All posts by Steven Walton

Schelly’s article on Early Solar Adopters published

solar panelsChelsea Schelly is just back from Munich where she participated in a workshop on “Greening of Everyday Life” at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Univeristät-München.  There she spoke on “Everyday Household Practice in Alternative Residential Dwellings: The Non- Environmental Motivations for Environmental Behavior.”

She has also recently had an article on her research on people who install solar energy panels published in Energy Research & Social Science.  The article is based on interviews with 48 Wisconsin residents who installed solar and Schelly looked at how the environmental and economic motivations related to the demographic characteristics of the adopters.  As she states in her abstract, the research “offer[s] general insight for understanding investment in renewable energy technologies at the residential scale, suggesting means of improving environmental and energy policy and highlighting avenues for future research.”  Read the abstract and article at “Residential Solar Electricity Adoption: What Motivates, and What Matters? A Case Study of Early Adopters,” Energy Research and Social Science 2 (2014:) 183-191.


Gorman: Before There Was C, There Was N

Gorman, Story of N book cover
The book also made #1 on Carl A. Zimring's Best Books of 2013!

A recent article in the Michigan Tech News highlighted Hugh Gorman’s book, The Story of N and how our current need to fix the nitrogen cycle bears a striking resemblance to problem in the carbon cycle that needs fixing.  Read the full story in the article entitled: “Before There Was C, There Was N: How Humans Derailed the Nitrogen Cycle and Are Trying to Put It Back on Track

It also mentions that his article that came out of his work on the book, “Learning from 100 Years of Ammonia Synthesis: Establishing Human-Defined Limits through Adaptive Systems of Governance,” Gaia 22.4 (2013): 263-270, that won second place in Gaia’s Best Paper competition for 2013.  Congratulations, Hugh!


2013/2014 Social Sciences Colloquia Series

A warm thank you to all our presenters for the 2013-2014 Social Sciences Colloquia Series and Brown Bags.

— Melissa Baird, Colloquia Coordinator


Jorge Garcia Fernandez

  • Think Digital: Photogrammetry on Cultural Heritage Documentation

Sean Gohman

  • Deux Lacs, Deux Moulins, et une Ville: The French Mining Experience in Copper Harbor

John Baeten

  • The Industrial Archaeology and Landscape of the Fairbanks Mining District

Carol Griskavich

  • The Other Calumet: Steel and Subinterns in Southeast Chicagoland, Summer 2013

Mary Durfee

  • “Mind the Gap: Conflicting Legal Rules in the Arctic”

Richelle Winkler & SS4700 Students

  • Exploring the Social Feasibility of Minewater Geothermal in Calumet (presented at the Calumet Public Library in Calumet)

John Arnold

  • Learn to Model, Model to Learn: BIM for IA

Adam Wellstead

  • Night of the Living Dead Theory: Structural-functionalism and Adaptation to Climate Change Policy

Dan Schneider

  • A First-Hand and Historical Perspective on the Practice of Letterpress Printing

Emma Schwaiger & Ankita Mandleia

  • An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understand Pollution: PCBs in Torch Lake

Emma Norman

  • The Power of Water: Renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty

Terry Sharik (Dean of the School of Forest Research and Environmental Science, MTU)

  • The Future of Natural Resource Science at Michigan Tech

Wendy Jepson (Associate Professor of Geography, Texas A & M)

  • “No-win waterscapes”: Household Water Insecurity in Low-Income Communities along the US-Mexico Border

SocSci Grad Students build Wall-E for Winter Carnival

SSGSS Winter Carnival construction crew

The SSGSS (Social Sciences Graduate Student Society) entered the All-Nighter statue-building contest for 2014 Winter Carnival with an entry that fused both the environmental and industrial themes of the department. They chose to build the beloved children’s film character Wall-E, from the film of the same name (2008), who roamed the earth cleaning up the waste from an industrial society that had ruined the planet, but who gave a generation renewed hope in environmental stewardship and the power of the human spirit to survive.

The students that participated came from both Environmental and Energy Policy and from Industrial Archaeology and Heritage.  From the EP side we had Sarkar Mokabbir, Myra Sanchez Gonzalez, Edward Louie, Hamza Raheel, Ronesha Strozier, Amanda Kreuze, and Maggie Morrison.  From IA/IAH we had Lee Presley, John Arnold, Carol Griskavich, Rob Anthony, Leonor Medeiros, and Dan Schneider, while Marc Henshaw and Stephen Sarich fired up the BBQ grill and kept everyone fed. They worked from 6pm on Wednesday through to 3am Thursday morning stamping snow into a 4ft. cube, and then sculpting it into Wall-E’s body.  They built the head and arms separately as well as freezing two clear ice discs for use as Wall-E’s eyes.  The sculpture is notable for being made accurately to scale thanks to John Arnold’s past life as an architect and his use of Sketch Up.

SSGSS is happy to cap off its inaugural year as a student organization with their participation in this event. Part of their mission is to foster collaborative and collegial relationships between the Social Sciences department’s graduate programs (this event is not quite as useful in their role for professional development, but it was great fun!). They are proud to have brought their members’ skills of engineering, architectural design, and archaeological excavation together to make Wall-E a success! They hope to make Winter Carnival All-Nighter statue building an annual tradition.

photo by Edward Louie
photo by Edward Louie
photo by Lee Presley
photo by Leonor A. P. de Medeiros
photo by Steve Walton
photo by Steve Walton
for some reason, we noticed on the Saturday when the public was wandering around campus, lots of little kids wanted their pictures taken nestled between Wall-E's feet. --photo by Alice Margerum

IA Grads in Virgin Islands

IA Grads at Work in USVI

From David Hayes we hear that a number of MTU IA graduates are taking part in a monitoring project in the U.S. Virgin Islands this winter (yes, we here in Houghton are jealous).  In the photo the person on the far right in the maroon shirt is Alicia Valentino (IA ’03) and to her right is David Hayes (IA ’00)  They are working with a large team of archaeologists checking back dirt from an sewer line excavation in Charlotte Amalie on the island of St Thomas on 21 January 2014. This federally-funded project will allow  infrastructure improvement on Main Street, but it runs through a 1500-2000 year old site of the Saladoid people (for more on the ancient Saladoid sites, see this post from the V.I. Daily News last Feb.).  David Hayes  is the principal investigator on this project.


Winkler’s class presents on geothermal heating from mine water

Prof. Richelle Winkler’s class on community engagement reported their findings on the feasibility of using billions of gallons of water flooding area copper mines as a reservoir for geothermal heating in Calumet.  Their study, though largely nontechnical, was well received by an audience at the CLK commons, many of whom wanted to know more about the technical possibilities and limitations.  Winkler emphasized that it was up to the community to decide how to pursue the ideas — whether doing it as a public utility, a publi-private partnership, or however — and referred them to the class’s report on the topic and to a number of experts in the room, including staff from the Keweenaw Research Center, which has already installed geothermal mine water heating and cooling system.

The public event was picked up by numerous news outlets: on campus, locally, as far away as Indiana, and by various tech and mining blogs.


Schelly delivers Green Lecture on Technology

Asst. Prof. Chelsea Schelly presented a lecture last night in the 2013 Green Lecture Series on, “Technology, Nature & Society: Seeing the Social in the Material of Everyday Life.”

Read coverage of the event from the Daily Mininnig Gazette.

About the Lecture:

The technologies that we use in our everyday life – from electricity and transportation technologies, to cell phones and computers, to foods – impact the environment and the ways we relate to one another and to our communities. These technologies also shape the social and political organization of our society. We learn what “normal” life is, through our interactions with the materials that make life possible and comfortable. However, our use of those materials is shaped, and often limited, by factors outside our control, such as the policies that influence their use. In this talk, I will present some of the reasons people adopt alternative technologies (related to broad lifestyle choices and the policies that influence our choices) and some of the potential implications of these alternative technologies for how we meet our material needs and comforts. By recognizing that these technologies have social implications, we can begin to question how to best use these technologies to promote sustainable communities.


SocSci BrownBag: Think Digital: Photogrammetry on Cultural Heritage Documentation

Social Science Brown Bag Speaker Series

Friday, September 27, 2013, Academic Office Building, Room 201.

Jorge Garcia Fernández will present:
Think Digital: Photogrammetry on Cultural Heritage Documentation

The new capacities and potentialities of digital culture are still unfulfilled in various disciplines. In particular, the use of Digital Photogrammetry linked to Cultural Heritage documentation, interpretation, and communication processes is starting to be seen not only as a tool, but also as a new intervention method. This new approach is bringing big gains in accuracy, applicability, and affordability in the CH field.

Jorge Garcia Fernández is a Architect and PhD Candidate, Laboratorio de Fotogrametría Arquitectónica, ETS Arquitectura Universidad de Valladolid, Spain


Study abroad summer 2014: Frontiers and Fortresses in the UK

Study and travel in England and Scotland in the summer of 2014! For the fifth year the faculty-led study abroad program, Frontiers and Fortresses will take students to England for four weeks during Track B for a 3 course, 9 credit program. Please see the F&F full information 2014, or contact Dr. Carl Blair, the program leader, for more information.


Winkler’s class analyzes Calumet’s First Fridays

Students in Richelle Winkler’s Topics in Rural Community Sustainability course (SS 4390) spent the spring semester collaborating with community organizations in Calumet to analyze how First Fridays art tours affect community sustainability.  The project inventoried community assets and assessed how First Fridays contribute to these assets using participation observation, interviews, and surveys of First Fridays participants. The research team surveyed 368 visitors to eight art spaces on First Fridays in February, March, and April of 2013. Study results indicate that First Fridays and the art scene are making broad contributions to community well-being. The program has potential to spur a process of holistic community development; yet there are several opportunities of which First Fridays are not yet fully taking advantage. For instance, social relationships are one of the most important things that First Fridays participants value, and the development of social capital is perhaps the most key contribution of First Fridays.  However, we find that social capital associated with First Fridays remains somewhat narrow as similar people visit the same one or two art spaces each month and interact with one another. These relationships are important, but First Fridays may be missing opportunities to establish new relationships among multiple groups and to integrate younger people and families.  Based on the findings, the team suggests that First Fridays and the art community in Calumet could build on current successes by engaging in a visioning process whereby community members work together to define a vision and goals for the First Fridays program. The process could help to coordinate advertising efforts, build and solidify social relationships, coordinate with external agencies (such as Main Street Calumet, Michigan Tech, or Finlandia), develop leadership, establish a political voice in the community and beyond, and attract more and more diverse visitors.  The community may find that Calumet community members, artists and art space proprietors would benefit from forming a formal Calumet Arts organization that would serve to organize these efforts and coordinate with external groups.

Read the Executive Summary or the First Fridays Calumet Community Report

Team members included:

  • Lorri Oikarinen, Calumet community
  • Heather Hendrickson, senior anthropology major
  • Travis Wakeham, junior anthropology major
  • Ariel Terpstra, MS student in Industrial Archaeology
  • Rhianna Williams, MS student in Environmental and Energy Policy
  • Luke Alvin, MS student in Humanities
  • Heather Simpson, MS student in Cognitive and Learning Sciences
  • Leopoldo Cuspinera, PhD student in Industrial Archaeology
  • Talva Jacobson, PhD student in Industrial Archaeology
  • Richelle Winkler, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Demography, Social Sciences