Began teaching at NMU in 2015

Areas of Specialization

Environmental History & Policy, Land Management, Sustainability

  • B.A., Carleton College
  • M.Ed., Harvard University
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison


Research Interests
  • Environmental history, policy & justice
  • Land-use decision-making 
  • Forest management and bioenergy

About Dr. Mittlefehldt

Sarah Mittlefehldt enjoys working with students, colleagues, and community members to develop local solutions to global environmental challenges. As an environmental historian, she is particularly interested in understanding how the past can be used to help inform the future. In 2019, she received funding from the National Science Foundation to work on two different projects that combine spatial analysis with approaches from science and technology studies (STS) and environmental history. The first project examines how wood-burning energy technologies distributed socioecological benefits and burdens throughout the late twentieth century. The second project examines the history of coastal planning and development along Lake Superior’s southern shore. Mittlefehldt is author of Tangled Roots: The Appalachian Trail and American Environmental Politics (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013) and several articles on the history of community-based conservation efforts, energy policy, and land-use decision-making. In addition to her teaching and scholarship, she serves as Co-Chair of Northern Michigan University’s Sustainability Advisory Council and as a member of the City of Marquette’s Planning Commission.

Select Publications
  • S. Mittlefehldt, E. Bunting, E. Huff, J. Welsh, R. Goodwin, “Combining Historical and Spatial Analysis to Assess the Suitability of Wood-Burning Energy Technologies,” Energies, Submission planned for Fall 2021.
  • “Wood Waste and Race: The Industrialization of Biomass Energy Technologies and Environmental Justice,” Technology & Culture 59:4 (October 2018), 875-898.
  • “From Appropriate Technology to the Clean Energy Economy: Renewable Energy and Environmental Politics since the 1970s,” Journal of Environmental Studies and Science 8:2 (June 2018), 212-219.
  • “Seeing Forests as Fuel: Power & Narrative in Public Debates about Biomass Development since 1973,” Energy Research & Social Science 14 (2016), 13–21.
  • (with Codie Tedford) "Benefit or Burden?: Environmental Justice and Community-Scale Biomass Energy Systems in Vermont, USA,” Environmental Justice 7:4 (August 2014), 110-114.
  • Tangled Roots: The Appalachian Trail and American Environmental Politics (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013).
  • (with Tina A. Grotzer), “Students’ Metacognitive Behavior and Ability to Transfer Causal Concepts,” in Anat Zohar & Judy Dori, eds., Metacognition and Science Education (Cambridge, MA: Springer, 2011), 79-99.
  • “The People’s Path: Conflict and Cooperation in the Acquisition of the Appalachian Trail,” Environmental History 15:4 (October 2010), 643-669.
  • “Toxic Waste and Environmental Justice in Warren County, North Carolina,” in Charles V. Willie, Steven P. Rindini, and David A. Willard, eds. Grassroots Social Action: Lessons in People Power Movements (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2008).
  • “Discovering Nature in the Neighborhood: Raymond Zillmer and the Origins of the Ice Age Trail,” in Eric Sherman and Andrew Hanson III, eds., Along Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008).


Dr. Sarah Mittlefehldt

Sarah Mittlefehldt


Office Location:
3005 Weston Hall