Southern Appalachian Studies


The Collaborative for Southern Appalachian and Place-Based Studies is an initiative that brings together the efforts of faculty, staff, students, and community partners toward building a transformative and replicable model of public scholarship and community action that is fundamentally grounded by a focus on place. Insofar as meaningful understanding of and engagement with a place—whether it be Southern Appalachia or some other place—demands interdisciplinary, trans-disciplinary, and applied approaches, place-based inquiry can catalyze innovative approaches and collaborations that transcend traditional disciplinary, institutional, and academy-community boundaries.

Some central and distinguishing features of the collaborative include:

  • Place-based pedagogies that draw their strength from a concrete focus on southern Appalachia while also equipping students with skills that are valuable and imperative for engaging meaningfully with any place, including the science of framing (with the help of our colleagues at the FrameWorks Institute) and community-based participatory research;
  • Deeply interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary collaborations and approaches, with faculty, students, and community partners from a variety of disciplines working together on mutually identified questions emphasizing exploration of humanistic themes from a variety of perspectives;
  • Academic-community collaborations that recognize the value of public scholarship and of bringing together varied sources of expertise and skills to address community needs and visions; and,
  • Inter-institutional collaborations between Sewanee and Yale, through which we combine the strengths of a small undergraduate liberal arts institution in a rural locale with those of a research-intensive institution with multiple graduate programs in an urban setting.

Educating effective, engaged, socially responsible citizens and transformative leaders who act for the public good requires that we give our students the knowledge, skills, and inclination to bring multiple perspectives and approaches to bear on enduring ethical, social, and scientific challenges. The collaborative embraces place-based, interdisciplinary public scholarship as one promising route.

Professor: Willis

Requirements for the Minor in Southern Appalachian Studies

The minor requires successful completion of the following:

Course Requirements
PSYC 230Child, Family, and Community Development in Rural Appalachia4
Select four additional courses with the SAST (southern Appalachian and place-based studies) attribute, including: 116
Southern Cultures
Cultural Resource Practicum
Human Health and the Environment (Lab)
Literature of the American South
Walking the Land
Foundations of Food and Agriculture
Community Development and Place in Rural Appalachia
Environmental Land-Use Policy
The Many Faces of Sewanee
Introduction to Public History
History of Southern Appalachia
"Ramblin' Blues": The Back Roads of Southern Music
The Politics of Poverty and Inequality
Child, Family, and Community Development in Rural Appalachia
Total Semester Hours20

Southern Appalachian Studies Courses

SAST 220     Place, Memory, and Identity  (4)

This course explores critical intersections of memory, identity, and place from a multidisciplinary perspective. Students engage a series of concepts and skills regarding place--abstractly and concretely--as they relate to efforts by individuals, communities, and societies to gain meaning from the past for the present.

SAST 325     Food, Agriculture, and Social Justice in Southern Appalachia and Beyond  (4)

This course explores how producing, preparing, and consuming meals become expressions of individuality, social unity, and cultural identity that create intimate relationships not only among people but also between people and the natural world. Historical foundations and current systems of food production are examined with specific consideration given to the ways in which differential production and access to food have created disparities in health and nutrition as well as how the Food Justice movement seeks to address these inequities through restructuring and transforming the current systems of production.

SAST 399     Special Topics  (4)

This course focuses on a topic in Southern Appalachian Studies that is not fully covered in existing courses. Content will vary from semester to semester.

SAST 444     Independent Study  (2 or 4)

An opportunity for students to explore a topic of interest in an independent or directed manner. May only count once toward the Minor in Southern Appalachian Studies. Prerequisite: Instructor prerequisite override required.