IUP Delegation to Participate in Appalachian Teaching Project Symposium in Washington, D.C.

Posted on 12/2/2015 3:29:26 PM

Ten students from Indiana University of Pennsylvania will attend the 15th annual Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) Symposium in Washington, D.C. on December 4 and 5, 2015.

The students will be hosted by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

Supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission and organized by the Center of Appalachian Studies and Services at East Tennessee State University, ATP coordinates student teams from participating colleges and universities in Appalachia to develop applied research projects building a sustainable future for the region. As part of ATP, these projects are formally presented to Appalachian Regional Commission leadership in Washington.

“The Appalachian Teaching Project is a flagship event for the Appalachian Regional Commission and one I look forward to every year,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl. “ATP is an opportunity to hear directly from the region’s next generation and learn about their innovative ideas for community development.  I am always deeply impressed by the leadership, creativity, and poise each student brings to this program and to Appalachia’s future.”

This year’s symposium will feature 150 students representing 15 schools in 10 Appalachian states.  Students from IUP will present a project on “Poverty Traps and Sustainable Solutions: Using Mixed Methods to Understand the Economic Barriers to Living-Wage Jobs in Indiana, Pennsylvania.” Their research team is led by Brandon Vick, who was named an Appalachian Teaching Fellow for the 2015–16 academic year. Vick is an assistant professor of economics at IUP.

“The goal of this project was to get students to interact with the community to better understand the economic lives of local people,” Vick said. “Poverty is a complicated problem that can affect different people in different ways, and anyone can be in poverty at some time in their lives.

“That’s why it was important for students to look at a couple of specific problem areas, such as access to daycare, food insecurity, and job availability and pay. They worked with a number of local agencies, including the Indiana County Community Action Program and the Department of Human Services, to analyze local data and perform group interviews with caseworkers and clients of various services.”

Mixed methods pair quantitative data analysis with qualitative techniques, such as in-depth interviews.

“My economics students researched statistical data to present a broad description of local poverty. We partnered with (IUP professor) Dr. Amanda Poole’s applied anthropology class, who conducted group and individual interviews and analyzed the data they gathered,” Vick said. Six of the students presenting are economics students and four are anthropology students.

IUP has an active Center for Northern Appalachian Studies, involving faculty from a variety of disciplines across the university. Its mission is to provide a locus for the enhanced understanding and appreciation of the richness of the region’s diverse cultural heritage. The Center’s work includes the creation of educational outreach programs, the development of historical archives, and the facilitation of community-based activities.

More than 1,800 students from 19 colleges and universities have participated in ATP since the program began in 2001.

The Appalachian Teaching Project can be followed on Facebook or on Twitter using #ARCATP.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a regional economic development partnership of federal and state governments across 420 counties in 13 Appalachian states. ARC’s mission is to be a strategic partner and advocate for sustainable community and economic development in Appalachia.