Category: Notables

Geographer Kat Hannum Latest Dean’s Teaching Showcase Selection

College of Sciences and Arts (CSA) Dean Ravindra Pandey selected Kathryn (Kat) Hannum as the featured instructor this week for the Deans’ Teaching Showcase. Nominated by Department of Social Sciences Chair Don Lafreniere, Hannum will be recognized at an end-of-term event with other showcase members and is a candidate for the CTL Instructional Award Series.

Kathryn Hannum
Kathryn (Kat) Hannum Dean’s Teaching Showcase Selection

An assistant teaching professor of geography, Hannum’s expertise is in migration and nationalism. She recently published a book titled “Nationalism” (Routledge 2023) outlining how this global ideology is one of the dominant political forces in the modern world. Nationalism shapes geographical concepts such as territory, homelands, boundaries, and frontiers.

The World is the Classroom for Dean’s Teaching Showcase Winner

An exceptional scholar in the classroom, Hannum’s conception of “classroom” is very different from most instructors at Michigan Tech. As a geographer, she uses the world as her classroom. Hannum leads numerous study-abroad programs in Mexico and Costa Rica. She supports other programs in Wales and a domestic program where students travel across the United States on Amtrak.

In each of these programs, Hannum engages students to think critically about culture and their roles as global citizens in an increasingly interconnected world. She teaches about the impacts of tourism development and tourism-driven migration on regions, as well as how to promote sustainable tourism while understanding the role such development has on national, regional and Indigenous identities. In the rainforests of Costa Rica and the small Mayan villages of Mexico, she introduces students firsthand to the ways human actions impact the human and natural worlds, highlighting the interconnectivity and complexity of our globalized world.

Hannum believes strongly that when students travel, they can engage with the impact that humans have on the world in a deeply personal way. She employs journaling during her study away programs. Students write daily reflections on the lessons learned. They reflect on how their decisions impact the people and environments experienced on the trip.

She also uses social labs, in which students in the class give back to the communities they are visiting. In Mexico, these labs have included projects that support increasing beachfront access for locals in areas of increased exclusion due to tourism developments. Students examine ways to protect village life and culture, too.

Hannum’s Community and Global Focus Praised

Lafreniere praised the impact of Hannum’s teaching and scholarship. “Dr. Hannum’s focus is on supporting communities,” he said. “As a scholar-teacher, she challenges students not to just be consumers of knowledge, but to take their unique skills and passions to make the communities they visit more sustainable, vibrant places.”

Maria Bergstrom, associate dean for undergraduate education in the CSA, noted the importance of Hannum’s curricular innovations. “Michigan Tech students of all majors have benefited from participating in Dr. Hannum’s global classrooms — gaining a broader perspective and a better understanding of how communities are impacted as new practices and technologies are introduced,” she said. “The study abroad and study away programs developed by Dr. Hannum and others at Michigan Tech have also served as an inspiration for aspects of the new Essential Education program, particularly the Essential Education Experience, which seeks to provide similar community engagement opportunities for all undergraduates. We are grateful for her leadership in developing this type of experiential education at Michigan Tech.”

About the Social Sciences Department at Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech’s Department of Social Sciences offers bachelor of science degrees in AnthropologyPolicy and Community DevelopmentSustainability Science and Society, and Social Science, along with a bachelor of arts degree in History. Our graduate program includes masters and doctoral degrees in Environmental and Energy Policy and Industrial Heritage and Architecture (the only one of its kind in the world), and a master’s in Sustainable Communities. Plus, you can get a graduate certificate in Public Policy in by taking three courses in just one term.

Questions? Contact us at Follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for the latest happenings.

In Media: Mark Rhodes on the Role of Coal in Industrial Heritage and National Identity in Wales

Mark Rhodes
Mark Rhodes

Mark Rhodes, assistant professor of geography was a guest on the Tourism Geographies Podcast last Friday (Nov. 24). The episode centered on a recently published paper co-authored by Rhodes which traces the role of coal in industrial heritage and national identity in Wales over the past 60 years. Discussion topics included the value of historical and contemporary research at heritage sites; how such work can reveal the complexity of identity; and how nations, memories, and our collective heritage change with time, political shifts, and cultural expression.

About the Social Sciences Department at Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech’s Department of Social Sciences offers bachelor of science degrees in AnthropologyPolicy and Community DevelopmentSustainability Science and Society, and Social Science, along with a bachelor of arts degree in History. Our graduate program includes masters and doctoral degrees in Environmental and Energy Policy and Industrial Heritage and Architecture (the only one of its kind in the world), and a master’s in Sustainable Communities. Plus, you can get a graduate certificate in Public Policy in by taking three courses in just one term.

Questions? Contact us at Follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for the latest happenings.

Keweenaw Time Traveler Wins Historical Society of Michigan Best Website Award

The Keweenaw Time Traveler won the Historical Society of Michigan (HSM) 2023 State History Award in the category of Websites. This prestigious award recognizes the hard work of the team led by Don LaFreniere, Sarah Scarlett, and John Arnold. The internet has transformed the world of historical research. The Keweenaw Time Traveler uses spatial data infrastructure to create a website that allows researchers to access detailed information through a “deep map” with layers of historical data and maps. It is also interactive, allowing professionals and amateurs alike to contribute data to the site. The digital archive covers Michigan’s “Copper Country” from 1880 to 1970 and will continue to grow in the future.

Don Lafreniere
Don Lafreniere

“There is so much that goes into a project of this scale and the fact we have been recognized by the Historical Society of Michigan is a testment to every contributor,” said Don Lafreniere, Social Sciences Department chair, professor of geography and GIS, and director of the Geospatial Research Facility. “Our current project team members and our time traveler alumni have contributed thousands of hours in the collection, digitizing and linking historical records that make up our massive database as well as the digitization and referencing of the hundreds of historic maps present on the Keweenaw Time Traveler.”

Sarah Scarlett
Photo: Keweenaw Time Traveler

Lafreniere is thankful for the generous support of project funders including the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Council of Library and Information Resources, as well as support from the Geospatial Research Facility and the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University. “Of course, none of this would be possible without our heritage partners and the thousands of individuals who use the Keweenaw Time Traveler to explore and share memories of our Copper Country past. I thank them so much for their support!”

The Keweenaw Time Traveler team will be recognized during the 149th Annual Meeting and Michigan History Conference on September 22-24, 2023. The Society presents the State History Awards every year to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the appreciation, collection, preservation, and/or promotion of state and local history. The awards are the highest recognition presented by HSM, the state’s official historical society and oldest cultural organization. 

The Historical Society of Michigan is the state’s oldest cultural organization, founded in 1828. A nongovernmental nonprofit, the Society focuses on publications, conferences, education, awards and recognition programming, and support for local history organizations to preserve and promote Michigan’s rich history.

In Print: Dr. Angie Carter

Dr. Angie Carter and her co-author Dr. Rebecca Christoffel have published “Supporting Women Landowners in Wetland Conservation” in Society & Natural Resources. The article analyzes data from a state-wide survey in Iowa and finds that a lack of experience with and misinformation about wetlands, coupled with a lack of access to needed conservation knowledge networks, limits conservation action for women landowners, no matter their age cohort.

In Print

Dr. Hongmei Lu (departmental alum, PhD EEP 2020, now a postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University, Netherlands) and Dr. Angie Carter have published “Emergent regional collaborative governance in rural local food systems development” in Community Development. The paper analyzes emergent regional collaborative governance in the Western UP’s rural food system and is a product of Dr. Carter’s REF award. The article is available open access here.

Summer Field School Draws Together a Broad Range of Collaborators and Students Across Disciplines

Summer Field School includes 8 students from Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan; 3 Instructors; 3 generations of property owners; 6 visiting heritage professionals; 5 great days on the banks of Lake Superior; PLUS a dog and a resident turkey (!) all combined for an exciting place-based learning experience!

What does MTU History Associate Professor of History Sarah Fayen Scarlett get when she takes on leadership of the 2024 Vernacular Architecture Forum (VAF) annual conference planning committee? Well, perhaps a few headaches between now and 2024. But also, several unique opportunities to engage in local fieldwork documenting everyday buildings and their cultural meanings for people in the Keweenaw—past, and present.  She’s sharing the opportunities this responsibility brings with Upper Peninsula students and professionals. Together they’re working on publishing a conference guidebook featuring local vernacular architecture and conference tour sites. Themes include exploring cultural identity, environmental change, industrial communities, and contemporary heritage practice. Scarlett’s “Barns and Beaches” field school gave upper peninsula college students a great applied learning experience.

Image of Summer Field School students documenting Kemppa Farm
NMU student Tori Conquest takes a break from documenting the c. 1907 animal barn at Kemppa Farm in Misery Bay. Photo S F Scarlett

Barns and Beaches Field School Uses the Keweenaw Community As A Classroom

The Summer Field School attracted students in a variety of fields such as history, anthropology, folklore, and material culture studies. The June class included two Michigan Tech Social Sciences majors, an incoming Industrial Heritage & Archaeology grad student, four Northern Michigan University anthropology students, and an MTU graduate student as a teaching assistant. The four-week 3-credit course was team-taught by Scarlett, Keweenaw National Historical Park Historical Architect John Arnold (Industrial Heritage PhD 2017), and Finlandia University Finnish Studies Associate Professor and folklorist Hilary Virtanen. The instructors contributed their expertise in documenting everyday buildings and cultural landscapes. They mentored students in the collection of information from people associated with such places.

The group of eleven formed an instantly cohesive team. Their skills and interests were well-matched for the task at hand: to document and create materials describing a Finnish American homestead farm in the Misery Bay area of Toivola and an adjacent summer cottage built in the 1940s. Both properties had remained in the families that established them.

Students Develop Field Work Skills

Image of Lieutenant Dan the Turkey
Kemppa Farm resident “Lieutenant Dan” the turkey (along with Ruby the little black dog!) kept the crew on their toes around the campsite! Photo Hilary Virtanen.

During the second week, the class met at the Kemppa farm in Misery Bay, Toivola. Students camped in the farm’s front pasture, thanks to the owner and steward of the property’s heritage Luann Hayrynen. This made it convenient for students to document the Kemppa family farm and the neighboring summer cottage, Dell Shack. This intensive fieldwork was augmented by a visit to the Hanka Homestead Farm, a Finnish American homestead farm museum in Baraga County affiliated with the Keweenaw National Historical Park (KNHP) as well as lecture and demonstration visits from area professionals including KNHP staff historian Jo Holt, landscape architect Steve DeLong, Park superintendent Wendy Davis, and MTU’s geospatial scientist Dan Trepal.

Students and instructors precisely measured, photographed, and created field drawings of buildings. They conducted oral history interviews of occupants and their family members to gain insights into the history of the sites’ developments over time and their cultural significance to the families and their neighbors. And they investigated materials offered for examination by the study participants, including family photographs and documents that helped solve building history mysteries. All of this activity generated a vast amount of data. Over the final two weeks, students converted raw data into computer-generated architectural floor plans of each selected building. They deepened their understanding of the properties’ histories with creative research with archival documents, deep geological and cultural historical data, and even aerial and satellite photographs of the Misery Bay area over time.

Read about Robert Hazen’s experience as an undergraduate student in the Summer Field School

Image of a Hay Barn built in 1907
c. 1907 Hay Barn. Photo John Arnold.

Students Present Findings to the Local Community

Students acquired skills in historical architecture documentation and interpretation. They learned to conduct semi-structured oral history interviews. And they wrote interpretive content for use in the 2024 VAF guidebook. The first week centered on intensive readings, lectures, and in-class fieldwork skill-building activities in the Archaeology Lab. One highlight was a virtual visit from Professor Emerita Carol MacLennan on Indigenous land use in the Keweenaw.

During the final week of class, students prepared a group presentation of their findings for local community members at the Misery Bay School. The goals of this culminating event were to spread the word about the upcoming conference and our work at the Kemppa Farm and Dell Shack, but also to have another opportunity to learn more about these properties from people who have their own important perspectives: long-term neighbors. As a result, many stories and memories were shared over refreshments between students, property owners, and neighbors. These relationships will continue to develop as preparation for the VAF conference continues.

For more information about or to participate in the VAF conference in 2024 please contact Dr. Scarlett at