Category: In Print

Langston Publishes Article on Current Administration’s Efforts to “dismantle environmental law”

Nancy Langston
Nancy Langston

Places, a journal of public scholarship on the built environment, published an article by Nancy Langston (SS) analyzing the Trump administration’s efforts to “dismantle environmental law” and other similar political action, particularly in the Midwest. She writes “far-right politicians in the Midwest have been running their states as experimental laboratories where they refine efforts to undermine science and democracy.” Langston also discusses what can be done about this.

Walton Co-Editor and Chapter Author in New Book on the Connection Between Practitioners and Scholars of Natural Philosophy and Science

Steve Walton
Steve Walton

Steve Walton co-edited and authored a chapter in the book “Mathematical Practitioners and the Transformation of Natural Knowledge in Early Modern Europe” published by Springer.

Abstract:  “The book argues that we can only understand transformations of nature studies in the Scientific Revolution if we take seriously the interaction between practitioners (those who know by doing) and scholars (those who know by thinking). These are not in opposition, however. Theory and practice are end points on a continuum, with some participants interested only in the practical, others only in the theoretical, and most in the murky intellectual and material world in between. It is this borderland where influence, appropriation, and collaboration have the potential to lead to new methods, new subjects of enquiry, and new social structures of natural philosophy and science.”

Winkler- MTU/UNH Research Finds Migration Making Most American Counties More Diverse

Richelle Winkler
Richelle Winkler

Richelle Winkler co-authored a research brief, Moving to Diversity, with Kenneth Johnson from the University of New Hamphire.  Using new data and techniques, they find that net migration between counties increased racial diversity in each of the last two decades.  The full report can be found here:

Deans’ Teaching Showcase: Don Lafreniere

Bruce Seely and Don Lafreniere
Bruce Seely and Don Lafreniere

This week, the Deans’ Teaching Showcase returns to the College of Sciences and Arts, where Dean Bruce Seely has selected Don Lafreniere, an assistant professor in the Social Sciences Department.

Seely says that he nominated Lafreniere partly to highlight the area in which he is teaching — geographic information systems (GIS).

According to Seely, “Much of Don’s teaching helps students grasp the importance of geography generally and geospatial thinking specifically. This is what he cares about, and his enthusiasm and energy show in every discussion on this topic.”

But Seely says his primary reason for recognizing Lafreniere in this year’s Teaching Showcase comes back to his approach to student learning.

“In all my classes,” Lafreniere notes, “I strive to provide an environment in which students are comfortable questioning themselves and each other while facing the discomfort of challenging their accepted viewpoints. In small classes, I arrange the students in a circle, allowing for more intimate discussions and debates. I sit with my students, asking provocative questions and telling stories that push them to question their assumptions and inquire about how things are interconnected.”

Seely was intrigued by Lafreniere’s way of introducing the topic of homelessness. After assembling in the classroom, he told students to take off their coats and “follow me outside on a February morning. We stand in the snow, shivering, as I briefly outline the origins of homelessness in cities. We return to the warmth of the classroom to watch a short documentary in which homeless people share their experiences, then conclude with a discussion of the complexities of this social issue.”

This approach surely makes homelessness a more real situation to college students. For similar reasons, Lafreniere creates field experiences in every class, such as sending students to local grocery stores to “investigate the origins of fresh produce and to record all the manufacturers of a category of products, such as soup or cereal.”

This information informs a required report on how changes in the global food system are observed locally.

Lafreniere’s classroom effort also recognizes that “today’s university students live technologically-saturated lives.” Therefore he “embraces the use of technology to engage them.”

Lafreniere uses both Mentimeter and Poll Everywhere, two response systems that allows students to answer questions via their laptops or cellphones. The results are displayed in real-time on a PowerPoint slide and help gauge student comprehension.

Frequently Lafreniere brings online digital exhibits into courses. For example, he “illustrated the process of socially-constructed places with PhilaPlace, an interactive archive which allows residents of Philadelphia to map their own stories of places in their neighborhood.”

While Lafreniere spends much of his time helping students master the computer-based technology of GIS, he presents that tool as only a technique for continuing to question themselves about the natural and built environment that surrounds them.  His enthusiasm for that task is why he is part of this year’s Deans Teaching Showcase.

Lafreniere will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 11 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.

Industrial Archaeology: Capturing History

Photo MTU Archives Once a thriving, profitable mine, the Cliff contained very few physical remains by the time this photograph was taken in 1905, presenting a challenge to archaeologists wanting to create an accurate map of the former surface plant. 

The Department of Social Sciences’ Industrial Archaeology Program was recently the topic of two stories featured in the Daily Mining Gazette giving an insight to industrial archaeology.  Click on the title to read more:

False move blows up history: Industrial sites often have complicated archaeologies

Industrial Archaeology: Field goes beyond record to find escaped history

Map Your History! Trepal Explains

Dan Trepal
Dan Trepal

Dan Trepal, IHA PhD student,  recently had a post published by the Canadian Historical Geographic Information Systems Partnership titled:  Map Your History! Building and Sharing a Historical Spatial Data Infrastructure with the Keweenaw Time Traveler Project.  Dan discusses the historical GIS infrastructure underpinning the Keweenaw Time Traveler Project (headed by Co-PIs Dr. Don Lafreniere, Dr. Sarah Scarlett, and IHA PhD candidate John Arnold ) and describes some of the upcoming public outreach activities the KeTT Team has planned for this spring and summer.