Course name:


Department, course #, level: History 600-001, graduate
Semester(s) and year(s) taught (without significant variation): Spring 2000
Institution: University of Kentucky
Instructor(s): Ron Eller
1753 Patterson Office Tower
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506

GS 600-001



Led by
Dr. Ron Eller
Director, The UK Appalachian Center

With Participating Faculty

Dr. Dwight Billings (Sociology), Dr. Herb Reid (Political Science), Dr. Shuanna Scott (Sociology), Dr. Stephan Wilson (Family Studies), Dr. Graham Rowles (Geography/Aging), Dr. Jane Jensen, (Educational Policy Studies), Dr. Betsy Taylor (Appalachian Center), and Dr. Julie Porter, (Appalachian Center)

Course Description. This seminar will explore socio-economic conditions in some of Appalachia’s most severely distressed counties and identify public policy strategies for addressing persistent distress. Associated with an initiative of the Appalachian Regional Commission to focus attention on severely distressed counties, participants will examine existing county and regional data on physical infrastructure, human resource capacity and indicators of civic capacity and identify strategies that might encourage sustainable development. Among other things, the seminar will examine issues related to education, health care, housing, job training, transportation, environmental quality, and civic participation. Students will gain some familiarity with a variety of research methodologies including quantitative analysis, geographic information systems, oral history, and ethnographic research. Participants will engage in field-based research and will be invited to present their research findings at a meeting of the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington following the completion of the class.

Texts. Participants will be provided with a notebook and a variety of research materials designed to provide background reading and a data base on selected counties within the Appalachian region. Supplemental reading assignments will be distributed weekly.

Course Format. The seminar will meet regularly each week for two hours to review data, discuss development theory, interact with guest speakers (including faculty, staff from the Appalachian Regional Commission, and citizens from distressed communities), and will conduct at least two site visits to selected counties to conduct field research. Attendance at each seminar session is mandatory. The Appalachian Center will provide travel reimbursement up to $400 per student to cover the cost of transportation and housing related to field-based research. The Center will also provide group transportation (van) and accommodations in Washington DC when the seminar presents its findings to the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Course Requirements. Participants will produce both an individual project and a group presentation that summarizes the results of research on development issues related to severely distressed counties. Individual projects will include a formal research brief on a development issue discussed in the seminar (e.g. education, civic capacity, child poverty, access to transportation, job training, aging, etc.). Group projects will be defined by the seminar but may include the preparation of poster presentations, GIS maps, printed reports, and Power Point or other multi-media presentations. Individual research essays and group recommendations will be published in a "Seminar Findings" report at the end of the seminar.

Evaluation.?Participants will be evaluated on the basis of the following products:

?Participation in Seminar Discussions/Inquiry...20%
Individual Research Brief.........................40%
Group Presentation/Report.......................40%

Course Outcomes:

Upon completion of this seminar, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify and evaluate the major theories of development and underdevelopment as they apply to distressed counties in central Appalachia
  2. Analyze and critically evaluate the weaknesses and assets of selected distressed rural counties, with special attention to physical infrastructure, human resources, and social infrastructure capacities.
  3. Discuss critically the impact of economic, political and social forces on the development of physical, human and social capital in distressed Appalachian counties, and identify the major public programs that have been designed to address local development needs.

4.?Write a scholarly research brief - based upon multiple data sources and research methodologies - that outlines a particular issue effecting the economic development of selected distressed counties.

5.?Participate in the design and preparation of a group presentation of research findings and policy recommendations to public policy makers.

Supplemental Texts.

It is recommended that participants be familiar with the following background works:

John Gaventa, Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian
?Valley ?(Urbana, 1980)

Stephen L. Fisher, ed., Fighting Back in Appalachia: Traditions of Resistance and Change
?(Temple, 1993)

Ronald D Eller, Miners, Millhands and Mountaineers: The Industrialization of the
?Appalachian South, 1880-1930 (University of Tennessee Press, 1982)

David Whisnant. Modernizing the Mountaineer: People, Power, and Planning in
?Appalachia (University of Tennessee Press, 1987)

The Appalachian Land Ownership Task Force, Who Owns Appalachia?: Land
?Ownership and Its Impact (University Press of Kentucky, 1983)

Michael Bradshaw, The Appalachian Regional Commission: Twenty-Five Years of
?Government Policy (University Press of Kentucky, 1992)

Richard A. Couto, An American Challenge: A Report on Economic Trends and Social
Issues in Appalachia
(Kendall/Hunt Publishing, Dubuque, Iowa, 1994)


Time and Place:
12:00- 2:00 Wednesday
Room 128 Erickson Hall

Course Schedule:

Tentative Seminar Topics Date

1. Introduction -January 12

2. Appalachia's Distressed Communities - January 19
....Historical and Cultural Context of Development

3. Poverty, Politics and Government- January 26

4. The Appalachian Regional Commission- February 2

5. Economies of Distressed Areas- February 9

5. Sec./Post Sec. Education and Distress- February 16

6. Aging in Distressed Communities- February 23

7. Health Care- March 1

8. Children and Families- March 8

9. UK SPRING BREAK- March 15

10. ?Strategies For Change Discussion- March 22
......Reports of Research Teams

11. Strategies For Change Discussion - March 29

Reports of Research Teams

12. County Analysis Mining Counties - April 5
......Deficits and Assets

13. County Analysis Non-Mining Counties- April 12
......Deficits and Assets

14. Public Policy and Distressed Counties - April 19
.....Recommendations for Group Presentation

15. Research Brief Due- April 26
.....Review of Group Presentation
.....Individual Research Essays Due


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