A panel of Clemson University faculty and staff will discuss the often-untold stories of rural populations around issues including demographics, health and educational disparities, and politics during the fourth Power of Perspective panel, “Redefining Rural America: What Stories are Missing?” at noon Thursday, October 8.
The panelists will be Michelle Parisi, Rural Health and Nutrition Program Extension director; Daniella Hall Sutherland, assistant professor of educational and organizational leadership development; and Kenneth Robinson, associate professor of sociology and anthropology. The discussion will be moderated by Amber Lange, director of the Office of College Preparation and Outreach.
The panel will discuss economic, health care, education and other opportunity gaps in rural communities that need to be addressed for rural communities to thrive.
“When people think of rural, they often think of white farmers driving around a tractor, and that simply isn’t the case. There is a lot of diversity in rural areas, and especially South Carolina,” said Lange, who offered these statistics about South Carolina’s education system:
- 40 percent of schools in South Carolina are in rural areas, compared to less than 30 percent nationwide.
- More than 20 percent of the state’s nearly 120,000 rural students live in poverty, and households in rural school districts earn barely twice the poverty level on average.
- South Carolina’s rural districts have some of the nation’s highest rates of enrollment for students of color.
“I grew up on a farm in the Midwest and have now been working with families in rural South Carolina for over 13 years,” said Lange. “I had to re-learn that rural does not necessarily mean white and that the only industry is agriculture. It also means generations of families of color that have been left out of the narrative we see on the news. This panel will help expose the various needs of rural communities and educate others on the importance of including everyone’s story.”
The Power of Perspective series is free and open to all Clemson faculty, students and staff. Sponsored by the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center and the Department of Community Achievement and Student Empowerment, the series aims to increase awareness of America’s full history as it relates to race and to promote productive conversations around sustaining positive change. This event is also sponsored by the Office of College Preparation and Outreach and is open to the public.
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