Date of Award

Fall 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Dennis E. Gregory

Committee Member

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Lindsay E. Usher


The southwest region of Virginia has an unstable economy, which cycles through periods of growth and decline. The strategic plans for southwest Virginia propose cultural heritage tourism as a sustainable industry for economic development of this rural region. Institutions of higher education provide education and training for a qualified workforce and community service. This qualitative, single case study on The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail examines the roles of institutions of higher education with regard to cultural heritage tourism for sustainable community and economic development in rural areas. The data sources for this study are the administrators of The Crooked Road and institutions of higher education, including community colleges and four-year colleges, private and public. All institutions of higher education in the study population offer some form of heritage music activities or programs. Not all of the institutions of higher education in the study populations have a formal association with The Crooked Road. Study findings propose institutions of higher education have roles for cultural heritage tourism to support rural economic and community development. Strong institutional leadership and partnerships among all stakeholders are necessary for the sustainability of the cultural heritage events.