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New interdisciplinary B.A., B.S. in Appalachian studies available beginning fall 2021

ISSUED: 9 February 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University is offering a new undergraduate interdisciplinary degree program in Appalachian studies, with both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree tracks. The new degree is set to accept majors beginning in fall 2021.

The new program will offer flexibility and opportunities for students that conventional degrees cannot, according to Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, director of the Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities. Students opting for the B.A. degree will select a more conventional track which prepares them for graduate school, law school, or professional studies, while the B.S. track, with its selection of practical minors, provides the tools for going directly into the working world and engaging in the region.

“This new degree is perfect for students who wish to be entrepreneurs, who start or work in small businesses in the region, and individuals wishing to work with the environment, leisure studies, politics—really any field that will allow one to remain in Appalachia and render service,” said Shurbutt.

Dr. Ben Martz, an Appalachian Studies Board member and dean of the College of Business, said that the new interdisciplinary degree “is just the thing for those students who want to remain close to their Appalachian roots and work and live in their state or region.”

Shurbutt noted that there are several other unique aspects of the degree, aside from its flexibility and offering students the tools and skills to allow them to remain and find jobs in Appalachia. One is the service-learning component that gives credit to students who serve the community, and another is the Global Appalachia component which encourages students to look outward and spend a semester abroad in Scotland or Ireland exploring their Celtic roots and cultivating experiences that will help them to think creatively. Students who take this route can waive the required electives in the degree in lieu of a semester abroad.

Provost Scott Beard, who has championed interdisciplinary degree options, said, “The residents of Appalachia have had a long history of innovation and of making the most of limited resources. This new degree program fosters the opportunity for higher education to be the catalyst for social and economic transformation of this often under-resourced region. From tourism and culture, to new businesses focused on sustainability and high tech, this flexible and interdisciplinary degree program prepares students for a successful future not only for themselves, but also for the Appalachian region we serve.”

For more information about the program, contact Shurbutt at sshurbut@shepherd.edu.

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