The Appalachian Seminar & Tour for Berea College Faculty and Staff

About the Appalachian Seminar and Tour

For more than five decades, new faculty and staff to Berea College have embarked on a tour of Appalachia. The purpose of this is to learn more about the Appalachian region and to better understand the importance of the College’s Appalachian Commitment. Today, the Appalachian Seminar and Tour is underwritten by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This organization has recognized the importance and benefits of such a Berea tradition.

Throughout the years, the Appalachian Seminar and Tour has helped many Bereans:

  • Become better acquainted with the region from which many of our students come
  • Find connections between their own work and the region
  • Build new relationships with Berea co-workers and faculty from other departments.

For those on eleven-month contracts, the College offers release-time from work assignments to take part in this learning adventure. Spouses and partners are also encouraged to attend as space allows.

The program begins with a day of on-campus seminar exploring:

  • Appalachian history
  • material culture
  • diversity
  • politics
  • stereotypes
  • economic development
  • religion
  • health
  • contemporary issues.

The seminar is followed by five days on the road.  Recent tours have traveled from eastern Kentucky into Virginia and east Tennessee.  The tour is dedicated to familiarizing Berea faculty and staff to the rural and urban diversity of Appalachia.

view past tour photos here!

Appalachian Tour 2018

View the Appalachian Tour 2018 Powerpoint


July 30 (Wednesday) LJAC

Orientation with talks by Chris Green (Berea’s Appalachian Commitment), Chad Berry (Appalachian History), Silas House (dialect & stereotypes), and Crystal Wilkinson (being Black in Appalachia)

July 31 (Thursday, daytrip) Jackson, Owsley, and Clay Counties, Ky.

Meet with community participants working with Berea’s Partners for Education’s Promise Neighborhood Initiative

Aug 1 (Friday) Letcher & Harlan Counties, Ky.

Aug 2 (Saturday) Lynch (Harlan Co., Ky.) & Big Stone Gap (Wise Co., Va.)

Meet members of Mount Sanai Baptist Church in Lynch; visit Benham and the Coal Museum to learn about Benham Clean Energy Initiative; observe and discussion MTR site in Va.; dinner & talk @ Big Stone Gap about area economy & well-being; Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama (optional); overnight in Big Stone Gap @ Comfort Inn

Aug 3 (Sunday) Big Stone Gap (Wise Co., Va.) to Norris Dam State Park (Anderson & Campbell Cos. Tenn.) to Knoxville

Attend various churches around Big Stone Gap in small groups; watch Morristown: In Air & Sun while driving to Norris Dam State Park (north of Knoxville); talk about TVA at Norris Dam (3:30); meet with Berea alumni and local musicians @ Ijams Nature Center); overnight at Crowne Plaza in Knoxville

Aug 4 (Monday) Knoxville to Berea

Visit Museum of East Tennessee History; eat lunch and talk with Knoxville NAACP @ Beck Cultural Exchange Center; visit Centro Hispano de East Tennessee; meet with activists and scholars involved in Hispanic & immigrant issues in Tenn.

Aug 5 (Tuesday) LJAC

Decompress & process

Appalachian Tour 2013

  • Peter Slavin’s article (The Atlantic On-Line May 2013)

Appalachian Tour 2008

We also encourage you to view the 2008 Appalachian Tour audio slideshow that contains images from the 2008 tour and commentary from former Appalachian Center Director, Dr. Chad Berry.

Last Updated January 2019