Q&A with Teaching Award Winner Melissa Baird

Melissa Baird is the recipient of Michigan Tech’s 2021 Distinguished Teaching Award
in the Affiliate Professor/Professor group.

Melissa Baird is an associate professor of anthropology in the Office of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological College. A graduate of the College of California, Berkeley, she acquired her master’s and
doctorate at the College of Oregon. Her investigation has concentrated on the politics of
heritage inside the extractive zone, such as mining or liquefied all-natural gas assignments
and protest websites. She is also the recent president of the Affiliation of Important Heritage Scientific tests.

“Dr. Baird is a fantastic example of the teacher scholar. She is a distinguished anthropologist
and president of her discipline’s countrywide group, however she is also passionate
about her training and a great advocate for involving undergraduates in investigation.
Michigan Tech is fortunate to have her on the faculty!”David Hemmer, dean of the School of Sciences and Arts

Mike Hyslop is the recipient of Michigan Tech’s 2021 Distinguished Teaching Award
in the Lecturer/Professor of Apply/Assistant Professor group.

Q: What do you do in your get the job done?

MB: My get the job done considering that 2011 has concentrated on the extractive zone — the put where by industries,
communities and ecologies converge. I am intrigued in how these advanced and quick-going
spaces connect with heritage. What get the job done does heritage do? I use the phrase heritage get the job done to refer to how heritage is taken up
to encourage or protect claims.

For example, in my get the job done in the resource frontiers of Western Australia, I discovered that
industries mobilized the language of heritage, Indigenous legal rights and sustainability
in their corporate strategies. But, in their promotion of heritage, contested histories
and contemporary problems are introduced as settled.

I established heritage get the job done and the extractive zone inside the exact same frame to see how heritage
is enacted and brokered by distinctive actors — the corporation, the condition, communities
or activists. No matter if it is communities occupying protest camps or researchers mobilizing
the policy process, in each individual circumstance, the get the job done of heritage is discovered: It is taken up
to make claims, obtain legitimacy and condition policy.

Distinguished Teaching Award

Since 1982, the yearly Michigan Tech Distinguished Teaching Award has been awarded in two types: Affiliate Professor/Professor and Lecturer/Professor
of Apply/Assistant Professor. The award nomination and evaluate procedures are scholar-driven
finalists are selected based mostly on scholar scores regarding quality of instruction.
Winners get $two,500 and a plaque at an awards dinner sponsored by the Workplace of
the President in the tumble.

To do this, to render heritage get the job done obvious, I use corporate experiences, general public information,
ethnography (interviews and participant observation of protests, for example) and
general public history requests to investigate the distinct techniques that heritage constructs,
racializes or innovations extractive assignments.

For example, I job interview vitality scientists, company researchers, engineers, protestors
and activists, NGOs (nongovernmental businesses) and tribal associates. Just about every
has a distinctive concept and comprehension of the extractive zone.

Using a forensic solution supplies a way to attract on my archaeological instruction to
floor reality the archaeological and cultural resource experiences. I have discovered that these
experiences often understate the great importance of cultural assets or neglect important
oral historic or archaeological facts. Over all, I am intrigued in finding my way
into the advanced transnational assignments and their impacts on area communities.

It is a way to mix general public engagement, social justice activism and praxis — the
area in between theories and practice. And, I am also portion of an NSF (Countrywide Science
Foundation)-sponsored venture and multidisciplinary crew operating to realize toxic contamination in the Lake Exceptional basin.

Q: Why do you care?

MB: Extractive zones are complex and quick-going areas. This sort of areas are ephemeral
(believe boom and bust cities) but also surprisingly strong (believe toxic waste). Heritage is portion of this conversation. I have discovered that frontline communities often use heritage to mediate the improvement
rush and its impacts. And, firms are increasingly acquiring a corporate heritage
discourse that positions themselves as crucial knowledge turbines, restricting the discursive
area and limiting discussion boards for discussion. For Indigenous or area communities, this
has resulted in their heritage currently being introduced in ahistorical and apolitical techniques,
contested pasts and presents, land legal rights or treaties claims and environmental contexts
introduced as settled.

Q: Why do other people care? Who positive aspects from your get the job done?

MB: For communities of link — Indigenous, frontline and area communities —
connecting investigation to their recent concerns is a single way to be engaged and it connects
activism and scholarship. It is essential to believe about how our get the job done connects (or
not) and how to reframe contemporary discussions about significant heritage and justice.

Q: Are there distinct training methods/variations/philosophies that make you effective? 

MB: My lessons crosscut common disciplinary boundaries. I try to current substance
that difficulties students to develop their worldview and develop significant perspectives
of social and political problems — to move outside of their ease and comfort zones and to categorical
their suggestions thoughtfully and evidently.

Q: What do you believe would make for a effective learning expertise?

MB: I see the classroom as a area to create knowledge collectively. I try to deliver
students with the area and applications to foster open up discussions about the globe about
them. I current prospects to study independently and to develop their voices via
significant analysis and contemplation.

I want students to face the substance for themselves and not count only on my interpretations
or criticisms. One solution I have discovered effective is to use circumstance research. Case research
have interaction students to develop difficulty-solving and selection-building competencies. I ask students
to examine the problems, evaluate stakeholders and suggest remedies — to delve into
their positions, tease out their contradictions and assumptions, and believe about what
the substance indicates to them.

For example, a single could use a circumstance examine on the mining catastrophe in Mount Polley, British
Columbia, or the firestorm in Paradise, California. Learners would be questioned to examine
primary and secondary facts, educational content, media and websites, and critique how
problems are framed. Wherever are the men and women? Who is impacted? How is this event framed?

“Learners develop knowledge about stakeholders, evaluate facts and discussion the distinctive
positions — competencies they require to thrive as world citizens. This solution also supplies
an option to reflect and design how to converse about controversial topics and converse
to each individual other, not at each individual other.”Melissa Baird

And it is not that these discussions are uncomplicated — and even I can get flustered. But
I believe it is essential for students to see that I am learning too. For the reason that that is
where by the learning is: where by we enable go of what we believe we know and open up up to other
perspectives and opportunities.

Q: Who (or what) inspired you to turn out to be a teacher?

MB: I see myself as portion of a lineage that incorporates my family, academics and students,
and close friends — all those who took the time to mentor and instruct, to deliver a sort (or agency)
word at a specific time, and to decide on me up and brush me off when I fell or dropped
my way.

The Quincy mine headframe with a cloudy, sunset sky in the background.
Baird’s get the job done focuses on heritage in extraction websites. The Quincy Mine in Hancock,
Michigan, is a area internet site where by mining and heritage are now intermingled.

My mentor Meg Conkey at the College of California, Berkeley, was a single of these men and women.
She was really inspiring in the classroom, where by she inspired creative imagination and excellence.
Meg noticed one thing in me that I did not see — and she gave her time and energies to
guarantee me that, as a very first-era and reentry scholar, I experienced a correct to be there.
That my voice mattered. I like to believe that what she taught me and modeled is current
in the classroom today.

Q: What prospects does this award open up up for you?

MB: I see this award as a recognition of all the important get the job done of so numerous individuals across
campus. I believe about my colleagues who give so much of themselves.

I am thrilled to be operating on a new venture with Dean (of the Graduate University) Will
Cantrell and Dr. Kat Hannum to develop mentoring pathways and grant prospects
for beneath-resourced students. I am also operating with my section on a new graduate
mentoring option — MEG: Mentoring Experiences for Graduates Learners — to deliver
cross-generational mentoring prospects. And I am in the extremely early levels of a
ebook venture on larger education and learning that seeks to envision new techniques to change assets
to align with this moment.

Q: What are the difficulties you face?

MB: I believe we have a collective obstacle. We are in a tumultuous moment — and we
are all, in some way, having difficulties to make perception. Education is a resource of transformation
and transgression. Our students are looking to us to enable them have the discussions
and applications necessary to meet up with this moment. I am satisfied to see some changes and very good get the job done
likely on across campus (for example, the Progress Initiative), but I believe we have a whole lot additional to do.

Our get the job done is to believe via distinct techniques to assist students and to believe about
new techniques to use our assets — to guarantee obtain and fairness in larger education and learning and
to create a varied and shared area of intellectual inquiry.

Michigan Technological College is a general public investigation university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is household to additional than seven,000 students from fifty five nations about the globe. Continually ranked amid the very best universities in the nation for return on financial commitment, the College features additional than one hundred twenty five undergraduate and graduate degree applications in science and engineering, engineering, computing, forestry, business enterprise and economics, well being professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is positioned just miles from Lake Exceptional in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, offering calendar year-spherical prospects for outside journey.