Union hires coordinator, prepares to launch new Appalachian Studies program

Story and photo courtesy of Union College. See the original on Unionky.edu


(Barbourville, KY) – Union College has hired Amanda Fickey, Ph.D., as the new coordinator of Appalachian Studies. She will be an assistant professor of intercultural geography in addition to leading Union’s effort to develop an Appalachian Studies program.

“We have great expectations for our Appalachian Studies program under the leadership of Amanda Fickey,” said Union College President Marcia Hawkins. “Her knowledge of and commitment to this region brings an energy and focus that will serve our campus community while building significant relationships and partnerships with the surrounding community and beyond.”

Fickey, a native of Letcher County with strong ties to eastern Kentucky, recently completed a doctorate in economic geography at the University of Kentucky, where she also earned a bachelor’s degree in history. She holds a master’s degree in folk studies from Western Kentucky University.

Union’s new Appalachian Studies program is positioned for success based on geography and dedicated faculty, according to Fickey. “The location of Union College in the heart of eastern Kentucky’s mountains and the long history of Union’s faculty offering courses and conducting research pertaining to the region make the school ideal for an Appalachian Studies program,” she said.

While Union has been committed to the health and vitality of the region for nearly 135 years, administrators believe this new program will bring these efforts to new heights.

“Dr. Fickey’s expertise in economics, geography and the diverse people of this area will add much to these efforts,” said David Johns, vice president for academic affairs. “She has a deep understanding of the region and has for several years been involved in the most important conversations taking place about Appalachia. She thinks about Appalachia not in isolation, but connected to the world.”

Fickey anticipates that the new program will mutually benefit the region and the college.

“Union College has a unique opportunity to be a leader in supporting educational outreach and economic development for our region,” she said, “and I believe Appalachian Studies can be a cornerstone of future progress at the college. I am excited about this opportunity to teach our students and help establish Union College as an educational leader.”

Fickey has also served as the arts and culture outreach coordinator at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset and was a research fellow at the University of Pikeville’s Central Appalachian Institute for Research and Development.

Before the start of the spring semester, Fickey began working with college and community leaders in organizing the Union College Redbud Festival of Appalachian Culture, which will be held April 11 and 12 on campus. Under the college’s leadership, this 10-year-old festival will now have a stronger focus on Appalachian heritage with an academic component.

For more information about Appalachian Studies at Union College, contact Fickey at afickey@unionky.edu or 606-546-1530.

Union College is a liberal arts college in Barbourville, Ky., related to the First Methodist Church.


2 Replies to “Union hires coordinator, prepares to launch new Appalachian Studies program”

  1. I am VERY interested in a degree in Appalachian Studies. For me, it is the study of my roots and my family, given I have family who live in Eastern Kentucky. I have tried to keep many of the traditions that were passed down to me alive, such as quilting and playing Bluegrass music. The problem I have at this point is that I need a program that is online. I understand that there are certain classes that are difficult to hold online, such as Appalachian Music or Appalachian Folk Art, however, those are things I participate in everyday.
    I hold an Undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati in Human Resource Management and a Master’s degree from Georgetown College in Special Education. I would like to earn my Doctorate in Appalachian Studies.
    If at all possible, when this program is up and running, is there a way for me to work on a Doctorate as independent study? Even though I live in Ohio right now, I am working very hard at moving back to Kentucky. The barriers to this at this time is employment. I work for an online school in Ohio and need to live 45 miles from the border. I have tried very hard to obtain employment as an LBD teacher in Kentucky (I do hold my Kentucky license), however it has been difficult, so that is the reason for the request for an online, independent study program.
    If this is at all possible, please let me know. I understand online learning, and I know there are ways (such as portfolios, etc) in order to show the work.
    Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing from you!!!

    1. Thanks for your interest. We’re certainly respectful of the many challenges that adult students face as they work to further their educations. At this time I don’t know any more details about the plans for Union’s new Appalachian Studies program than what is in the article. You may want to reach out directly to Dr. Fickey, the program coordinator, at afickey@unionky.edu or 606-546-1530. She may be able to help point you in the right direction to help you find what you’re looking for, whether it’s at Union or elsewhere. Best of luck!

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