Author: Amy Spahn

Susan Martin: Human History of the Keweenaw Lecture February 24

Click here for event flyer.


On Tuesday, Feb. 24, Tech Professor Emerita Susan Martin, expert on prehistoric archeology and ancient copper, will lead a discussion about ancient cultural elements of our region. She will be joined by Seth DePasqual, cultural resource manager at Isle Royale National Park. The event is part of a monthly series of sessions on the Geoheritage and Natural History of the Keweenaw, at the Carnegie Museum in Houghton. The discussions are aimed at the general public but also discuss current research and science.
The Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw is located at Huron and Montezuma in downtown Houghton. Seminars are held in the Community Room on the ground level. Lectures are free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible. The museum will open at 6:30 p.m. for refreshments; lectures and discussion run from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Please contact the Museum for further information at 482-7140.

SS Talk: Durfee on “Evaluating Conditions for the Development of the Arctic”

MaryDurfee4:00 p.m. on Friday, February 13th in AOB 201. 

Mary Durfee will present on “Evaluating Conditions for the Development of the Arctic”.



The crash in oil prices has changed much of the media’s discussion of the potential for the Arctic. Yet, of course, people live and work there, so the Arctic hardly disappears. Meanwhile the US will be taking over the Chair of the Arctic Council and has announced its themes, which are primarily oriented to technologies to cope with the changing environment. The EU is in the midst of consultation on its policy for the Arctic—despite considerable reluctance on the part of EU member states who are also Arctic states. And, of course, the economic collapse of Russia is in progress even as its policies in the Ukraine continue to provoke concern. This talk will evaluate proposed policy prerequisites made in the past decade about conditions necessary for the “development” of the Arctic.

SS Graduate Students’ Energy Plan Makes Semifinalist Status

Houghton_County_Energy_PlanThe energy efficiency and conservation plan for Houghton County, authored by four MTU graduate students, has made it to the semi-finalist level in the national competition for the Georgetown University Energy Prize of $5 million.  The primary authors were Brad Barnett, Brent Burns, and Edward Louie all graduate students in the Department of Social Sciences.  In addition, Abhilash Kantamneni, a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science contributed.  The competition is limited to communities with a population between 9,000 and 250,000, and Houghton County is the smallest-sized semifinalist.

During the fall 2014 semester Barnett, Burns, and Louie were the given the assignment of writing the energy plan in Professor Barry Solomon’s advance seminar course on Energy and Climate Policy (SS6100).  The plan  focuses on energy efficiency improvements and was driven by community outreach efforts, receiving significant input from the community through public meetings.

The next step for Houghton is to hire a manager to lead the effort over the next two years (a foundation grant will fund the position).   Each semifinalist community will compete for two years to reduce their utility supplied energy consumption in a way that is likely to yield continuing improvement within their own community and replication elsewhere.  For purposes of this competition,  community energy consumption measurements are limited to energy supplied by gas and electric utilities directly to all homes and municipal customers in Houghton County.

To read the Keweenaw Now article on the celebration of semifinalist qualification for the Georgetown Energy Prize, click here.


Quivik Expert Witness in BP Oil Spill Trial


FredQuivikProfessor Fred Quivik, an expert witness in the BP oil spill trial, was mentioned in an article published on titled In BP oil spill trial, U.S. witnesses to detail disaster’s economic effect .

As written in the article:  Fred Quivik, a history professor at Michigan Tech University and an expert in environmental litigation. He is to testify that BP XP was treated as part of the larger BP group, with no employees of its own to drill an oil well or respond to a spill.

Click here for the full article.

Solomon Publishes on Biofuel Sustainability in Latin America and the Caribbean


Professor Barry Solomon (SS) published a paper “Biofuel sustainability in Latin America and the Caribbean–a Review of Recent Experiences and Future Prospects,” in the journal Biofuels, online January 2015. It was coauthored with Robert Bailis (Yale University), Christine Moser (Leuphana Universitat, Germany) and Tina Hildebrandt (Edeka, Hamburg, Germany).


The Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region is a leader in global biofuel production, accounting for 27% of supply. This is driven by a proliferation of mandates and targets calling for increased use of biofuels around the world. Unsustainable biofuel production can alter landscapes and stress social-ecological systems. To mitigate impacts, different types of governance mechanisms have been introduced including national regulations, voluntary certification schemes, sustainability standards, meta-standards, and codes of conduct. Voluntary certification has gained prominence in the region, with over 220 producers and processors in 12 LAC countries obtaining certification. However, given the potential social and environmental impacts evident in the region, voluntary certification may be insufficient and stronger sustainability mechanisms may be justified.

Trepal Authors Book Review

Catocin_Furnace_front_coverIndustrial Heritage and Archaeology PhD student Daniel Trepal authored a review of the book Catoctin Furnace: Portrait of an Iron-Making Village by Elizabeth Yourtree Anderson that appears in the latest issue of IA: The Journal for Industrial Archaeology (Volume 38, Number 1).

The book presents a social history of a southern iron plantation that produced pig iron and finished cast iron products intermittently between 1777 and 1903.

SS Talk: Valoree S. Gagnon on “Ethnography and Oral History in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community: Collecting Oral Histories as a Social Experience with Tribal Narrators”

Valoree12:00 noon on Friday, January 16th in AOB 201. 

Valoree S. Gagnon, Environmental and Energy Policy PhD candidate,  will present on “Ethnography and Oral History in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community: Collecting Oral Histories as a Social Experience with Tribal Narrators”


Several scholars have documented additional considerations for doing research in and for tribal communities to ensure cultural needs and protocols are honored. These guidelines include expanding legal and ethical responsibilities, understandings of memory and storytelling, and knowledge of power dynamics between researchers and tribal communities. This paper shares lessons from the field while currently engaged in ethnography and oral history projects with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, offering an alternative framework for teaching and doing Oral History within and for tribal communities. In the practice of collecting oral histories with tribal narrators, challenges to traditional oral history methods are overcome by using novel approaches. Collecting oral histories as a social experience—sharing stories while cooking, crafting, ‘visiting’, and harvesting together—has been employed. These experiences have the potential to transform and contribute to narrators’ comfort, enriched stories, strong memories, relationship building, and knowledge sharing in more traditional ways for tribal members. Like many other tribal communities, the foundation for protecting Keweenaw Bay Indian Community lifeways and culture depends on revitalizing the nation’s history. Thus, oral history as a social experience can significantly enhance the power of story for tribal nations.

Wellstead Publishes on Non-governmental Policy Work and Capacity

Adam Wellstead
Adam Wellstead

Professor Adam Wellstead published a paper co-authored  with Bryan M. Evans , “Tales of Policy Estrangement:  N0n-governmental Policy Work and Capacity in Three Canadian Provinces”, in ANSERJ-Canadian Journal Of Non-Profit and Social Economy Research, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Autumn 2014) pp.7-28.



Recently, there have been a number of Canadian-based studies of federal and provincial government policy workers. One key theme across all of these studies is the importance of well-established networks outside of government. However, these studies have demonstrated that government policy workers interact very infrequently outside the comfort of their own department cubicles. This stands in contrast to the considerable literature on new public governance theory, which suggests that non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including nonprofit groups, should, and do, play an important role in shaping public policy. This article provides some insights into this question and identifies where NGO–government interaction does exist. The descriptive results from a survey of non-governmental organization policy workers across four fields (environment, health, labour, and immigration) in three Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario) clearly illustrate the limitations, at all levels, on interaction between NGO groups and government officials. The article argues that this does not disprove the basic tenet of new governance theory—that non-state actors are engaged, to some degree, in the policy process. The article examines the results of an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression model to determine what factors shape and drive NGO interaction with government.


Baird Presents in Australia

canberraProfessor Melissa Baird presented two papers at the Association of Critical Heritage Studies biennial conference held in Canberra, Australia at Australian National University.

Baird presented her paper titled “Mining is Our Heritage”: Corporate Heritage Discourse and the Politics of Extraction in Michigan’s Upper PeninsulaThe second paper presented, co-authored with Rosemary Coombe, is titled The Limits of Heritage:  Corporate Interests and Cultural Rights on Resource Frontiers.

Baird was elected to serve on the governing board of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies.


Baird Publishes on Heritage, Human Rights, and Social Justice

HSO-105pxProfessor Melissa Baird published a paper titled “Heritage, Human Rights, and Social Justice” in Heritage & Society, Volume 7, Issue 2 (November, 2014), pp. 139-155.



What is the distinction between human rights and social justice frameworks? In heritage contexts, distinctions do matter. Despite its potential in protecting cultural heritage and mediating conflict, human rights regimes have been overburdened in taking on heritage issues. In certain contexts, an inclusion of a social justice agenda provides advocacy and voice to communities whose needs have been marginalized. A social justice approach is positioned to take on issues of inequalities, injustices, or violations of heritage and cultural rights, and provide avenues for “communities of connection” (indigenous, subaltern, descendant, and local communities) to challenge how their heritage is represented.