Schedule a Lecture

Coal, Climate, and Environmental Backlash:
The Political Repercussions of Environmental Activism in Appalachia’s Coalfields

Jillian Alt/Iowa State Daily

After years of hard work, and millions of dollars invested in environmental advocacy campaigns, marches, and protests, something strange happened. The political landscape of the nation shifted once again to support economics over environmental protection. All the ground that had been gained in climate change legislation and environmental protection is being lost. As our country continues to broaden its political and cultural divide, many people are left wondering, “What went wrong?”

Appalachia has risen as a microcosm of the nation’s underlying socioeconomic problems, and while there exists a great potential to find truth within the Appalachian experience, there’s a problem. Continued exploitation of Appalachia’s social issues within the national media has left people focusing on the long-held stereotypes associated with the region. Without understanding the deeper contexts that shaped Appalachia into what it is today, little hope will be found in better understanding our national divide.

Using my experiences, I’ve set to the task of explaining the economic and political forces that turned one of the nation’s largest labor rights strongholds, into a region of pro-industry attitudes based upon conservative values. Through my presentations, I hope to help audiences understand the issues working-class communities face while illustrating the need to rethink the communications framework of environmental activism and build stronger relationships with people from all walks of life.

Topics include:

  • Corporate Manipulation of Cultural & Political Values
  • Environmental/Liberal Backlash in Rural Communities
  • The Power of the Jobs vs. Environment Debate
  • Audience-Based Communications Strategies
  • Finding our individual place in a just transition

In addition to presentations and lectures, screenings of the documentary film Blood on the Mountain ( will be offered.*

Previous Events


October 12th | University of Massachusetts – Boston, MA

October 23rd
| University of Buffalo – Buffalo, NY

October 24th | Daemen College – Amherst, NY

October 27th  | Virginia Tech – Blacksburg, VA

November 9th | George Washington University – Washington, DC


February 19th | Iowa State University – Ames, IA
2018 Symposium on Sustainability Keynote

March 23th |State of Appalachia Conference –  Pipestem, WV

March 25th | Citizens’ Climate Lobby Southeastern Conference – Asheville, NC

March 26th | Warren Wilson College – Swannanoa, NC

March 27th | Emory & Henry College – Emory, VA

April 6th & 7th | Appalachian Studies Conference – Cincinnati, OH

April 11 & 12th | Smith College – Northampton, MA

Donations are also being accepted to pay travel and living expenses so that speaking engagements can be offered to groups and venues at reduced rates, or for free where honorariums cannot be obtained.

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*Public screening/library licensing fees will apply to postsecondary educational institutions.

**Dates and weeks are subject to change dependent upon the number of requests

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