Journey Appalachia: Industry, Economy, & Migration

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For decades, the Appalachian range served as a backbone for the US industrial economy. From steel manufacturing in the north to coal mining in the south, workers across this region played key roles in building American prosperity.

Changes in policy and global economic trends have created a precarious reality here, with implications extending from politics to daily life. Though high incidences of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity affect many communities, hardship has also spurred innovation. Local leaders are charting new paths forward.

Sample Tour

• Travel from a “Rust Belt” city through rural communities, staying at local lodges or with local families along the way. Assist with projects at residences and in the community.

• Learn about the history of the region and challenges facing those who have lived their whole lives in the region. Visit a senior center to discuss the difficulties of establishing proper elder care in under resourced communities.

• Sit in on class at a local school and learn about the structure of rural education systems.

• Tour a healthcare clinic with a local nurse to talk about disparities in access to healthcare and insurance.

• Sit down with a local politician to discuss the relationship between federal and state authorities, and remote communities. 

• Hear a presentation from young adults on how a new generation experiences growing up in impoverished rural America.

• Head to a local church for services and a discussion with members on the role of faith in coping with crisis.

• Meet a law enforcement officer to learn about their community’s battles with crime, violence, and addiction, and the prevalence of these issues in more impoverished areas of the region.

• Share a meal with a local mining family and learn about the history of coal-mining in Appalachia, and how the industry is changing today.

• Enjoy time for reflection on a hike with overnight camping along the scenic Appalachian Trail, or set off on an exhilarating white-water rafting excursion.

 Relevant themes include community development, social justice, humanitarian studies, manufacturing, industrial engineering, public administration, American history, sociology, anthropology, humanities, education, economics, pre-medicine and nursing, psychology, leadership studies, law, criminal justice, family studies, social work.

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