Spring Break in Coal Country: An ‘Energy Immersion’ Trip

Dartmouth News

May 9, 2018

Coal Country
Students on an “energy immersion” trip observe power linemen in training in Kanawha County, W.Va. (Photo by Joe Fairbanks ’17)

A group of students interested in energy production and policy recently headed for West Virginia and Kentucky to learn how small Appalachian communities are weathering changes in the coal industry. The “energy immersion trip” was sponsored by the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society in partnership with the Dartmouth Sustainability Office.

“We often talk in the energy system about local costs and national benefits, but when you see it on the ground, that’s important. It comes down to respect,” says Elizabeth Wilson, director of the Irving Institute. “Letting students learn how people make their choices, how they live, and what their values are—that’s important to understanding how our policies and technologies affect lives.” ...

... “Meeting all these executives and engineers and other decision-makers, and being welcomed at the local level, creates a responsibility to take what we’ve learned and pass it on, to convey that this region is complex, and an example of many regions that we don’t always take enough time to think about,” says Lily Zhang ’18, an engineering major.

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