Tal Stanley

Professor Civic Innovation

A tenth-generation Southwest Virginian, Tal Stanley grew up in Dublin, in Pulaski County. He lives and works at Emory & Henry College where he is the Director of the Appalachian Center for Civic Life, Chair of the College’s Department of Public Policy and Community Service, and Director of the Bonner Scholars Program. He also directs the Master of Arts program in Community and Organizational Leadership.

Tal graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History from Emory & Henry College, magna cum laude. He was a Woodruff Fellow at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where he earned a Masters of Divinity. He earned a Ph.D. in American Studies in the Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory University, where he was a Mellon Dissertation Fellow in Southern Studies.

Tal and his wife Susan have two children, David, 19, and Sarah, 17. He takes immeasurable pride in his family and their accomplishments.


  • Emory University, Atlanta, GA
    Ph.D., American Studies
    M.Div., Candler School of Theology
  • Emory & Henry College, Emory, VA
    B.A., History


In the last academic year Tal’s teaching has involved a range of courses: Public Policy and Community Service, 100 Introduction to Public Policy and Community Service; Public Policy and Community Service 400 Senior Practicum; Public Policy and Community Service 225 Applied Civic Methodologies; Public Policy and Community Service 450 Senior Seminar; Public Policy 460 Independent Study: History, Memory, and Place.


He has written articles, reviews, and commentaries that have appeared in the Appalachian Journal, the Journal of Appalachian Studies, Practicing Anthropology, and various other academic and general interest publications. His book, “The Poco Field: an American Story of Place” is forthcoming from the University of Illinois Press.

He has made presentations and participated in workshops and roundtables focusing on American Studies, Appalachia Studies, service learning, and place-based education and research. In 1998-1999, he served as Vice President the Appalachian Studies Association, in which capacity he was Program Chair for the Annual Meeting of the organization.

In 2008, Emory & Henry College was admitted to the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement

Classification. In 2009, the College was one of six institutions nationwide to receive the Presidential Higher Education and Community Service Award. Emory & Henry was the first Virginia college or university recognized for this award.

Research Interests:

Questions of place and citizenship of place; history of place; American Studies; Appalachian Studies; memory; narrative literature; critical theory; oral history

Student Research:

Public art in Fries, Virginia; Food Security for Low and Moderate-Income Individuals and Families in Washington County, Virginia; Building Sustainable Communities in Appalachia: a Place-Based Approach.

Upcoming Research:

Sustainable Development in Meadowview, Virginia: Development of the Kitchen Incubator; History of Fries, Virginia; McDowell County Nonprofit Development

Professional Experience

Tal has received numerous awards and recognitions for his teaching, community service, and work for, with, and on behalf of the people and places of Southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia. Emory & Henry College awarded him the Earnest E. and Elizabeth C. Maiden Award for Distinctive Service in 2006 and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education, for Exemplary Teaching at a United Methodist Institution, in 2009. The College’s alumni Association awarded him its Carl and Ruth Looney Humanitarian Award, in 2007. In recognition for his work to establish the Meadowview Health Clinic and Community Center, and in recognition of Distinguished Service to Southwest Virginia the General Assembly, Commonwealth of Virginia, honored Tal with a House Joint Resolution (758), passed by the House of Delegates, January 9, 2007, passed by the Senate, January 25, 2007.

Tal serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of Meadowview First, a grassroots community development initiative, and as President of the Meadowview Civic Club. He is chair of the Community Advisory Board of the Meadowview Health Clinic. Tal is a member of the boards of directors for Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems, Inc., as well as Big Creek People in Action in Caretta West Virginia. He has served previously on a number of boards of directors and advisory councils for community and regional groups.

Contact Info

Collins House



Appalachian Center for Civic Life (Collins House)