In Class News

January 29, 2018 at 9:35 am

Students Talk Transportation in Little Cities of Black Diamonds Day

Samantha (Sai) Jones works on the blackboard in the display window of a store while Joy Kostansek, Spencer Szturm, and Patrick Connolly wait outside.

Sai Jones works on the blackboard in the display window of a store while Joy Kostansek, Spencer Szturm, and Patrick Connolly wait outside.

Sociology students were among the presenters when the Ohio village of Shawnee celebrated Little Cities of Black Diamonds Day in October with a focus on the evolution of transportation—from Native American footpaths, to railroads, to the modern highways and recreational trails that cross the region.

The day is hosted by the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council in Shawnee every fall to celebrate the rich history, culture and natural environment of the Hocking Valley Coal Fields located at the corners of southeastern Ohio’s Athens, Hocking, Morgan and Perry counties.

This year’s theme was “Passages to Change: Transportation Transforms the Region.”

Events included a procession of history down Main Street, showcasing a timeline of transportation history and innovation. From early footpaths, to trains, to present day hiking trails, and everything in between, a timeline of Ohio’s transportation history rolled down Main Street.

The day included live music, food, drinks, vendors, guest speakers, and exhibits, including presentations by Ohio University students including Dr. Rachel Terman’s Sociology of Appalachia class. From foot paths to trains to cars and ATVs, Terman’s students talked about how transportation changed Southeastern Ohio. Dr. Michael Kopish’s Social Studies Education students also gave presentations.

a smiling Samantha (Sai) Jones standing next to her poster presenting on Transportation at the 2017 Little Cities of Black Diamonds Day event in October 2017

Sai Jones presents “Addressing Issues of Transportation in Greater Appalachia” at the 2017 Little Cities of Black Diamonds Day in October.

“The experience of being a part of the Little Cities Day was invaluable in terms of personal learning and experience, allowing me to meet many people I would have no reason to know otherwise. I loved being a part of the day through presenting and walking as a hiker in the parade,” said Patrick Connolly ’17.

“I think that is part of the purpose of education—to give back and to be a part of something bigger than yourself. For me, that’s exactly what this class has allowed me to do, and I would encourage any other student to look for the same opportunities to engage with the region that surrounds us,” he said. “I don’t share the same lifestyle or experiences as the people in Shawnee, but if we’re surrounded by people exactly like us at all times, we’ll never learn.”

Terman, Assistant Professor of Sociology, made this annual event a service-learning opportunity for students in her fall semester Sociology of Appalachia class.

Service-learning is a form of engaged learning where students make a connection between what they are learning in their course with the experience of addressing a community need. Students engage in a service project and reflect on their experience as a way of applying course concepts to a context outside of the classroom. In addition to providing a valuable service to the community, students are often able to develop a deeper understanding of the topics they are studying through the service-learning project.

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