Author: Amy Spahn

SS Talk: Sarah Cowie on Science and Social Theory in Historical and Heritage Studies”

CowieIntegrating Science and Social Theory in Historical Archaeology and
Heritage Studies” at 4 PM on Friday, October 10, 2014, in AOB 201.
Sponsored by the Visiting Women & Minority Lecture Series and Department of Social Sciences.

Abstract: Too often in the last several decades of historical archaeology and related fields, practitioners have struggled with the artificial division between STEM applications and humanist frameworks.  We feel driven to identify ourselves as methods-people versus theory-people, processualists versus post-processualists, empiricists versus post-modernists, and positivists versus relativists.  However, historical archaeology’s reliance on varied theory and forms of data allows and encourages frameworks that bridge these perceived gaps.  This presentation offers a number of heritage projects from the western US that integrate science and social theory in brief case studies: GIS is used to study panoptic surveillance (at the company town of Fayette, Michigan); geochemical analyses inform studies of 19th century medicine, bodily discipline, symbolic violence, and environmental discrimination (at Fayette and a hospital site in Nevada); database management improves heritage consultation, public outreach, and social capital  with American Indian tribes (heritage stewardship program in Arizona); and federally funded science programs are supporting highly theoretical projects to find pragmatic solutions in federal/tribal heritage relations (Stewart Indian School collaborative archaeology project).  These types of projects and others like them show that despite the rhetoric of division between science and social theory, historical archaeologists can bridge these gaps regularly and with innovative, forward-thinking results.

 
 PDF FLYER:  Cowie 2014


Solomon Publishes on Risk Perceptions toward Nuclear Waste and Uranium Mining

rjrr20_v017_i08_coverFrom Tech Today (October 1, 2014)

Professor Barry D. Solomon (SS) published a paper, “The Utmost Ends of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Finnish Perceptions of the Risks of Uranium Mining and Nuclear Waste Management,” in the Journal of Risk Research, Vol. 17, No. 8 (September 2014), pp. 1037-1059. It was coauthored with Tappio Litmanen and Mika Kari of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Abstract:

There has been substantial social scientific research to determine how people perceive the risks of nuclear power, wastes, and waste management, but not much attention has been given to risk perceptions of other types of nuclear activities. Knowledge about attitudes towards uranium mining and exploitation is increasing, and more attention should be paid to how people perceive the risks of both ends of the nuclear fuel cycle. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to analyze the risk perceptions towards nuclear waste and uranium mining and how these perceptions relate to each other. The analysis is based on Finnish survey data (N = 1180) gathered in 2007. Renewed international interest in nuclear power raised the price of uranium from 2005 to 2007. International mining companies started uranium explorations in Finland because Finnish bedrock is the oldest in Europe, and it is similar to and of the same age as that of the major foreign uranium producers and exporters. Changes in Finnish nuclear power policy make this study timely: while the site for a spent nuclear fuel repository in Eurajoki was chosen in 2001, in 2010, two companies were selected to construct two new nuclear power reactor units in the country. Cross-tabulation of a series of contingency tables based on the survey was used to explore a diversity of nuclear risk perception views. We found that the perception of risks of nuclear waste is quite diversified and that there is no any clear linkage between nuclear waste attitudes and uranium mining attitudes. Although we found that there is a group of double risk deniers and a group of double risk perceivers, risk attitudes cannot be derived automatically from the attitudes towards either end of the nuclear fuel cycle.


Langston Receives NSF Grant on Mining Toxin Migration

Langston1Nancy Langston has received $270,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a three year research project titled “Historical and Spatial Aspects of the Migration of Toxic Iron-Mining Contaminants into the Lake Superior Basin.”

Abstract:

This project investigates the mobilization of toxic mining contaminants in the Lake Superior basin. The investigator will conduct archival research and oral-history interviews, and she will develop a geo-spatial database. She plans to link her historical research with contemporary policy and regulation issues, and to engage with local communities, including Native Americans in the region.

The investigator is a well-known environmental historian whose previous work has drawn on multiple disciplines and generated significant media interest; she has a network of contacts that includes a documentary filmmaker and relevant stakeholder groups. The project will produce a narrative of environmental history with the potential for overlap with important questions of technology, culture, and society. It will be of interest to citizen scientists, a wide-array of scholars, and the general public. The most important broader impact of the project is that it might very well influence contemporary policy and law-making.


Students Win Award at Community Development Society Annual Meeting

CDS Community Capitals Poster Williams 2014 - CopyThis summer a group of students traveled with Professor Richelle Winkler to the Community Development Society 2014 Annual Meeting in Debuque, Iowa to share their research.  The Annual Meeting focuses on research and developments in the field of community development with members representing a variety of fields including: education, health care, social services, government, utilities, economic development practitioners, citizen groups, and more.

Students from Michigan Tech presented two posters on community development projects the Social Sciences department have been working on with the local town of Calumet.  The poster presented by Rhianna Williams, Lorri Oikarinen, Heather Simpson, and Dr. Winkler was on the effect First Friday’s art tours had on the community of Calumet and won an award for best presentation of content.

A poster on Mine Water Geothermal for Sustainable Community Development: Campus-Community Partnerships for Revitalization in Calumet, Michigan was presented by Travis Wakeham, Mayra Sanchez Gonzalez, and Dr. Richelle Winkler, and won runner up for best presentation of content.

In addition to poster presentations Dr. Winkler hosted a panel session on community-engaged scholarship and community development and Master’s Student Rhianna Williams gave a presentation based on her research on water use, allocation, and policy in the Gunnison River Basin, Colorado.

CDS Community Capitals 1500


Industrial Archaeology Students Dig for Answers Around Fort Wilkins

Image from the Holland Sentinel

From Tech Today:

The Holland Sentinel published a feature article on Michigan Tech’s Industrial Archaeology    students’ analysis of early mining activity in the vicinity of Fort Wilkins State Park.

From the Abstract:

 To better document the fort’s history related to copper mining, a group of Michigan Technological University students — led by doctoral candidate Sean Gohman and Patrick Martin, Michigan Tech professor of industrial archaeology — is exploring land  that is now part of the state park, looking specifically for evidence of mining activity by  the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Co., which operated in the region in 1844-48.

Click here to read the full article: Archaeology students seek answers to Fort Wilkins’ mining past


Winkler Publishes on Solar Water Disinfection Method of Cleaning Water for Consumption

SODISRichelle Winkler (SS) and Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) coauthored “Evaluating the Geographic Viability of the Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) Method by Decreasing Turbidity with NaCl: A Case Study of South Sudan,” published in the journal Applied Clay Science.

Globally, about one billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water.  One cheap and easy method of cleaning water for consumption is to put it into plastic water bottles and set it in the sun (SODIS), but this method doesn’t work when the water is muddy.  Pearce and his graduate students found that by adding simple table salt to water muddied with clay, the clay would settle the water enough to allow the SODIS method to work. Winkler worked with a graduate student at Princeton University on demographic analysis of the number of people who could potentially benefit from this salt+SODIS approach in Africa. The demographic team used a geographic information system (GIS) to identify geographic regions with the appropriate soil type, then overlaid that data with population estimates. They found that over a million people in South Sudan, a country where access to clean water is limited, could potentially benefit from this method.

Read the full article here.


Winkler Receives Funding for Geothermal Energy Feasibilty Guide

img. from Ohio DNR
img. from Ohio DNR

Richelle Winkler was recently awarded a Phase 1 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s P3 (People, Prosperity, and Planet) program to supervise an interdisciplinary team of students to develop a guide that former mining communities can use to self-evaluate the feasibility of tapping into water in abandoned mines for geothermal energy. The student design team, led by Environmental and Energy Policy MS student Edward Louie, will present their guide at the Sustainable Design Expo in Washington DC in April 2015 and compete for a Phase 2 award of $90,000 to implement the project. Social science students are partnering with an Alternative Energy Enterprise team led by Jay Meldrum (Michigan Tech’s Keweenaw Research Center) on this project. The full team is also working closely with a community advisory board made up of leaders in the Calumet, MI community. It was Calumet community members partnering in Winkler’s community-engaged research with Main Street Calumet that started the idea for this project.


Winkler’s research cited in age segregation article

Image from Boston Globe Article

Richelle Winkler, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Demography, was cited in a recent article published in The Boston Globe for her research on age segregation. Her work has shown that effects of segregation by age can be as profound as those of more widely-understood racial segregation.

Read the full story in the article entitled, What ‘age segregation’ does to America.  From grade schools to senior villages, we now spend much of our lives on separate generational islands.  Can we reverse the trend?