Campus Life

Free screening of documentary ‘After Coal’ set for Nov. 29

What happens to coal mining communities after the mines shut down?

After Coal profiles inspiring individuals who are building a new future in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky and south Wales. Credit: AfterCoal.comAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A screening of the documentary "After Coal" will take place at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29 at the State Theatre in downtown State College. Co-sponsors of the event include Penn State's Sustainability Institute, the Center for Global Studies, Sierra Club Moshannon, and the Rock Ethics Institute. The screening is free and open to the public.

"After Coal" profiles inspiring individuals who are building a new future in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky and South Wales. This hourlong documentary invites viewers to the front lines of the transition away from fossil fuels. Coalfield residents who must abandon traditional livelihoods share stories from the front lines of the transition away from fossil fuels. Meet ex-miners using theater to rebuild community infrastructure, women transforming a former coal board office into an education hub, and young people striving to stay in their home communities. 

“To explore the challenges facing communities in transition, I traveled to South Wales, where most coal mines shut down after the 1984-85 miners’ strike. I met inspiring individuals who have fought to rebuild their communities,” said Tom Hansell, director of "After Coal."

“Their commitment to place reminded me of my friends in central Appalachia. During my travels, I learned that there is not a simple solution to rebuilding coalfield communities. However, the places that survive have diverse leadership, democratic institutions, and support local culture,” said Hansell.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion with questions taken from the audience. Panelists include:

  • Seamus McGraw, author of "Betting the Farm on a Drought," which, according to Booklist, "has the power to change minds" on climate change.
  • Elyzabeth Engle, doctoral candidate in Rural Sociology, Penn State
  • Randy Francisco, Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign

Before the free film screening on Nov. 29, McGraw will be giving a public talk at 1:30 p.m. in Pattee Library's Foster Auditorium on Penn State’s University Park campus. McGraw is a freelance writer and acclaimed author whose work examines the lives of everyday people dealing with the impacts of big energy and climate change. At a time when the divide between the haves and have-nots, urban and rural people, and liberals and conservatives appears to be at an all-time high, McGraw’s writing is more important than ever.

McGraw’s book, "The End of Country" looks into the divisions and the hopes that have erupted in Pennsylvania’s communities, economy and land as the shale gas revolution has taken off. Tom Brokaw called the book “elegantly written and unsettling account of what can happen when big energy companies come calling in rural America.” McGraw’s most recent work, "Betting the Farm on a Drought," invites readers into the impacts of climate change on people’s lives across the United States. From Atlantic fishermen to Montana anglers, from Florida engineers to fallen conservative representatives, and Penn State scientists to Midwest ranchers, McGraw shows that climate change doesn’t have to be about politics at all, but is something that touches what we do every day.

For more information regarding the events, contact Peter Buckland. For more information about sustainability efforts at Penn State, visit

Last Updated September 20, 2019