Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Geography and Geology

First Advisor

Mark Miller

Advisor Department

Geography and Geology


This case study focuses on the question of whether Delta Hands for Hope, a distinctive, possibly unique faith-based organization, is able to facilitate racial reconciliation and sustainable community development in the Delta community of Shaw. If so, is it a potential model for sustainable development for other communities of the Delta and beyond? This thesis builds on existing literature about sustainable development and development in the Mississippi Delta. The original, empirical research is based on Grounded Theory methodology, a participant/observer perspective, and data gathered through in-depth, open-ended interviews. This research work suggests that racial division is pervasive in every area of the Delta’s social structure and that it perpetuates generational poverty, a struggling educational system, failing city infrastructure, and lack of economic opportunities. Also, the pervasiveness of racial division requires the pursuit of racial reconciliation as part of successful and sustainable community development. Delta Hands for Hope is demonstrating an ability to facilitate racial reconciliation and therefore sustainable community development. Because of this, its philosophy and programs can be used to develop a more effective model for community development in the Delta and potentially other low-income regions.


Honors College Award: Excellence in Research