As host of the Appalachian Studies Association national conference, March 23–25, IUP positions itself as a trailblazer in northern Appalachian studies, bringing academic opportunities to faculty, students, and alumni.

The conference will be held north of the Mason-Dixon line for the first time in its 35-year history, taking the theme “The Wide Reach of Appalachia.” More than 700 scholars and artists are expected to attend, making it one of the largest conferences IUP has ever hosted.

Appalachian Studies Conference 271“We're certainly drawing attention to IUP as a pioneer in bringing Appalachian studies to northern Appalachia,” says English professor Jim Cahalan (photo, left), conference program chair.

There are no well-established Appalachian studies programs in the northern tier of Appalachia, which includes about three-fourths of Pennsylvania and 13 counties in New York. Cahalan and sociology professor Jim Dougherty (photo, right), who is chairing the conference, would like to change that.

At least 100 IUP faculty, students, and alumni will participate. Over 20 faculty will give presentations on Marcellus Shale, contemporary Appalachian writers, the Northern Appalachian fiddling of western Pennsylvania, folk terms related to health care, and other topics. The Anthropology, Art, Communications Media, Education, English, Geography and Regional Planning, History, Management, Nursing and Allied Health, and Sociology Departments will be represented.

About 20 graduate students and alumni Matthew Ferrence, John Hicks, and Brent House will present.

Undergraduates will also benefit from the conference experience. Eleven students from Cahalan's fall Appalachian Culture senior synthesis course will work at the conference and may attend sessions. Twenty Hospitality students will gain practical experience in conference registration and other tasks in the publishers and vendors area, thanks to Hospitality professor Linda Sullivan's initiative.

In addition, dozens of students are attending five presentations for which they'll earn extra credit from several professors.

Senior sociology major Luray Fladd will help staff the conference information desk and usher at the Si Kahn folk concert Saturday night. She'll attend some presentations as well.

“I'm looking forward to anything regarding Marcellus Shale,” she says, “considering its increasing role in the political and environmental spheres. I'm also interested in sessions on the music and stories of Appalachia.”

Having the movers and shakers in Appalachian studies travel north to Indiana is "probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience for IUP students,” Fladd says.

“I think many students would be surprised to found out how much our community is a part of Appalachia.”

Four Appalachian Studies Conference presentations are free and open to the public. All presentations are open to registrants. Registration is through the conference web site.

— Deborah Klenotic, Web editor/producer, Communications