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Appalachian studies faculty featured on BBC Radio Wales

BOONE—Two faculty members from the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University were interviewed on BBC Radio Wales recently about a 40-year exchange between the coal mining regions of South Wales and Central Appalachia.

View larger imageProfessor Patricia Beaver, left, and lecturer Tom Hansell were interviewed recently on BBC Radio Wales. (Photo submitted)

Dr. Patricia Beaver and Tom Hansell traveled to Wales as part of their documentary and community engagement project titled “After Coal: Welsh and Appalachian Mining Communities.” They were invited into the BBC Radio Wales studios by Frank Hennessy, host of the Celtic Heartbeat program.

Their interview discussed coal, culture and the soundtrack of the “After Coal” documentary. The interview begins at the 1:09:50 mark of the June 16 episode and will be available online at until June 23.

“After Coal: Welsh and Appalachian Mining Communities” explores how two mining cultures are facing the challenge of their dependence on fossil fuels. The project explores questions of sustainability, including: what happens when fossil fuels run out? How do resource rich regions transition from their historic dependence on fossil fuels, while sustaining the communities and cultures those fuels helped build? And, how can lessons from these areas speak to other resource dependent regions throughout the globe?

The roots of “After Coal” reach to 1974, when political sociologist Dr. John Gaventa initiated a videotape exchange between coal miners in Wales and Appalachia. This exchange quickly grew to include Dr. Helen Lewis and others from Appalachia. The Center for Appalachian Studies helped host a delegation of Welsh miners in 1979. In 2001, the Center for Appalachian Studies established a study abroad program in Wales, and the “After Coal” project is the latest phase of this long-term exchange.

The social, economic and environmental challenges to Wales and Appalachia in recent decades are at times tragically similar. The coalfields throughout the U.K. were shut down in the 1980s, eliminating more than 85,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the Appalachian coalfields lost more than 70,000 mining jobs between 1980 and 2000 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Employment continues to decline.

For more than a quarter century, Wales has experimented with cultural, economic and environmental strategies to rebuild communities. “After Coal” will reflect on what the Welsh experience after coal means for Appalachian communities that are facing their last generation of mining.

The “After Coal” project is sponsored by the Center for Appalachian Studies. It has received a university Board of Trustees Travel Grant and funding from Appalachian Office of International Education and Development and the West Virginia Humanities Council.

For more information, contact Tom Hansell at or 828-262-7730.