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During the 20th century, the Tennessee Valley Authority used water power to transform the region’s society, economy, and culture. Those efforts—and the model they became for developing countries looking to overcome rural poverty—will be the topic of a lecture delivered by a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professor on Tuesday, October 24.

Tore Olsson, assistant professor of history.

Tore Olsson, UT assistant professor of history, will speak at 6 p.m. in the Bilo Nelson Auditorium of the East Tennessee History Center, 601 S. Gay Street, downtown Knoxville. His lecture is titled, “How East Tennessee Transformed the World: Following TVA’s Global Career During the Cold War.” It is free and open to the public.

The program is presented in partnership with the UT Department of History and the East Tennessee Historical Society.

Olsson notes that TVA provided thousands of jobs in construction and maintenance, rural electrification, enabled year-round navigation on the Tennessee River, turned eroded land over for reforestation and retirement, and produced and sold low-cost fertilizer to farmers.

The US government actively pushed the TVA model outward during the Cold War, particularly to developing nations looking to overcome rural poverty of their own. Leaders in countries such as Mexico, India, and Afghanistan took note and aimed to shape their efforts based on the TVA model in an attempt to transform millions of lives and the land within their countries.

Olsson researches modern US history within an international context. His first book, Agrarian Crossings: Reformers and the Remaking of the US and Mexican Countryside, was published by Princeton University Press this year.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,