Issue 12, February 2019
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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. JoyAnna Hopper

While most people think environmental regulation is tied to the left-right divide, with left leaning states desiring more regulation and conservative states less, Dr. JoyAnna Hopper, Assistant Professor of Politics, has found that “organizational cultures, beliefs, structures, and norms have profound impacts on environmental agency activities, and yet these factors are rarely considered.”

According to Dr. Hopper, day-to-day tasks at environmental protection agencies like the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation provide critically important services. These organizations perform quality inspections, assign violations, and issue penalties to individuals and organizations that fail to follow environmental protection policies. State-level environmental agencies vary immensely from state to state, but ultimately are responsible for conducting the majority of environmental enforcement activities in the United States. “Clean air and water are critically important for the health and wellness of our citizens and the environment, so it is important we have an understanding of how these entities work.”

Dr. Hopper’s research primarily focuses on differing structures within these agencies. “Some environmental agencies look very much like the EPA--an agency with a single task of protecting the environment. However, at least 20 state environmental agencies are combined with other mandates, such as protecting public health, conserving natural resources, and even regulating the marijuana industry.” According to Dr. Hopper, bureaucratic research indicates that combined mandates often lead to the neglect of other tasks. “Agencies tasked with numerous regulatory mandates in addition to environmental protection are more cooperative with industry, assigning fewer violations and lower penalties,” says Hopper, “while agencies whose sole purpose is environmental protection are generally more assertive in regulation.”

Currently, Dr. Hopper is working on a book manuscript entitled State Environmental Agencies: The Enduring Power of Design, Culture, and Politics, in which she explores the many facets that impact environmental enforcement, including organizational cultures, beliefs, structures, employee turnover rates, and agency history. Her research has been published in State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Environmental Policy and Governance, and SAGE Research Methods Cases.

--Photo and story by Stephen Priest, C'20

Scholarship Sewanee

Scholarship Sewanee will be held this year on Friday, April 26. Please encourage any student involved in research to consider submitting a paper or poster presentation. The entire Sewanee community benefits from learning about the research in which students have been involved, and it is an important educational experience for the presenting students. The Scholarship Sewanee submission portal will be opening in early March, and abstracts must be submitted by Monday, April 1. 

Student Spotlight:
Kelsey Arbuckle & Alexa Fults

Research and scholarship can take many forms. For Kelsey Arbuckle, C’19, and Alexa Fults, C’21, both politics majors from Grundy County, it has involved uncovering information about a coal mine disaster that was personal for both of them even though it occurred long before they were born. In 1981, Mine 21, near Whitwell, Tennessee, exploded, killing 13 workers. During her sophomore year at Sewanee, Kelsey read a newspaper story about the tragedy and realized that her grandfather had been one of the victims. Further research led her to a blog entry by Dr. Chris McDonough, Alderson-Tillinghast Chair in the Humanities. Kelsey contacted him, and they began a discussion spanning many months that eventually led to the idea on the part of McDonough to create a documentary about the disaster.

In the meantime, Alexa had come to Sewanee, participating in Finding Your Place (FYP), immersing herself in Sewanee traditions, and trying to ignore her rural Tennessee background. A visit with her FYP class to the Grundy County Historical Society changed all that. Alexa realized that there is important and interesting history in her county of origin and that she wanted to study the socioeconomic effects of the downfall of the coal industry and develop a deeper understanding of the role her family played in local history (Alexa’s great, great, great, great, great uncle was the first person to discover coal on the plateau). This new-found interest in coal mining made Alexa a perfect partner for Kelsey to assist with the documentary, and Mine 21 was underway.

Kelsey and Alexa didn’t want Mine 21 to be an “academic thing.” Rather, they wanted to provide a way for local former coal miners and their families, many of whom had never talked about the tragedy before, to tell their stories in a supportive setting. Kelsey and Alexa, being Grundy County insiders, helped these people feel much more comfortable discussing their memories and feelings about the event. Tears were flowing as lifelong friends listened to each other talk about the explosion, its aftermath, and their self-imposed silence, which was intended to protect their families and community. Unlike a statistically oriented assessment of the economics and culture of Grundy County, Mine 21 enabled the community to speak for itself.

Arbuckle, Fults, and McDonough have been invited to Yale University to present their documentary and to talk to faculty and students about handling community trauma. They will be traveling to New Haven at the end of February to present their work and discuss how their documentary may be a first step in healing for coal miners and their families whose lives were torn apart by the explosion. The scholarly endeavors of these two students and a faculty member may turn out to have long-lasting positive effects for local individuals and could serve as an intervention model for other similar events.

Updates on Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow Program

The Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee has recently made some additional decisions about the new Sewanee Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURF). 

All students participating in a summer research experience funded through Sewanee will be considered fellows” in the program. The term research assistantship will be dropped and replaced with research fellowship.

All faculty who will be advising summer fellows will receive a stipend, regardless of whether the fellowship is on campus or in the field, in the US or abroad. The amount will depend on the number of weeks spent supervising the summer fellow.

All students who are awarded University funding for their research fellowship will automatically be included in the on-campus SURF program. No separate forms need be submitted by faculty or students. The application form that students submit to request research fellowship funding is the one that will be used to determine the number of weeks the fellow will receive funding and to identify the faculty sponsor and their stipend amount (based on the number of weeks of funding requested). The deadline for students to apply for funding is March 1.

For more information, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship.
Teaching and Learning at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute 
PARI (Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute) is a former NASA facility in the Pisgah National Forest (Rosman, NC) that has been revitalized as a teaching and learning center for multiple academic disciplines and learners of all ages.  The Appalachian College Association (ACA), of which Sewanee is a member institution, has been working with PARI leadership to arrange orientation visits for interested faculty. The Learning Center at PARI offers a variety of educational programming as well as opportunities for faculty members to develop their own programming. The site includes housing, dining, science exhibits, and a variety of scientific instrumentation. Contact Pollyanne Frantz if you’re interested in exploring the possibilities that PARI offers.
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships

The National Endowment for the Humanities is accepting applications for its 2019 Fellowships competition. The program supports individual scholars pursuing advanced research, with the expected output being either a book, article, digital materials, translation, or other scholarly resources. Applicants can request a minimum award of $30,000 for six months of full-time work, or $60,000 for 12 months of full-time work. Information about awards made between 2015-2018 can be found here. The deadline for applications is April 10, 2019.

ACS Grant Funding

Two opportunities remain for Sewanee faculty and staff to apply for Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) grant funding in 2019. The ACS grant program, supported with funding from the Mellon Foundation, is intended to “…advance the professional growth of faculty and staff, foster diversity and inclusion, build partnerships among the 16 member campuses, and improve collective student and institutional success” ( The ACS has Planning Grants available, which are intended to be used to form collaborative partnerships by supporting face-to-face meetings. Proposed projects should fit into one of these three grant program themes: collaborative curriculum, diversity and inclusion, and innovative instruction. Pre-proposal submission is required in order to submit a full proposal. The project period for proposals submitted during Cycle 1 is July 2019 – July 2020. Proposals submitted during Cycle 1 have the following deadlines: February 25 for completing the Institutional Approval Form (internal to Sewanee); March 20 for submitting pre-proposals to the ACS; and May 31 for submitting final proposals to the ACS. For additional information, including award amounts for each theme, see or contact Pollyanne Frantz.

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