Category Archives: Courses and Instruction

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Roman Sidortsov

Roman Sidortsov
Roman Sidortsov

This week, the Deans Teaching Showcase recognizes Roman Sidortsov, assistant professor in Social Sciences. Sidortsov studied at universities in Russia, the US and Great Britain and his credentials include a JD, LL.M in environmental law, and a PhD in polar studies/geography. His research explores energy justice, risk governance, and comparative energy and environmental law and policy in the Arctic.

Dean Bruce Seely in the College of Sciences and Arts identified Sidortsov for accomplishments in Global Issues, a demanding first-year gen-ed course offered by Social Sciences. Seely’s interest was piqued by Sidortsov’s student rating score of 4.53 in a class where very good instructors average 3.8 to 4.0.

Global Issues fits a well-known pattern, in which students in large format, non-major, required courses rate faculty lower than teachers in smaller courses for majors. But Sidortsov, who joined Social Sciences in 2016, seems to have found ways to overcome the initial resistance students exhibited to this type of course. “Virtually every Tech student,” he noted, “comes with a desire to succeed” regardless of their major. So he begins class by asking students “about their vision of success in the classroom, upon graduating from Michigan Tech and several years after graduation.”

Then he works to reconcile his ideas of success with those of his students. “For the second year in a row,” he reported, “my search for the golden mean ended with developing a capacity to think critically in the global context.”

Importantly, this approach shows students the importance and relevance of the Global Literacy and Information Literacy learning goals his class addresses. Instead of wondering why the course matters, students come to see the value of critical thinking in the class, in their majors, in their professional careers, “and in terms of civic engagements, whether it be winning an argument in a boardroom or not falling for a false narrative on social media.”

Thus, his students understand not only why this course matters now, but also the importance of critical thinking as a life-long learning skill. He added that it is a “privilege to be one of the people who gets to start the bright women and men who come to Michigan Tech on this path. Thus, I do my best to make this process relevant, useful and entertaining.”

One strategy he employs are class exercises, such as a discussion concerning the risks associated with nuclear power plants from the points of view of three different stakeholder groups. In another exercise focused on different types of human migration, Sidortsov asks students to develop criteria for locating a research and development center. He added he is fortunate “to utilize my experience of growing up in a foreign country, as well as my professional experiences prior to joining academia. I draw on personal experience often, whether to excite students about study abroad or to save them from afternoon sugar comas.”

He concluded that “sharing a vision of success with your students and working toward it is perhaps the most important and enjoyable strategy that I have employed at Michigan Tech.” His insight matches the recognition that students respond to courses, exercises and faculty who engage with students enthusiastically, opening not only the course content but themselves as persons to the students. He certainly seems to be on to something.

Sidortsov will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer, recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.



Local High School Students Learn Historical GIS with the Keweenaw Time Traveler Team

TimetravelerCareers that incorporate geospatial technologies are among the fastest-growing nationwide. That’s why Michigan Tech and Eastern Michigan University have teamed up on the NSF-funded GRACE Project to introduce high school students to GIS techniques and tools that can be used to tackle community issues.

This summer, eleven students from CLK and Houghton high schools are working as paid interns with researchers in the Department of Social Sciences and the Great Lakes Research Center to help build the Keweenaw Time Traveler, an NEH-funded project directed by Assistant Professor Don Lafreniere (SS). This innovative online historical atlas will allow users to pinpoint data about changes in the built, social, and natural environments of the Copper Country. The students have joined our team of “Time Travelers,” which includes graduate students in the Industrial Heritage and Archaeology program as well as undergraduates from departments across Michigan Tech. Together, they are learning to use GIS to identify, digitize, and follow changes in thousands of buildings and features from 1888-1950.

Timetraveler2

During the six week program, students are exploring the many exciting opportunities provided by mobile geospatial technologies by participating in interactive hands-on field trips, including an afternoon in Lake Linden with Carol MacLennan (SS) exploring the vast milling and processing systems that once studded the western shore of Torch Lake, a related trip on the Agassiz Research Vessel learning about the changing shoreline and water quality, and a day conducting active data collection with mobile tablets and GPS in Calumet to capture the students’ perspectives on how to improve non-motorized transportation in conjunction with the Keweenaw National Historical Park’s Complete Streets initiative. The student interns, who are paid through the GRACE project, will present their work in a final celebration on August 11th in GLRC 2020.  Details forthcoming.  The Keweenaw Time Traveler is co-directed by Sarah Fayen Scarlett (SS) and John Arnold (SS)


Summer Field School Joins Forest Service’s “Passport in Time”

Coalwood lumber camp c.1900

This year’s archaeological field school at Coalwood logging camp, run by Prof. LouAnn Wurst, has been included in the U.S. Forest Service’s “Passport in Time” (PIT) program. PIT is a volunteer cultural heritage resources program sponsored by the Forest Service, with partners including some State Parks and Historicorps. This year’s dig at Coalwood will have Wurst overseeing 10 volunteers from 1-5 Aug. in excavations at the camp’s boarding houses.

For mor information on the PIT program and this year’s offering, click here.


Study Abroad in Cumbria, England

England

Frontiers and Fortresses is preparing for its sixth year of discovery, learning and fun in northwest England.  2015 program dates are July 14 – August 12. The program is based at the University of Cumbria’s Carlisle campus, with five day trips to locations throughout northern England and southern Scotland and one longer four day, three night trip to the medieval city of York.
All students take three courses, SS 3560 – History of England I, SS 3920 – Archaeology of the North, and SS 3960 – International Experience.  All of the courses build upon each other, providing interactive, hands on learning, in the course of four weeks students will visit 10 castles, 4 cathedrals, 6 monasteries and multiple Roman and prehistoric sites in the Lake District and the Boarder regions of England and Scotland.
More information may be obtained by contacting Dr. Blair directly, cblair@mtu.edu, or by attending the information session  on Wednesday October 29 from 5:30 – 6:30 in Fisher 129.  Frontiers and Fortresses, 4 weeks, 3 courses, 9 credits and a lifetime of memories.

 


Frontiers and Fortresses blogs summer school

Carlisle Castle, Carlisle, UK
Carlisle Castle, Carlisle, UK

This year marks the fifth year that Prof. Carl Blair has run the Frontiers and Fortresses summer study abroad program in Cumbria, England, and the first year that he has had the students blog their experiences.  The Track B summer program has just wrapped in Carlisle, their base of operations, but you can read all about the experience through the four-week experience on their Weebly blog.


Peace Corps Ranks Michigan Tech Tops in the Nation—Again

Erica JonesFor the ninth year in a row, Michigan Technological University ranks as the number one university nationwide for the number of Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) students currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers. Michigan Tech has 32 graduate students overseas, earning the University top spot on the Peace Corps’ annual ranking of PCMI and Paul D. Coverdell Fellows graduate schools.

“We have an amazing group of students who enter our program each year from all walks of life,” said Kari Henquinet, director of Michigan Tech’s PCMI program. “They are not only dedicated academically, but also able to apply what they have learned to problem solve and work collaboratively on the ground. Our Master’s International programs are set up to produce scientists and professionals who think creatively, understand social problems and function in multiple cultures. Our graduates go on to work for places like USAID, environmental engineering firms, and non-profit groups such as Doctors Without Borders.”

Read more at Michigan Tech News, by Jennifer Donovan.


Peace Corps Information Session Thursday, March 20

A Peace Corps information session will be held Thursday, March 20, at 6 p.m., in MUB Alumni Lounge B. Peace Corps Volunteers are making a difference all over the world in the areas of education, health and the environment. Stop by this information session to learn more about the benefits of service and how you can live, work and learn overseas after graduation.

View the Flyer

From Tech Today.



Michigan History Day Takes Place Saturday

Michigan History DayAlmost a hundred elementary, middle and high school students will compete at the District 1 regional event for Michigan History Day on Saturday, March 1, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Michigan Tech in the MUB. Finalists in the youth, junior and senior divisions will move on to the state contest on April 26 at Saline Middle School.

Michigan History Day is an educational program of the Historical Society of Michigan and offers a fascinating opportunity to move social science beyond routine learning. Students perform research on an individually chosen topic. They then present their work through the disciplines of writing, art, literature, music, drama and/or visual communications.

“We are expecting a lot of great entries this year,” said Tamara Barnes, Michigan History Day state coordinator. “The students applied this year’s theme—Rights and Responsibilities in History—to create a variety of performances, exhibits, papers, websites and documentaries. We’re excited to see what topics in history come out of this year’s competition.”

Participants from District 1 include students from Houghton-Portage Township Schools, Hancock Public Schools, Lake Linden, Chassell, and Dollar Bay. The public is invited to attend the event. The District 1 competition is sponsored by Michigan Tech.

From Tech Today.

Sponsors

The MHD District 1 coordinators, John Robins and Steven Walton, would like to thank the generous sponsorship of the Dept. of Social Sciences (MTU), the University Archives and Historical Collections (MTU), and the Quincy Mine Hoist Association. IN addition, we would like to thank the two dozen volunteers who will be helping judge, staff tables, and make sure the A/V is operating properly.