Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, coordinator of Shepherd University’s Appalachian Studies Program, presented a paper at the Scottish teaching and research conference Bridging Boundaries: Connecting Learning, Teaching, and Research, held June 27 and 28 at the Paisley campus of Glasgow-based University of the West of Scotland (UWS). The conference featured scholars and university teachers from across Britain and Europe sharing research on innovative ways to enhance student learning.
Shurbutt presented her paper “Appalachian Studies in West Virginia: Experiential and Service Learning as a Bridge to the Community.” The paper focuses on innovative learning strategies that are part of Shepherd’s Appalachian studies minor, graduate certificate, and proposed master’s degree, all of which feature experiential teaching methods that connect Shepherd students to the local community and the greater world.
Since the inception of the Appalachian studies minor almost a decade ago, Shurbutt has worked to engage students in service learning through classes such as Civil Knowledge, which provides service learning through participation in Shepherd’s Alternative Spring Break, which for the past two years has taken students to southern West Virginia to work on community service projects. Appalachian studies students also have the opportunity to study abroad at institutions in Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Spain. In addition, an Appalachian road trip is part of several courses offered at Shepherd and the National Endowment for the Humanities summer institute hosted by the university.
During her presentation, Shurbutt shared how Scottish students can apply their University of the West of Scotland graduate work toward completing the Appalachian studies graduate certificate at Shepherd. She also shared information about Shepherd’s new theater studies major, which offers summer internships with the Contemporary American Theater Festival.