    experiences and knowledge in free-flowing,
    creative ways that foster new approaches to
    problems. Communities of practice can drive
    strategysolve problems, promote the spread of
    best practices, develop peoples professional
  • Wenger and Snyder (2000)

What are communities of practice?
  • self-generating social networks
  • common context of meaning
  • a recognizable bond among those
  • involved
  • Capra, 2002

Designed and Emergent Structures
  • Designed structures provide stability.
  • Emergent structuresprovide novelty, creativity,
    and flexibility.
  • Capra, 2002

What is the structure of a community of practice?
  • A community of practice can exist entirely
    within a unit or stretch across divisional
    boundaries. A community can be made up of tens or
    even hundreds of people. Membership in a
    community of practice is self-selected.
  • Wenger Snyder, pp. 141-142

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Leadership Roles in Communities of Practice
  • Although communities of practice are
    fundamentally informal and self-organizing, they
    benefit from cultivation. Managers
    shouldidentify potential communities of
    practiceprovide the infrastructure that will
    support such communitiesand use nontraditional
    methods to assess the value of the communities of
  • Wenger Snyder, pp. 143-144.

Unique Individual Experiences
  • Connections between faculty roles and the
    learning community
  • Research, scholarly, and personal interests and
    the learning community

Learning Community Activities
  • Backtalk from Appalachia (Billings)
  • Spotlight on Learning
  • University Retreat
  • Field trips
  • University Survey
  • Website
  • Connections with University Community
  • http//scope.citl.ohiou.edu/FLC/AppalachianFLC/ind

Ohio University Survey
  • Purpose Collect information about the knowledge,
    research, experience, and interests of those
    associated with Ohio University about Appalachia
  • E-mail to explain survey (Athens and regional
  • Survey electronically available spring 2004
  • Quantitative and qualitative measures
  • 23 questions

Survey Participants
  • 491 total
  • 226 considered themselves Appalachians while 259
    did not
  • 62 faculty members (30 tenured)
  • 73 administrative staff
  • 297 students
  • 16 community persons

Interest in Appalachian Studies
  • David Bower, Ed.D.

Interest in Appalachian Studies
  • Our intent was to learn specifically from
    faculty, students, administrative staff, and
    others as to their specific interests in
    developing an academic program focused on
    Appalachia here at Ohio University (OU).

Reported Areas of Interest for Future
  • Take part in a community/university project
    related to an issue of concern in Appalachia
  • Be kept informed about events pertaining to
    Appalachia happening at Ohio University 49
  • Participate in field trips to regional areas of
    interest 43
  • Take a class about Appalachia 28
  • Join a faculty/community activist group related
    to an issue of concern about Appalachia 26
  • Participate in research about Appalachia 2 6
  • Enroll in a workshop about Appalachia 23
  • Join an Appalachian book club discussion 21

Usefulness of an Appalachian Studies Program
Separate and equal?
  • This issue should be addressed in the totality
    of the university because we live and work and
    use the resources of Appalachia. I think a
    separate certification is NOT the way to approach
    this problem.
  • I think issues of Appalachia need to be part of
    the curriculum in all colleges at Ohio

Usefulness of an Appalachian Studies Program
  • I think it would assist in a better
    understanding of the area they will be living in
    during their time with the university and
    discovering the reason Ohio University exists.
  • Creating such a program would make a bold
    statement that Appalachia does matter.

Curricula for an Appalachian Studies Program
  • Several noted that Appalachian people need to be
    involved in the planning, thus avoiding
    perspectives that treat Appalachians as subjects
    from an outsider's point of view.

Interests Pertaining to Appalachia
  • Survey participants mentioned key concerns about
    Appalachian Ohio such as high poverty rates, low
    employment opportunities, literacy levels, and
    problems with educational prospect afforded youth
    in the rural counties.

Environmental Issues
  • Work towards creation of viable and sustainable
  • Protect, maintain, and preserve the natural
    beauty of the region.
  • Create a balance between economic development and
    retention of natural resources.

Collaboration Through Education
  • Understanding and educating people about
    Appalachia and the issues that are relevant to
    the Appalachian area are vital to the growth and
    development of this region.
  • a continuing out-migration problem tends to
    extract the most qualified and the most talented
    of the work force and sends them to either a
    neighboring county or to one of the surrounding
    major metro areas.

  • Because OU is situated in the heart of
    Appalachian Ohio, it has the ability to assume
    leadership to address needs through its diverse
    internal communities. According to many
    respondents, it is critical that Ohio University
    work collaboratively with others in the region.

Perspectives About Stereotypes
  • Sharon A. Denham, DSN

Being Appalachian
  • Being born and raised in the region was primary
    reason to consider oneself Appalachian
  • Reside in a geographic region identified as
  • Family history

Identification as an Appalachian
  • Ties to family and place
  • My family has resided in Athens and Vinton
    County for the past 150 years. Like many of the
    families around here, we were Irish immigrants
    who settled in the region and became coal miners.
    We still possess many of the traditional
    Appalachian values--most notably a commitment to
    hard work and a clannish commitment to family
    (which means that members of my family RARELY
    leave the region to pursue better job
    opportunities, etc.). Like many Appalachians I
    tend to value family and tradition over social or
    economic progress.

Identification as an Appalachian
  • I have always lived in Middleport, Ohio. While
    my community is not really considered
    impoverished, we are what I would consider, at an
    economical disadvantage compared to the rest of
    the state of Ohio. Coal mines and power plants
    have dominated our landscape for years. Although
    the coal mines are gone, the effects are still
    felt in my community. To me, being Appalachian is
    not just about where you live. It also entails
    culture, lifestyle, and life-outlook. I am glad I
    grew up here and continue to live here. In fact,
    I would not have wanted to live in any other

Heritage and Tradition
  • I live in Gallipolis, Ohio, so I'm right there
    in the Appalachian beltline. I've done all the
    old fashioned things learned through generations.
    For one, every summer, my family makes jelly.
    Thats the only jelly we have also. There is no
    store bought kind. My grandma also does chair
    caning, which she taught me how to do a long time
    ago. When I spend the night with my grandparents,
    (they don't have air conditioner) we all go out
    on the back porch, and tell stories and whatnot.
    I'd say that we incorporate all of the old
    fashioned things in with the new activities in
    ever day life, and that makes us Appalachian.

Heritage and Tradition
  • I describe myself as an Appalachian because I
    have lived my life in the foothills of the
    Appalachian Mountains in southeast Ohio. I speak
    the dialect and share the drawl. Though I am not
    of the deep Appalachian culture, I feel a
    connection with the people with whom I have grown
    up with and the culture that has surrounded me
    since birth. Those who know me best refer to me
    as an educated hillbilly a title with which I
    have no qualms.

Personal Values
  • My mother was born and raised in Eastern
    Kentucky and my father is from southwestern
    Virginia. I have lived in southern Ohio since
    birth. The culture practiced in my home was
    Appalachian in form and content. I teach
    Appalachian literature in my classroom whenever I
    have the opportunity. I play the fiddle and

Personal Values
  • I have known that I grew up in Appalachia since
    the term was introduced in 1965. I was born in
    1956 in Athens County. In my county, 20 of the
    residents have to leave the county to go to work.
    I am one of them. I had to leave to find
    employment and was able to buy land here and
    settle here, but can't find work here. I am an
    Appalachian because I work in Cleveland and drive
    back and forth to my home in Hocking County as I
    have done since 1996 when I could finally afford
    to purchase land there. I am discriminated
    against in Cleveland because of my accent and my
    mannerisms. Yes, they never let me forget, I am
    an Appalachian.

Appalachian Converts
  • Maybe more like a converted Appalachian.
    Although I grew up in NE Ohio, I have lived in
    Meigs County since 1980. My interest in life and
    the type of environment that I wanted to live and
    raise my kids really meshed with life in Meigs
    County, I have totally adapted my lifestyle to
    conform to the local community and environment.

Appalachian Converts
  • Many view themselves as Appalachian
  • I have strong personal feelings for the region
    and can not imagine living anywhere else but the
    Appalachian region.

Appalachian Stereotypes
  • Many people outside of Appalachia look down on
    us and believe we are not equal in knowledge.

Appalachian Stereotypes
  • I live and have grown up in what is called the
    Appalachian area, but I (like most of us in this
    region) do not fit the stereotype that always
    seems associated with the Appalachian culture
    (AKA, uneducated hillbilly).

Appalachian Stereotypes
  • Although I am a resident within the region
    considered Appalachia, I do not normally share
    the fatalistic views that seem to appear in most
    of its communities. I believe that things can
    change with an open mind, as well as more
    emphasis on a better education. I refuse to
    believe that these things can't be changed, if
    even at a slow pace.

Appalachian Stereotypes
  • I have lived in Adams County all of my life.
    However, I think Appalachian often also refers to
    the way a person or community acts (i.e. dialect,
    customs, apparel, etc). Therefore, I do not
    believe I am Appalachian in my mindset.

Appalachian Stereotypes
  • A faculty member said
  • I recently answered a survey about the climate
    of diversity at OU and mentioned that stereotypes
    about Appalachian residents are reinforced by
    comments by the faculty during class. Maybe more
    education for the faculty would benefit their
    understanding of the region and its people and be
    a step in the direction of building a bridge
    between OU and the surrounding areas.

Appalachian Stereotypes
  • "Great disparity is evident between the culture,
    income, and thinking of the university life and
    the surrounding Appalachian area. For example, OU
    will host regional high school basketball
    tournaments, but cultural presentations of
    Appalachia are left to local county fairs. So,
    each entity exists in a separate domain."

Extended Family in Appalachia
  • Some respondents had extended family residing in
    Appalachian regions, but did not identify as
    Appalachian even though they lived in the area.

Extended Family in Appalachia
  • A student said
  • No, I don't think I am. I have been raised in
    many different areas so therefore I am myself
    unique and not able to be labeled. Although, my
    family is of Appalachian heritage and they are in
    The Foxfire Book.

Extended Family in Appalachia
  • I moved to Parkersburg, WV, when I was 8 years
    old but don't consider it my home because my
    family is from Pennsylvania and New York, so I
    don't feel that I fit in with the Appalachian

Extended Family in Appalachia
  • Another student wrote
  • I would consider the rest of my family (aunts,
    uncles, cousins) to be Appalachian. They were
    born and grew up in Kentucky as did my mother.
    But I grew up in Columbus, which I find somewhat
    far from Appalachia. I am related to
    Appalachians, but don't consider myself one.

Dont Fit the Stereotype
  • I dont fit the stereotype
  • I dont look Appalachian
  • I am not from an Appalachian area. I'm from an
    upper-middle class suburb of Cincinnati.
  • I just go to school here.

Conclusions about Stereotypes
  • Many view selves as Appalachian due to residence
    or ancestry
  • Some who might be Appalachian chose to
    disassociate themselves
  • Some located in Appalachia for work or studies
    appreciate the uniqueness of the culture
  • Some have want to separate themselves from
    negative stereotypes
  • Who is an insider (i.e., a true Appalachian)?
  • Who is an outsider (i.e., someone from another
    region with distinct cultural differences)?

  • Create opportunities for dialogue and education
    about Appalachia where scholarship and experience
    can be shared.
  • Provide incentives for infusing positive
    representation of Appalachians into curriculum,
    especially for general education requirements.
  • Establish links for Athens campus students to
    learn about culture from southeastern Ohio
    residents and vice-versa.
  • Provide new faculty, administrators, and staff an
    orientation about Appalachia that describes the
    diversity of the region.

Perspectives About Education
  • Frans Doppen, PhD

Discussion Questions
  • Are there questions about our activities?
  • Are there questions about our learning community

  • Capra, F. (2002). The hidden connections. New
    York Random House.
  • Sherer, P. D., Shea, T. P., Kristensen, E.
    (2003). Online communities of practice A
    catalyst for faculty development. Innovative
    Higher Education, 27(3), 183-94.
  • Watts, D. (2003). Six degrees The science of a
    connected age. New York W.W. Norton.
  • Wenger, E. C. (1998). Communities of practice
    Learning, meaning, and identity. New York
    Cambridge University Press.
  • Wenger, E. C., and Snyder, W. M. (2000,
    January-February). Communities of practice The
    organizational frontier. Harvard Business Review,
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