As an Appalachian Studies[1] scholar who employs feminist methods, I am interested in marginalized spaces (not limited to but including Appalachia and the global south) while understanding and critiquing power relations in non-normative ways. This means considering knowledge and power through senses, experiences, embodiment, and affect to name a few. I also look to possibilities for radical transformation in non-traditional ways and see higher education as a space of potential. This belief guides my research questions and anticipated learning outcomes.

The key questions guiding my experience in the Global Perspectives Program include but are not limited to the following:

  • How do institutions serve as mediators between people and culture? Who has the power to translate or mediate between the two? More specifically, I hope to explore ways institutions, centers, and programs have approached relationships with the communities and regions they directly impact.
  • How can I more critically assess the concept of “knowledge” and knowledge production’s impact in different areas? For example, how do universities impact the political, cultural, and economic ecology around them? How can we re-imagine this relationship to better serve both the communities and the students? This includes noting how indigenous knowledges and (traditional) arts are brought into formalized discourse
  • I hope to explore the roles and actions faculty members take in bridging the gap between these communities and the intentions behind those actions.
  • Because much of my own pedagogical praxis includes investing in transformative practices and community or experiential engagements, I hope to explore how Freirean pedagogy and such practices are initiated, globally.

Thinking about the ways I can assess and use this experience and to fully engage with the process as a process of learning, I am hoping to adhere to the following learning outcomes:

  • To better articulate, critique, and create meaningful, sustainable place-based educational initiatives
  • To become more comfortable in initiating global projects within the classroom and within my own work.
  • I hope to gain confident in my own beliefs about the possibilities of place based education and think critically about how these possibilities differ depending on specific sites.
  • I will work to maintain a consistent, public account of my travels through a blog and through twitter (@JordanLLaney). I would like to craft a longer, reflective article length paper which further develops these ideas and serves as a useful pedagogical resource.

Echoing the Black Mountain Poet, Charles Olson’s sentiment that the geography is forever “leaning” on us, I am very interested in working towards thoughtful conversations about what it means to be devoted to place-based education within the neoliberal Anthropocene (or, the wildly changing world we live in).

 

[1] Appalachia is most commonly defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) as a 205,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi, including all of West Virginia and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. While twenty percent of the national population is rural, forty-two percent of the Appalachian region’s population is rural. (http://www.arc.gov/appalachian_region/TheAppalachianRegion.asp) Further, it is important to note that the region is often stereotypically depicted in popular media and scholarship. Appalachian Studies is a movement out the 1970s which seeks to better understand the nuanced history and culture of the region and its role within national and global developments.