Category Archives: Research

Francophone Migration

Line drawing map of a cityUnderstanding how French-speaking people migrated throughout North America from the 1600s to 1940 means tracking them at work, school and home spatially and archivally.

Michigan Technological University is a partner in the $2.4 million “Trois siècles de migrations francophones en Amérique du Nord (1640-1940) (Three centuries of migrations by French-speakers to North America)” funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Sarah Scarlett, assistant professor of history, and Don Lafrenière, associate professor of geography, in the Social Sciences department, will use the Keweenaw Time Traveler and a combination of spatial and archival datasets to focus specifically on whether French-Canadians were socially mobile as they migrated from Canada to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during the period of 1860 to 1940.

Read the full story on Unscripted.


Hazards Mapping, History and the Future of Rust Belt Cities

Line drawing of a city layout from aboveMichigan Technological University researchers have developed a GIS-based model to identify the persistence of industrial hazards in postindustrial cities and their impacts on modern citizens. Dan Trepal, a postdoctoral researcher and Don Lafrenière, associate professor of geography and GIS, both in the Department of Social Sciences, use spatial-temporal models to demonstrate human risk of exposure to environmental hazards in postindustrial London, Ontario, but the model can be applied more widely.

“When you’re talking about human health or cumulative hazards, these places looked very different when these places are created. In the Keweenaw, the mines aren’t really gone They’re very much still here. It’s about giving presence to things that are not here anymore to the casual eye.” – Dan Trepal

Read the full story at mtu.edu/news.


Notables: West Point Foundry

Arron KotlenskyThe West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, NY, the site of an intensive industrial heritage and archaeology (IHA) project by Michigan Tech faculty and grad students from 2002-2009, was designated an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Historical Mechanical Engineering Landmark on Oct. 5.

One of the largest integrated iron foundries and machine shops in the first half of the 19th century, the West Point Foundry is also one of the most intact industrial archaeological sites of its type in America.

The Tech IHA investigations helped lead to the designation. Arron Kotlensky (M.S. IHA 2007) wrote the nomination on behalf of Scenic Hudson, the property owners, and he and Steven Walton (SS) were at the designation ceremony to lead tours for the president of ASME, local historical society board members, the press and the interested public.

The story received coverage in the Cold Spring mediaFoundry Management and Technology and by the ASME.

Walton and Kotlensky also designed the brochure for the event.



In Print

Shan ZhouShan Zhou (Social Sciences) recently published “Environmental Justice and Green Schools—Assessing Students and Communities’ Access to Green Schools” in the journal Social Science Quarterly. This article investigates equity in the distribution of green schools in the U.S., what kind of student populations they serve, and what kind of communities host them. Leveraging national school enrollment data (2000–2014), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) data, and communities’ characteristics data from 2010 U.S. Census, Shan Zhou and coauthors estimate logit models to examine the association between green schools and student and community demographics. Results show that higher percentages of minorities in both student population and hosting neighborhood are associated with greater likelihood that new schools are green, and that new schools in more affluent and less educated communities are less likely to be green.


Digital Tools to Rebuild History

Hands on keyboardAn architectural historian advocates for more building documentation following Notre Dame.

Following the fire in Paris, more attention is focusing on the new technologies that will help people rebuild damaged or lost buildings. Sarah Fayen Scarlett, assistant professor of history at Michigan Technological University, says that an uncommon loss like Notre Dame reflects a universal need for documenting historical buildings.

Read more the full story on Michigan Tech News


Torch Lake Public Action Council Hosts Statewide Meeting at Michigan Tech July 16 and 17

The Torch Lake Area of Concern Public Action Council (TLPAC) will host the Statewide Public Advisory Council (SPAC) meeting in Houghton, Michigan on July 16 and 17, 2019 at Michigan Technological University’s Great Lakes Research Center in Room 202. Sessions are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. both days. In addition, there will be a tour of Torch Lake on July 16 after the end of the morning session. The Office of Great Lakes (OGL) staff who assist the SPAC will be in attendance to update the Council on Michigan and federal actions which affect the progress of cleanups in the Great Lakes.

Areas of Concern (AOCs) are highly polluted sites on bodies of water that pose a danger to their communities. There were originally fourteen AOCs in Michigan. The pollution problems of AOCs are specifically identified as Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) for each AOC. The role of a public advisory council is to identify the problems, do community outreach and develop a network of government and non-governmental groups to address the concerns of their communities. Torch Lake has recently been active in seeking solutions to the stamp sands dumped into the lake by former mining companies which have made it difficult to have healthy benthos, or aquatic life, due to the spread of sands throughout the bottom of the lake. New efforts are underway to revive Torch Lake’s benthos that could lead to a major clean up within the next decade. Along with the work being done by the state’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Remediation Division to remove toxic chemicals along the west shore of Torch Lake, funding is being sought from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to find ways to repair the damage created by copper mining companies since the latter part of the nineteenth century.

The public is invited to the SPAC meeting on both days to hear about progress being made by the advisory councils in the entire state. The OGL and the Great Lakes Commission will update council members on state, federal and international activities. Research currently being conducted at the University of Michigan and Michigan Technological University will also inform council members of effective ways to engage their communities. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community will have its President, Chris Swartz, explain the importance of Torch Lake to their community under their treaty rights and the work they have done to improve water quality on their reservation. SPAC meetings are an opportunity for members to network and to find out not only what concerns an AOC has, but also to see the host community and its attractions.

For information, contact Horst Schmidt, Vice-Chair of the SPAC at horsthear@yahoo.com or 906-369-3797.

by Kelley Christensen (Social Sciences)


Lu and Sidortsov Publish on a Co-Production Approach to Household Waste Management in Shanghai, China

Hongmei Lu
Roman Sidortsov

The article, Sorting out a problem:  A co-production approach to household waste management in Shanghai, China, published in Waste Management journal and co-authored by Hongmei Lu and Roman Sidortsov explores an innovative approach to waste management in Shanghai.

Rapid urban population growth in China has resulted in significant challenges for Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management. To combat these challenges, Chinese authorities implemented a pilot program of MSW sorting in eight Chinese cities including Shanghai in 2000 but is yet to reach a widespread success. This paper uses a qualitative case-study approach to explore the potential of a community-based co-production strategy for household waste sorting as an alternative to the conventional top-down approach. Co-production implies the involvement of citizens, consumers, volunteers and/or community organizations in producing public service. We find two major drivers of the government-volunteer consortium and the peer-pressure effect help realize the potential of waste-management co-production at a lowered cost with improved efficiency and collaborative innovation. In addition, context-specific conditions including policy consistency, strong volunteer effort and compatibility with local culture to promote public participation must be present for further co-production application. We also acknowledge that the co-production approach would be most effective at the initial stage of policy implementation to foster the waste-sorting habit-formation in regions where the waste collection rates remain low.