Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Lynda Ann Ewen

Second Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


This thesis addresses the following research question:

In what ways do rural schools support or undermine rural community viability in the United States?

Following a methodology first recommended by C. W. Mills, the study was organized to include historical, cultural, social, and economic dimensions, which are explained in the first chapter. Chapter 2 looks back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to explore how such a diverse people--originating from Asia, Africa, North American, and Europe--all came under the power of a single ideology of progress and the superiority of urban, modified English culture. The chapter then investigates the American transition from a rural people who labored on the land to an industrialized people today who have little connection to the land or to any particular place. This lack of connection has had a negative impact on the environment and on the viability of rural communities. The schools are part of the story as producers and reproducers of human, cultural, and social capital. Chapters 3-5 take a closer look at three rural groups in the United States: the Old Order Amish, the Menominee Nation, and rural Appalachians in West Virginia. Each chapter examines how events outlined in chapter 2 played out locally, and what sorts of impacts the schools continue to have on community viability along cultural, social, ecological, and economic dimensions. Chapter 6 draws conclusions for rural education today, including rural educational research and reform.


Education, Rural.