Category: Research

Winkler’s Class Focuses on Calumet Art Scene

Calumet ArtStudy: Art Strengthens Community Ties in Calumet

Art has long fostered human connection. Now a Michigan Technological University social sciences professor and her class are examining how art is working as a social glue in Calumet.

Students in Richelle Winkler’s Topics in Rural Community Sustainability class focused on the art scene in Calumet to better understand how the village’s First Fridays art tours benefit the community. On the first Friday of each month, Calumet’s participating art galleries and cafes extend their business hours late into the evening, offering refreshments, artist receptions, demonstrations, menu specials and more, depending on the season.

Read more at Michigan Tech News, by Karina Jousma.

Norman Publishes on Ecocolonisation

Boundary BayEmma S. Norman (SS) recently published an article, “Who’s counting? Spatial politics, ecocolonisation and the politics of calculation in Boundary Bay,” in Area and has been made freely available for a year as part of a Virtual Issue on New geographical frontiers, the theme of this year’s conference ( You can see the Virtual Issue at:

From Tech Today.

Emma Norman Accepted as Writing Fellow

Whiteley CenterEmma S. Norman (SS) has been accepted as a writing fellow to the Helen R. Whiteley Center at Friday Harbor Labs (Washington State) for July-August 2013. She will be working on her book project, “Whose Border, Whose Water? Postcolonial Governance of (Trans)boundary Waters–First Peoples, Canada, and the United States” (Routledge Press, Earthscan Series).

From Tech Today.

Winkler’s class analyzes Calumet’s First Fridays

Students in Richelle Winkler’s Topics in Rural Community Sustainability course (SS 4390) spent the spring semester collaborating with community organizations in Calumet to analyze how First Fridays art tours affect community sustainability.  The project inventoried community assets and assessed how First Fridays contribute to these assets using participation observation, interviews, and surveys of First Fridays participants. The research team surveyed 368 visitors to eight art spaces on First Fridays in February, March, and April of 2013. Study results indicate that First Fridays and the art scene are making broad contributions to community well-being. The program has potential to spur a process of holistic community development; yet there are several opportunities of which First Fridays are not yet fully taking advantage. For instance, social relationships are one of the most important things that First Fridays participants value, and the development of social capital is perhaps the most key contribution of First Fridays.  However, we find that social capital associated with First Fridays remains somewhat narrow as similar people visit the same one or two art spaces each month and interact with one another. These relationships are important, but First Fridays may be missing opportunities to establish new relationships among multiple groups and to integrate younger people and families.  Based on the findings, the team suggests that First Fridays and the art community in Calumet could build on current successes by engaging in a visioning process whereby community members work together to define a vision and goals for the First Fridays program. The process could help to coordinate advertising efforts, build and solidify social relationships, coordinate with external agencies (such as Main Street Calumet, Michigan Tech, or Finlandia), develop leadership, establish a political voice in the community and beyond, and attract more and more diverse visitors.  The community may find that Calumet community members, artists and art space proprietors would benefit from forming a formal Calumet Arts organization that would serve to organize these efforts and coordinate with external groups.

Read the Executive Summary or the First Fridays Calumet Community Report

Team members included:

  • Lorri Oikarinen, Calumet community
  • Heather Hendrickson, senior anthropology major
  • Travis Wakeham, junior anthropology major
  • Ariel Terpstra, MS student in Industrial Archaeology
  • Rhianna Williams, MS student in Environmental and Energy Policy
  • Luke Alvin, MS student in Humanities
  • Heather Simpson, MS student in Cognitive and Learning Sciences
  • Leopoldo Cuspinera, PhD student in Industrial Archaeology
  • Talva Jacobson, PhD student in Industrial Archaeology
  • Richelle Winkler, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Demography, Social Sciences

Research Excellence Funds for Social Sciences

The vice president for research is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Research Excellence Fund Awards, and would like to thank all of the review committee members for participating in this important internal award process.

Emma Norman and Steven Walton received Scholarship and Creativity Grants.

Adam Wellstead received a Research Seed Grant.

Read more at Tech Today.

Cookstove Project in Sustainable Design Expo

Cookstove ProjectMichigan Tech students found a low-cost, highly effective way to reduce the impact of cooking over biomass fires without designing and installing high-tech, costly stoves. They have been invited by the Environmental Protection Agency to take their work to Washington, DC, to participate in the EPA’s annual Sustainable Design Expo. Known as P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet), the competition challenges college and university teams to design and develop sustainable technologies to help protect the world’s health and the environment.

The cookstove project team includes Mark DeYoung and Jonathan May, mechanical engineering; Travis Wakeham, anthropology and biological sciences; and Jarod Maggio, Abram Peterson, Mollie Ruth, Kelli Whelan and Alex Wohlgemuth, environmental engineering. Their faculty advisor is Kurt Paterson, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Read more at Michigan Tech News, by Jennifer Donovan.

CBS Detroit and its Technology Report published an article about Michigan Tech’s two student teams chosen to exhibit in the EPA Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, DC, this week. See EPA Sustainable Design Expo.

From Tech Today.