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Appalachian studies center director’s goals include creating partnerships and supporting communities in the region

BOONE—Creating partnerships, pursuing funding and research opportunities for faculty and students, and supporting communities in Appalachia are among the priorities of Dr. William Schumann, the new director of the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University.

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Schuman developed his love of the Appalachia region while a graduate at Appalachian, earning master’s degrees in political science and in Appalachian studies with a concentration in sustainable development. He earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Florida in Gainesville.

His work extends from the Appalachian Teaching Project, sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission, to ethnographic field work in Wales. Schumann worked with a partner to develop a GPS mapping tool to promote sustainable development in rural areas. The “app” has been successfully piloted in Pennsylvania and in Wales to create innovative, democratic partnerships, with broad potential for public education and health, local businesses, and environmental sustainability.

“During the last 13 years I have had the privilege of teaching and researching in all three of Appalachia’s sub-regions: Southern, Central and Northern Appalachia,” Schuman said.

At Appalachian, he plans to build links across campus departments and programs “to wed in-depth learning of the Appalachian region with technical training and other skills to support students’ transition to meaningful employment,” he said, and “pursue policy-relevant funding and research opportunities in support of communities throughout Appalachia, especially those in western North Carolina.”

In addition to teaching at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford’s Department of Anthropology and serving as director of its Allegheny Institute for Natural History, he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the Appalachian Studies programs at Appalachian, Emory & Henry College and Berea College. He has also taught travel abroad summer courses and worked as a consultant for the film project “After Coal,” which explores mining communities in both Wales and Appalachia. The film is directed by Tom Hansell, an assistant professor in the Center for Appalachian Studies and co-director of University Documentary Film Services.

Schumann is the author of “Toward an Anthropology of Government: Democratic Transformations and Nation Building in Wales” (2009) and co-editor of “Governing Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Political Labor, Power and Government” (2012). He has a contract with the University Press of Kentucky for a new book, “Appalachia Revisited: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Regional Continuity and Change.”

Schumann is the center’s fifth director, following Dr. Carl Ross, Dr. David Sutton, Dr. John Alexander Williams and Dr. Patricia Beaver, who served as director from 1979-1984, and again from 1997 to 2013.