Project Abstract

This is a new course proposal that will introduce students to organizations, institutions, and community leaders primarily responsible for economic and community development in communities of the southern Cumberland Plateau. The goal of the course is to develop local and regional dialogue’s of what the term “community development” means as communities in the historic and scenic Cumberland Plateau transition from natural resource-based economies.

Below are a few of the major course themes:

Local Institutions
Working Landscapes
Community Development
Urban-Rural Nexus
Regional Collaboration
Community Narratives
Attributes of Resilient Communities
Roads and Highways
Tennessee Valley Authority
Natural Resource Based Economies

Students will explore multiple cultural, historical, and political narratives that define the people and places of the region and the many faces of rural community leadership. The course will explore the literature on community development and asset mapping. It will include a community engagement component in partnership with local communities applying asset-mapping tools. The student projects will align with efforts of the Southeast Tennessee Development District and Thrive 2055, regional organizations with the goal of building strong and resilient communities.

Project Alignment with the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies

This course will allow the southern Appalachian Studies program to engage with local communities in a meaningful way, benefiting students, community partners, and regional community development efforts.

Project Impact

Local communities in the south Cumberland Plateau have experienced little population change over the past 50 years, however they have made remarkable strides in preserving stories of their local history, culture, and the environment. This course will explore how these efforts serve as an integral component of community development by drawing attention to the importance of place and the environment. We will learn from the leaders that were instrumental in starting local history museums, protecting local landscapes, and building access to outdoor space. Through interviews with local leaders, we will evaluate and assess how these efforts contribute to the quality of life of local residents and visitors. We hope this course will culminate in meaningful development projects that will involve faculty, staff, students and the community.