Clean Water And Sustainable Environment Topic For Coal Heritage Lecture Series At Concord’s Beckley Campus

For Immediate Release: 
Jan 31 2014

CONTACT: Sarah Dalton
Concord University
Office of Advancement
PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712


BEAVER, W.Va. – The Coal Heritage Lecture Series, an annual program presented by Concord University’s Beckley campus and the Coal Heritage Highway Authority, kicks off the 2014 season on Tuesday, Feb. 4. The first lecture in the series, “Industry and the Environment and Responsible Development,” will be presented by Eric Autenrith and members of the Plateau Action Network.

The lectures take place on the first Tuesday of February, March, April and May at the Erma Byrd Higher Education Center, 300 University Drive, Beaver, in Room E 10 at 7 p.m. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Plateau Action Network, based in Fayetteville, is an advocate for clean water issues. Autenrith and other members of the organization will discuss how industries can create responsible economic development. They will address past situations in West Virginia and examine how to maintain a sustainable environment.

Each spring, the Coal Heritage Public Lecture Series explores the rich and enduring legacy of coal in the Mountain State. The season will continue on March 4 with singer/songwriter Kate Long as she performs “Songs of the Coalfields.” April 1 will see National Park Service Interpretive Ranger, Billy Strasser, discuss the recent work completed in the town of Nuttallburg in the lecture “Nuttallburg: Then and Now.” Once a model coal camp owned by Henry Ford, the site has been stabilized by the National Park Service and an interpretive trail has been created that is open to visitors.

The series will conclude on May 6 when Gordon Simmons, historian and Marshall University instructor, will explore the culture of resistance in coal miners. “The Miner’s Freedom” considers the history of coal miners and their ability to exert some control in the workforce, despite the autocracy of the coal camps.

The public lecture series is a part of an academic class in Appalachian Studies at Concord’s Beckley campus. The class, Coal Culture in West Virginia, is taught in the spring semester by Karen Vuranch. “The course covers the history and technology of coal mining in West Virginia,” Vuranch said. “But more importantly, it explores the cultural impact on the people of our state.”

Students taking the course for credit hear lectures, watch films and participate in field trips that help them better understand the rich history of coal in West Virginia. Community members are also welcome to audit the course, where they attend all sessions without having to complete assignments for a grade.

For more information, contact Concord University’s Beckley campus at (304) 256-0270.