Building a Just Community

“The Catawba Vale Collaborative is a groundbreaking partnership whose mission is to comprehensively redefine rural economic development in Appalachian communities”

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“In Its New Season, Carolina Performing Arts Turns Toward Southern Futures”

“GRAMMY and MacArthur Award-winning musician—and longtime CPA collaborator Rhiannon Giddens will begin a three-year research residency as part of the initiative.”

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Jacqueline E. Lawton, New Co-Director

“…a bold, new, radically inclusive vision for who we are and who we can be.”

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Our Commitments

We support imagining, understanding, and creating regional transformation through three main strategies:

Develop Future Southern Leaders

A thriving American South depends on the next generation of those who want to study, live, and lead in communities across the region. Southern Futures supports undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and others with scholarships, grants, courses, community partnerships, and gatherings to connect the people who care for this region and its future.

Focus on Art, Music, and Storytelling

Storytelling creates connection. Through stories we share ideas, culture, history and values that unite and inspire us. Whether in a documentary, a play, a podcast or an artistic performance, stories help us express and understand the human condition. They shift attitudes and advance culture. They lay the groundwork for cultural, economic and social revitalization in North Carolina and the wider region.

Gather and Share Carolina's Resources

Chapel Hill has a remarkable, multi-disciplinary collection of expertise focused on the South – from its scholarship to its library and archives, museum, UNC Press and its substantial commitment to the arts. Southern Futures brings those resources to communities who can benefit, and brings community wisdom and connection back to campus.


Southern Futures seeks to change the conversation about the South from within.

We believe people can speak for their own part of the world, and we want to give people a platform to tell their own stories. We believe storytelling, art, music and performance have the power to transform. The creativity people use to move the South forward is a model for what people all over the world need. We support the flow of ideas and resources between Carolina and communities. We accept that honesty about the past is necessary to create a bold, new, radically inclusive vision for who we are and who we can be.

Southern Futures, a campus-wide commitment to Carolina’s home region, reimagines the American South by empowering emerging leaders, harnessing the transformative power of the arts, and connecting our campus with southern communities. In partnership with the College of Arts & Sciences, University Libraries, Carolina Performing Arts, and the Center for the Study of the American South, Southern Futures supports faculty, researchers, artists, and storytellers doing extraordinary work to build a future where all southern communities can flourish.

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