The Influence of Private Colleges on Appalachian Identity: A Descriptive Case Study
Chisom, Brian Thomas
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The purpose of this study was to describe the role private colleges in Appalachia play in shaping the region's identity using a descriptive case study method of inquiry. Private colleges have served a vital role in Appalachia in that they have allowed many students in the region the opportunity to attain a college degree. Consequently, these institutions have afforded students in the Appalachian region the chance for a higher quality of life than many of their parents or grandparents (Lloyd, 1969; Neal, 1983; Searles, 1995).However, these same colleges have also served as interveners in Appalachia, and thus been involved in the formation of the region's identity with both positive and negative consequences (Ashworth, 1913; McNeil, 1995; Whisnant, 1994). This study explored Grant College's impact on Appalachian identity by seeking an emic characterization of the institution's role in the region from faculty, staff and students, and the institution's public proclamations. Additionally, this research provided insights into the historic and evolving role of private colleges in the Appalachian region as well as the influence of higher education on regional identity. The findings of this study indicated that Grant College is not engaged in systematic cultural intervention in Appalachia; however, this study does not conclude this is necessarily the case at other institutions in the region.Further exploration of this topic might yield different findings and expand upon the research produced in this study.
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