Category: News

Gaming and Social Advocacy Workshop

The Humanities Department will be hosting an afternoon, hands-on, workshop for Michigan Tech students on gaming and social advocacy. Students will play games, design aspects of a digital game, and discuss how gaming might be used to promote active participation in social issues and citizenship.

This event is Free and open to the public! Space is limited!
Register by October 31st at

When: Friday, November 6 12:30-3:30pm
Where: Walker Arts and Humanities Center, 120C

Gaming and Social Advocacy Workshop

On the Road

Last Friday, three Michigan Tech faculty attended TeachingWorks, sponsored by the University of Michigan. Shari Stockero (CLS), Amy Lark (CLS) and Evelyn Johnson (HU) represented Michigan Tech’s Teacher Preparation program. These convenings will continue for three years and are aimed at developing 19 high leverage teaching techniques practiced across the curriculum. TeachingWorks aims to raise the quality of beginning teaching through partnering with teacher preparation programs.

(This article originally appeared in TechToday.)

From Meru to Mavis: Something for Everyone at the 41 North Film Festival

A shot from Jimmy Chin's film, Meru.
A shot from Jimmy Chin’s film, Meru.

Mountaineer and photographer Jimmy Chin will present the opening night film at this year’s 41 North Film Festival with his award-winning film Meru. The festival runs from October 23 to the 25th in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and will showcase 17 independent films from all over the world, two featured filmmakers, and an Oculus Rift exhibition. “I travel to film festivals during the year and try hard to keep up with what’s happening in independent cinema,” said festival director Erin Smith. “I pay particular attention to what the community here would be interested in, as well as to programming films that are receiving critical acclaim.”

The opening night film Meru tells a captivating story about risk, determination and friendship, following the efforts of three internationally famous climbers (Chin among them) to reach the Shark’s Fin summit of Mount Meru in the Himalayas. Smith said, “This is the biggest event we’ve ever organized for the festival.” Chin is an award-winning photographer whose work has been featured regularly in National Geographic, and his film won the 2015 Sundance Audience Award. Meru will be shown at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23. Chin will speak after the film, answering questions and meeting with students.

Another festival highlight is a new documentary about the Taser Corporation, Killing Them Safely. With significant implications for engineering ethics and marketing, this documentary investigates how a weapon marketed as “safe” has become responsible for scores of deaths each year. The film will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24 with director and journalist Nick Berardini present.

How and Why Films Get Made

Smith, who is also director of the Humanities Digital Media Zone and teaches digital media and film, said the festival was started eleven years ago to help film students consider the context of film viewing and how and why films get made outside of the dominant Hollywood system. “A festival setting is a much different experience than watching a movie at home or even in a multiplex theater,” she said. As the festival has evolved, it has come to involve more of the Michigan Tech and surrounding community each year.

“I think it’s a unique opportunity for students to view films that we really don’t get access to up here,” said Daniel Grayvold, a fourth-year sound design student. “There’s something for everybody.”

On Sunday, Oct. 25, Drone will be shown at 3:30 p.m. with a panel discussion following about drone use in the military. Help Side will be shown at 6:30 p.m. A documentary premiere for recent Michigan Tech graduate and former basketball player Jillian Ritchie, it is a compelling coming-of-age story that takes on the serious subject of sexual assault.

Among some of the other films screening during the weekend are The Wanted 18, King Georges, Here Come the Videofreex, and T-Rex. Closing the festival is the uplifting and inspiring documentary Mavis! about legendary gospel and blues singer Mavis Staples.

Virtual Reality

The festival will also offer festival goers a chance to try out Oculus Rift virtual reality technology. Projects featured include Herders, which provides an immersive cinematic look into the lives of Mongolian yak herders, and Ferguson Firsthand, which recreates the location of last year’s Ferguson, Missouri shooting and allows users to encounter different perspectives on the event.

Festival sponsors include the Michigan Tech Departments of Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts, the Van Evera Distinguished Lecture Series at the Rozsa Center, Student Affairs and Advancement, the College of Sciences and Arts, Pavlis Honors College, University Marketing and Communication, Career Services, Institutional Equity and Inclusion, the Departments of Social Sciences and Computer Science, the Indigenous Issues Discussion Group, Downwind Sports, and the Continental Fire Company. “The amount of support is really great and a sign that the festival is valuable to our culture here,” said Smith. “I’m grateful for all of it.”

All events are free and open to the public. The festival website with the full schedule and program is online at For more information about the festival and its events, contact Erin Smith at

(This article by Monica Lester originally appeared in Tech Today.)

French-Canadian Heritage Week in Michigan

French-Canadian Heritage WeekIn celebration of French-Canadian Heritage Week in Michigan, the following events are planned:

  • Children’s Story Time—Wednesday, Sept. 30, 10:45 am, Portage Lake District Library
  • Dance—Wednesday Sept 30, 7-9 pm, Finnish American Heritage Center
  • Children’s Story Time—Thursday, Oct. 1, 10:45 am, Portage Lake District Library
  • Concert—Thursday, Oct. 1, 7-8 pm, Chassell Heritage Center
  • Children’s Story Time—Saturday, Oct. 3, 11 am, Portage Lake District Library
  • Music at Farmers Market—Saturday, Oct. 3, 11 am-1 pm, Lake Linden Farmers Market

(For further  information, please click the image.)

French Director Agnès Varda Webinar

The French director Agnès Varda will be in residence at the University of Chicago in October. We have an exciting event scheduled to celebrate her work and life.

On Wednesday, Sept. 30, Café Francais will host a look at Varda’s work in Walker 134 at 5 p.m. And, thanks to the French Embassy, Michigan Tech is one of nine universities selected to participate in a webinar with the renowned director. It will take place on Friday, October 9 at 8 pm in Walker 120A.

Humanities to Host International Conference

Michigan Tech’s Humanities Department will host an international conference, the bi-annual meeting of the American Society of Exile Studies, Friday and Saturday.

Guy Stern, former German professor and Provost of Wayne State University, will be the guest of honor. His keynote address will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Great Lakes Research Center, and will focus on the “Future of Exile Studies.”


(This article originally appeared in Tech Today.)

Michigan Tech Graduate School Announces Award Recipients

The Michigan Tech Graduate School has announced the following Humanities graduate student award recipients:

KaunonenCGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award Nominee

Gary Kaunonen, PhD Graduate in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture





FrostDoctoral Finishing Fellowship

Rebecca Frost, PhD Candidate in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture





You can find more information on the Graduate School’s Awards and Fellowships page.


Volunteer as a Conversation Partner for IESL

Conversation Partners is an opportunity that pairs students in the Intensive English as a Second Language (IESL) program with more proficient English speaking members of the Michigan Tech community. The program is open to students, faculty and staff. Participants commit to one-hour a week of one-on-one informal conversation by signing a contract with the IESL program for one semester. The contract commits them to meet their partner in public places on campus for a minimum of one hour a week.

IESL is offering this opportunity again for the fall semester; consider giving an international student an hour of your time. It makes an enormous difference.

How the program works: 

  1. Interested students, faculty, and staff members may download and complete a form
  2. IESL matches students with participants. The program makes every effort to match people of the same gender though sometimes this may be difficult. IESL will always check with volunteers before matching them with someone of the opposite gender.
  3. IESL introduces the conversation partners to each other at an initial meeting. Both parties sign a contract stating that they will meet on campus once a week for the duration of the semester.
  4. Though partners meet independently, Listening and Speaking teachers will often check in with students.
  5. If there are any concerns, we ask that volunteers contact the IESL program as soon as possible.

Why participate in this opportunity? As a member of the Michigan Tech community, there are many reasons why you should consider and commit to being conversation partner. Here are some of them:

  1. Make a new friend and create a potentially rewarding friendship
  2. Help an international student understand American culture and society
  3. Experience the contemporary global landscape from the unique perspective of one of our international students
  4. Develop deeper cultural awareness and understanding by through a sustained conversation with someone from a different country
  5. Participate in promoting rewarding cross-language relations and cross-cultural dialogue on campus

The role of a Conversation Partner: As a partner your main responsibility is to offer your IESL student conversation practice. At times you may have to explain English language points but we are not asking you to be an English as a Second Language teacher. The goal is for your conversation partner to have plenty of speaking and listening practice.

The IESL program can provide ideas for your weekly meetings at the program’s preliminary meeting. Those who have participated have found the experience rewarding. We urge others to give it a try. Contact IESL with questions at


(This article originally appeared in Tech Today.)

Tech Faculty and Grad Students Hit the Road

On the weekend before orientation, the Industrial Archaeology Program (SS) made a graduate-study tour to Milwaukee. Five Social Sciences faculty and five graduate students (SS and HU, both MS and PhD) investigated industrial production, adaptation to industrial decline and how urban patterns have been affected by industry, both historically and today.

The five-day trip, partly underwritten by the Chipstone Foundation of Milwaukee, included factory process tours, museum visits, and a day at Chipstone discovering explanatory and interpretive strategies for material culture, primarily using the history of the ceramics industry as the focus for the day.

Visits included the Kohler Company, which produces ceramic and cast iron bathroom fittings; Caterpillar Global Mining (formerly Bucyrus-Erie), which builds some of the largest earth-moving machinery on the planet; Harley-Davidson Powertrain Operations, where we saw engines and transmissions being assembled on a state-of-the-art assembly line; La Lune designer rustic furniture company, where small-batch artisanal woodworking is still practiced; and the Falk Foundry (Rexnord Industries) in Milwaukee, which has sadly been decommissioned in the last six months, but which offered a glimpse of active deindustrialization.

Museum visits included the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers (WI), the Grohmann Museum at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, which has an extensive collection of artwork depicting industrial work, and the Iron Mountain (MI) Pumping Museum. The final stop of the whirlwind tour was the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Herrling Sawmill in Greenbush (WI), a reconstructed 1850s vertical sash sawmill. The historically accurate sawmill has been reconstructed on the basis of archaeology done by Michigan Tech’s Industrial Archaeology Program in the 1990s. Sadly, the day we visited the saw blade was misaligned and a main bolt had sheared, so it was not running, but it was wonderful to see the final result of our archaeology of 20 years ago.

(This article originally appeared in Tech Today)