Term of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


College of Education

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Robert Lake

Committee Member 2

Abraham Flanigan

Committee Member 3

Brian Schultz

Committee Member 3 Email



This dissertation is a personal~passionate~participatory inquiry into the experience of post-high school graduates in South rural Georgia. Theoretically, my research draws upon the works of scholars from critical geography (e.g., Harvey 2000, 2001; Helfenbein, Jr. 2004, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2021; Soja, 1989, 2010), particularly the works on space and place (e.g., Kitchin & Hubbard, 2011), the significance of place (Kincheloe & Pinar, 1991), curriculum of place (Reynolds, 2013), belonging (hooks, 2009), critical studies of southern place (Reynolds, 2014; Whitlock, 2007, 2013), indigenous curriculum of place (Ng-A-Fook, 2007), geography of opportunity (Tate, 2008), critical studies in rural education (e.g., Azano, Eppley, & Biddle, 2001; Reynolds, 2017; Tieken, 2014) and culturally responsive/relevant/sustaining curriculum (Gay, 2000/2010; Ladson-Billings, 1994/2009, 1995, 2014, 2021; Paris & Alim, 2017; also, González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005). Methodologically, my research builds upon an array of personal~passionate~participatory inquiries (e.g., He & Phillion, 2008; Fine, 1991, 2003; Schultz, 2008/2018; Tuck, 2012). While much research has been done on curriculum and rural education, there is little research on the experience of rural education from rural people. Six findings have emerged from my inquiry: (1) Understanding space and place helps identify misconceptions and stereotypes of, and develop cultural spatial consciousness towards, rural people, which is essential for developing rural identities in relation to others. (2) Listening to, and learning from, rural learners (Schultz, 2008/2018) help develop a curriculum of, by, and for learners (Schubert, 2015). (3) The skills and knowledge learned from outside school curriculum (Schubert, 2010) play an essential role in rural people’s pursuits of future endeavors. (4) Cultural consciousness of interconnected rural space, place, identity and power is an ongoing process that should be continuously developed to defy misconceptions and stereotypes about ourselves and others. (5) Engaging in personal~passionate~participatory inquiry (He & Phillion, 2008) helps overcome my misconceptions and stereotypes, and inspire me to consciously engage in critical reflections on myself and dialogues with others to become a culturally responsive/relevant/sustaining educator for all. (6) There is a need for cultivating rural living conditions that raise critical consciousness towards reality, invent strategies to overcome obstacles and face challenges, and create possibilities and equal opportunities for rural people to thrive in education and life.

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