Professor Melinda Wagner receives grant to study sustainable communities

Melinda Bollar Wagner

Melinda Bollar Wagner, professor of anthropology and Appalachian Studies

This fall, Radford University will be one of 16 universities approved by the Appalachian Regional Commission to participate in the 2013 Appalachian Teaching Project, a program that engages students and regional citizens in posing answers to the question, "How can we build a sustainable future for Appalachian communities?"

Radford has participated in the project several times, including membership in the inaugural cohort of universities in 2001.

"The goal of the Appalachian Teaching Project to help use community assets to build sustainable communities and help keep people in Appalachia," said Professor of anthropology and Appalachian studies Melinda Bollar Wagner who was instrumental in designing this year’s project.

For RU's Project, "Sustaining the Community Mind for Long-term Resiliency: Appalachian Values Assessment in Floyd County, Virginia," students will use the qualitative research methods they are learning to assess Appalachian values and current trends that affect traditional values.

The project is an exchange between RU and community partners The Old Church Gallery’s Floyd Story Center and the Floyd County Planning & Economic Development Office.

The course also prepares students to be mentors in the Floyd County Place-based Education Oral History Project, an intergenerational initiative in Floyd County High School that forms the cornerstone of the Spring 2014 Scholar-Citizen Practicum in Sociology course.

Wagner also oversees the oral history project, which is an ongoing effort to catalogue and preserve the stories of Floyd, Va.'s elder generations.

"Many of high schoolers we started working with were not connected to their community, but the idea was that if they could interview these older community members that would help their connections," Wagner said.

Its goal is to help high school-aged students use advanced research and interview techniques to take the oral histories of elderly residents of their home place, with RU students acting as mentors. Since 2007, emphasis has been on World War II veterans, with a goal of understanding how the war affected young soldiers and their families at home.

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Sep 4, 2013
Bonnie Q. Erickson
(540) 831-5804