Category Archives: Notables

Keweenaw Time Traveler Introduces GIS Technologies to 4th Graders as Part of the KNHP Copper Traces Program

CopperTraces1 CopperTraces2IHA PhD Student Michael Bleddynn and undergraduate students from the Historical Environments Spatial Analytics Lab used the Keweenaw Time Traveler to introduce 4th graders from around the region to how to use GIS technologies to see how communities change through time.  The activity was part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park’s CopperTraces program.


Robins Awarded Research Excellence Fund (REF) Scholarship and Creativity Grant (SCG)

Jonathan RobinsThe Vice President for Research Office announced the 2018 Research Excellence Fund (REF) awards and thanked the volunteer review committees, as well as the deans and department chairs, for their time spent on this important internal research award process.

This year we congratulate Jonathan Robins for receiving a Scholarship and Creativity Grant (SCG).

The REF Scholarship and Creativity Grant (SCG) provides support to encourage faculty to engage in scholarly research, learning, and creative activities to enhance professional development.


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.


Wellstead Article Included in PAR Virtual Issue of Highly-Cited Articles

Adam Wellstead
Adam Wellstead

Adam Wellstead is the co-author of the article, “To Bridge the Divide between Evidence and Policy:  Reduce Ambiguity as Much as Uncertainty” Public Admin Rev, 76: 399-402. doi:10.1111/puar.12555, which has received special recognition from Public Administration Review (PAR) for being a highly-cited article.  The full article is available for a limited time in PAR’s virtual issue of highly-cited articles.

 


Langston Honored by American Society of Environmental Historians

Nancy Langston
Nancy Langston

On March 17, Nancy Langston was awarded the American Society of Environmental Historian’s (ASEH) highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award for 2018. President Graeme Wynn recognized her service to the profession at the annual awards ceremony:

In presenting the award, Wynn cited Langston’s long, varied and vital service to the organization. “Nancy has earned many honors and distinctions, but this award recognizes service to ASEH specifically'” Wynn said.

Langston has been active in the leadership of ASEH for more than 15 years, serving as president from 2007 to 2009, vice president for two years before that and on the Executive Committee from 2003 to 2007.

She edited the journal from 2011 to 2014, and was instrumental in moving the journal to Oxford University Press and establishing the journal web page. She helped negotiate the contract with Oxford, which strengthened ASEH’s financial position.

In addition, she chaired the Outreach Committee (2005-2007) and continues to volunteer for ASEH committees and activities, including the society’s efforts to find and transition to a new executive director.

Langston has contributed significantly to a number of ASEH conferences, chairing the Program Committee for the Victoria conference in 2004 and the Local Arrangements Committee for Madison in 2012. In numerous lectures and editorials, she has drawn academic and public attention to the field of environmental history as a whole.  You can learn more here.



Baird Publishes New Book- “Critical Theory and the Anthropology of Heritage Landscapes”

Baird BookMelissa Baird’s new book, “Critical Theory and the Anthropology of Heritage Landscapes” was published by University Press of Florida.

This book explores the sociopolitical contexts of heritage landscapes and the many issues that emerge when different interest groups attempt to gain control over them. Based on career-spanning case studies undertaken by the author, this book looks at sites with deep indigenous histories. Melissa Baird pays special attention to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the Burrup Peninsula along the Pilbara Coast in Australia, the Altai Mountains of northwestern Mongolia, and Prince William Sound in Alaska. For many communities, landscapes such as these have long been associated with cultural identity and memories of important and difficult events, as well as with political struggles related to nation-state boundaries, sovereignty, and knowledge claims.

Retrieved from http://upf.com/book.asp?id=9780813056562

For more information or to order the book, visit the UPF website.


Project GRACE featured on Copper Country Today

TimetravelerThe GRACE GIS Intern Program was featured this past weekend on Copper Country Today radio show. Don Lafreniere along with two GRACE intern students discussed how local youth are using geospatial technologies to learn about what in their neighborhood impacts their health and well-being. The interns also completed a park quality mapping project for Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) that is now being used for local recreational plan development. The student spend 6 weeks working with faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students in the Geospatial Research Facility.

Click here to listen to the Copper Country Today interview.

Click here to learn more about the GRACE Program.

This project is a partnership between Michigan Tech University, Eastern Michigan University, WUPPDR, and the Keweenaw National Historic Park and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF-ITEST).



Lafreniere Recipient of Innovative or Out of Class Teaching Award

Don Lafreniere
Don Lafreniere

Don Lafreniere, after nomination through the Deans’ Teaching Showcase, has been selected to receive the 2017 Innovative or Out of Class Teaching award from the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). Lafreniere was selected based on his work with forward thinking technologies and his unique approaches to active learning.

Recipients are asked to make a 30-45 minute presentation, sharing the work they are doing that has drawn this recognition. Don will be sharing his work on October 10 at 1:00. Click here to learn more.

Congratulations Don!