The goal of this project is to determine how to effectively engage students in an examination of how place – specifically residence in rural southern Appalachia – affects political opinions and political behavior in Melody Crowder-Meyer’s POLS 328 (Parties and Interest Groups in the United States) course. The aim is to revise this course to include readings and assignments that will engage students in understanding the concept of “Rural Consciousness” as defined by Cramer and in applying this concept to analyze the political opinions and actions of those residing in southern Appalachia.

“One of my primary goals as a professor is to help my students become better informed and more engaged citizens. I believe that it is essential for the citizens of any democratic nation (and especially individuals like our students who are likely to achieve positions of prominence and influence) to identify and understand key social and political challenges facing their nation in order to be able to devise improvements and solutions for these problems. Given the American media environment and their own backgrounds, my students are often prepared to engage with problems like political polarization and gridlock. They are typically less well-equipped to comprehend or grapple with challenges like income inequality or to understand the difficulties facing Americans from particularly undeserved areas – even those just a few miles from Sewanee. In this project, I aim to redesign my POLS 328 course to help students understand the experiences of people living in rural America – particularly rural Appalachia – and the consequences of rural consciousness for American politics.” – Melody Crowder-Meyer 

Final Report