Auburn University selected to participate in Appalachian Regional Commission’s Appalachian Teaching Project

Published: September 13, 2021

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Auburn University is one of 17 institutions selected to participate in the Appalachian Regional Commission’s, or ARC, Appalachian Teaching Project, or ATP. ATP is an applied research training program during which students work with communities to address needs affecting long-term economic development. Participating students spend a semester developing projects to meet those needs, which they present at ARC’s annual ATP Symposium.

Auburn University’s project, “Developing Leaders in Shorter, Alabama,” was selected through a competitive application process. This fall, students will work with town of Shorter assistant community developer Dennis Powell and Auburn University visiting professor and civil rights icon Bernard LaFayette, Jr. to implement Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation curriculum for leadership development in the afterschool program of D.C. Wolfe Elementary School.

“After spending most of my career focused on education in Appalachia, I can say that there isn’t anything quite like ARC’s Appalachian Teaching Project,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. Manchin worked as an educator in Marion County Schools, served on the faculty of Fairmont State University and was the director of the university’s first Community Service Learning Program. “I believe in leveraging the creativity, ingenuity and potential from within our region to enhance economic vitality. The ATP builds the next generation of leaders through hands-on, applicable work to help solve real problems in our communities.”

Auburn University’s project will join a body of student work that spans more than 20 years. In that time, ATP has helped at least 2,350 students from 29 Appalachian institutions respond to a wide range of issues including downtown revitalization, tourism development, cultural heritage, water quality, education, health and wellness, food insecurity, leadership development, and the opioid crisis. These projects have resulted in lasting benefits, such as community kitchens and gardens, hiking and walking trails, community theater productions, public art installations, collections of oral history and historical artifacts, promotional materials, websites, training programs, local school programming, strategic plans and grant applications, and much more.

“For over a decade, Auburn University students have worked with partners in Macon County on community development projects through the Appalachian Teaching Project,” says Mark Wilson, director of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University. “We appreciate the ARC making this unique opportunity available to citizens in Macon County and students whose education and lives are enriched as a result.”

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachian to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

Submitted by: Maiben Beard