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August 28, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Two East TN universities participate in this year’s Appalachian Collegiate Research Initiative

The program has been coordinated for two decades by ETSU which is also one of 13 participants along with UT, Knoxville.

Two East Tennessee institutions of higher education are among 13 named as participants in the latest Appalachian Collegiate Research Initiative (ACRI), formerly known as the Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP).

Sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and coordinated for the past 20 years by East Tennessee State University’s (ETSU) Center of Excellence for Appalachian Studies and Services, the annual program involves students working with a local community to address a critical need that affects their community’s long-term economic development.

Participating ACRI students are enrolled in a for-credit academic course to design and lead research projects in Appalachian communities to address regional challenges. As a finale for the coursework, students and their faculty sponsors travel to Washington, DC, to present their work to other student delegations, ARC leadership, and community leaders at the Appalachian Collegiate Research Initiative Capstone Symposium.

In addition to serving as program coordinator, ETSU is also a regular participant as is the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). In 2022, their projects were as follows:

  • ETSU – A collaboration with the Langston Centre Health Equity Task Force to document the work of health ministries in area Black churches, evaluate health needs within the Black community, and create a three-year strategic plan for the Task Force to address health disparities and economic needs in the community.
  • UTK – A project with Cumberland Gap, TN to explore ways to promote tourism in small Appalachian communities and to evaluate ways electric vehicle charging can help attract visitors and promote economic activity.

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