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Rockefeller Humanities Fellows at UK

The Rockefeller Humanities Fellowships, hosted by the Appalachian Center and UK's Committee on Social Theory, bring scholars and Appalachian activists to UK's campus to interact with faculty and students interested in issues of globalization, democracy and environmental sustainability. This is the second year of the program.

"The combination of elements the grant supports makes this program unique, not only on UK's campus but nationally and internationally," says Wolfgang Natter, co-principal investigator of this four-year project. Natter is an associate professor in UK's Department of Geography.

Tom Hansell, a documentary filmmaker from Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky, will research the connection between coal mining and electricity generation—and the hidden costs of exporting coal and electricity—for a film to increase public awareness of these costs. Kentucky exports twice the electricity it consumes, according to a 2000 Department of Energy study. The Kentucky Coal Association reports that Kentucky exports coal to 26 states and 11 foreign countries.

Susan Williams, who is education coordinator at Highlander Center in Morristown, Tennessee, has worked extensively with immigrant laborers. She hopes to further understanding of the impact of globalization on the flow of migrant workers and why people come to the United States to work. During her fellowship she has spoken about immigrant labor to graduate and undergraduate classes at UK, and conducted research at the Lexington-based Democracy Resource Center.

Jenkeri Okwori, an English and drama professor from Nigeria, is using theatre to educate Nigerians about democracy and citizenship. During his fellowship in Kentucky, he will be studying how groups such as Appalshop and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth have used arts programming to strengthen democratic processes. "I come from a country that only recently emerged from decades of military dictatorship," he says, "so I have a compelling interest in this work."

"The Rockefeller Fellows have brought a deeper understanding to the UK community of how our struggles as citizens are the same, whether in the coal fields of Kentucky, in Tennessee or in Nigeria," Natter says. "What these activists also bring to Kentucky is a renewed sense of hope that we can overcome our problems through the sharing of information and ideas."

—Jeff Spradling, Appalachian Center

Entire In Brief section as pdf