Professional News

UK’s Shaunna Scott wins teaching award from Appalachian Studies Association


LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 26, 2023) — The Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) has named Shaunna Scott, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology at the University of Kentucky, winner of its Stephen L. Fisher Award for Excellence in Teaching.

This award honors individuals dedicated to intellectual rigor and pedagogical integrity in constructing and delivering inclusive knowledge about Appalachia and its people. The awards are sponsored by East Tennessee State University’s Center of Excellence for Appalachian Studies and Services. The ASA presents two Fisher awards each year — one to a K-12 teacher and one to a teacher in higher education.

A native of Eastern Kentucky, Scott joined UK as a faculty member of the Department of Sociology in 1990.  She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley (1988) after graduating from the University of Kentucky Honors Program, with a double-major in political science and anthropology and a minor in Appalachian studies (1982). During her 33-year career at UK, she has served as the director of the Appalachian studies program at UK, president of the Appalachian Studies Association and editor of the Journal of Appalachian Studies.

"Dr. Scott has made incredible contributions to Appalachian Studies and sociology at UK and beyond,” said Kathryn Engle, director of the UK Appalachian Center. “She exemplifies what it means to be a teacher, mentor, advocate and citizen in and of the region. She comes from a family of Appalachian teachers — her paternal grandfather, maternal grandmother, great-aunt, aunt, uncle, first cousin, and husband have all been school teachers in Appalachia. She has taught hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students over the years and has impacted the next generation of teachers, researchers, and advocates in the region." 

In 2015, the UK College of Arts and Sciences recognized Scott as a Distinguished Faculty for Community Engagement / Service; in 2022, she was named Outstanding Faculty Instructor in the college. With her editorial colleagues Chad Berry and Phil Obermiller, Scott won the Weatherford Award for Non-Fiction Writing about Southern Appalachia for her 2015 book entitled “Studying Appalachian Studies: Making the Road by Walking.” With Engle, her co-edited volume “Towards Just Transitions: Regenerative Futures for Appalachian Communities” is scheduled to be released by the University Press of Kentucky in March 2024.

Kenton Sena, Ph.D., a lecturer in the UK Lewis Honors College, was also named a finalist for the prestigious Fisher award. Scott and Sena were honored at this year’s ASA conference, which took place at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, March 16-19.

Both Scott and Sena are on the Appalachian studies faculty at UK and have been active in the work of the Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Program. They are also both UK alumni.

UK graduate student Courtney Martin was also honored by the ASA as the winner of the Carl A. Ross Student Paper Award for her paper “Piloting an Oral History Approach to Investigating Appalachian Kentuckian’s Cancer Perspectives.” Martin worked Lauren Hudson (UK graduate and now UK medical student) and Nathan L. Vanderford, Ph.D., associate professor in the UK Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology, on the paper. Martin completed her undergraduate degree at UK this past summer, including an Appalachian studies minor. She is currently pursuing a master’s in health promotion at UK.

The UK Appalachian Center contributes to the land-grant mission of UK by fostering community-university partnerships in research, learning and engagement in Appalachia, a region faced with unique opportunities and challenges toward sustainable development in a globalized context.

The Fisher award was established in 2013 by ASA’s Education Committee and was later named in honor of Stephen L. Fisher, professor of political science from 1971 to 2006 at Emory and Henry University, Emory, Virginia. Fisher, a long-time member of ASA, was the 1999 Carnegie Foundation Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges Professor of the Year and won numerous other teaching awards.

The Appalachian Studies Association, headquartered at Marshall University, is an organization of scholars, activists and community members whose mission is to promote and engage dialogue, research, scholarship, education, creative expression and action among a diverse and inclusive group of scholars, educators, practitioners, activists, students, groups and institutions. The ASA holds an annual conference, publishes the peer-reviewed Journal of Appalachian Studies, and maintains a comprehensive website:

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