The Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) gives college students the opportunity to engage in research projects that address endemic challenges facing Appalachian communities. Led by the Consortium of Appalachian Centers and Institutes, a coalition of 15 Appalachian-studies organizations, the program includes coursework and active research on issues related to building a sustainable future for Appalachian communities. Faculty and students at each participating institution design and carry out research projects tailored to the needs of targeted communities, many of which are in economically distressed counties. Project reports are presented at a conference held each year in Washington, D.C.
Supported by ARC to help build student leadership capacity, the program teaches real-world leadership skills, taking students out of the classroom and into their communities. The research conducted helps guide communities toward local solutions that help solve significant problems in a sustainable way; and the research presentations challenge ARC to take a fresh look at issues and solutions in the Appalachian Region. Since the program's inception in 2001, research projects have addressed such issues as water quality, local leadership development, the environment, and regional history. Topics for 2012 included addressing environmental issues, preserving Appalachian agricultural heritage, building community through public art, and mapping and promoting community assets.
The ATP is administered by the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). Fifteen institutions from 11 Appalachian states participated in the 2012 Appalachian Teaching Project: Alfred State College (New York); Auburn University (Alabama); Appalachian State University (North Carolina); East Tennessee State University; Emory and Henry College (Virginia); Fairmont State University (West Virginia); Frostburg State University (Maryland); Morehead State University (Kentucky); North Georgia College and State University; Shawnee State University (Ohio); Radford University (Virginia); Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College; the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (Pennsylvania); and the University of Tennessee.