Penn State

Kai A. Schafft - associate professor of education , Penn State University Park

Book Title: Endangered Places, Enduring Spaces: Change, Identity and Survival in Rural America

Author: Janet M. Fitchen

Book Description:

Janet Fitchen's work has fundamentally shaped my research interests and my approach to conducting research since the time I was a graduate student. It is little exaggeration to say that were it not for her work I would not be at Penn State, since the research on rural student transiency that led me here was directly inspired by her work and was in fact, from my perspective, an extension of it. An anthropologist who found the most resonance among her rural sociologist colleagues, she was an astute scholar of rural America and brought a deep moral concern to her scholarly endeavors. This was particularly true of her research on rural poverty and homelessness, which at the time was groundbreaking and continues to be influential to new generations of students, scholars, and community development practitioners.

I never had a chance to meet her, as she unexpectedly passed away just as she had accepted a faculty position at Cornell University, and just before I entered Cornell as a graduate student. Regardless, her work, with its academic and theoretical rigor, deeply applied focus, and fundamental and abiding concern for rural people and communities, has provided me with a consistent scholarly and ethical compass. While I have drawn more from Janet Fitchen's journal articles over the years, I am always surprised by how well Endangered Spaces, Enduring Places holds up, nearly 20 years after its original publication, as a statement on rural America and the challenges and possibilities contained within it.

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