Meaningful understanding requires involvement with a community and willingness to push past cultural boundaries.

Why Appalachian  Studies at Sewanee?

Sewanee is more than a college town. The University of the South is situated on an Appalachian plateau that includes vibrant communities outside the gates. The minor in Southern Appalachian studies brings together the efforts of faculty, staff, students, and community partners toward building a transformative education in the region's past, present, and future. It is fundamentally grounded in the Southern highlands and devoted to exploring the factors that have shaped life and imagination here, the trends that continue to mark the area, and prospects that will influence Appalachian identity and development in the years to come.

In this minor, you'll be able to focus on a specific issue in Appalachia or explore a variety of general trends in the region. And you'll gain insights from individuals committed to helping you better understand the region, its people, their challenges, and the rich heritage of the highlands.

Domain Discoveries

If he’s not in the classroom, in the University Archives, or at home, it’s likely that History Professor John Willis is in the woods. That’s where, for the last several years, he has spent countless hours, hiking trails and bushwhacking off-trail, in summer heat and winter ice, to research an environmental and social history of the South Cumberland Plateau. Unlike many historians, Willis conducts much of his research outside, with his eyes and his feet, trekking to seldom-visited tracts on and off the Domain to search for evidence of long-forgotten human activity. Willis reads the landscape like a ship’s captain reads the sea, like a rabbinical scholar reads the Torah—scanning for subtle variations in vegetation and telltale signs in the dirt. All that sweat and squinting has paid off with one discovery after another, giving the lie to the notion that these forests are largely untouched by human hands.

Here, Willis offers his take on five sites along Sewanee’s Perimeter Trail that you, too, can find, if you just look hard enough.

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A Sampling of Courses

Southern Appalachian Studies

Programs of Study & Related Programs

Requirements for the Minor in Southern Appalachian Studies

Requirements for the Minor in Environmental Studies | Website

Meet some professors


John C. Willis
Professor of History and Chair of Southern Appalachian Studies

Walsh-Ellett 201, Ext.1534

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