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People at LBC

Jon Wlasiuk
Jon Wlasiuk

Department: HPS
Address: W-26A Holmes
Phone: (517) 353-3940

I am a storyteller. The health of a society depends upon the stories it tells about itself. I believe that students of history and policy makers must consider multiple perspectives and understand what motivated past choices in order to build a better future. The role of the historian should be to use the past as a laboratory of social, political, and cultural experimentation that can inform the present. I structure my courses and research around the significant debates that frame our present: who has power in society; how do categories of identity alter social power; and how does nature structure human history and become altered by human culture?


Refining Nature: Standard Oil and the Limits of Efficiency book image
Refining Nature: Standard Oil and the Limits of Efficiency
The Standard Oil Company emerged out of obscurity in the 1860s to capture 90 percent of the petroleum refining industry in the United States during the Gilded Age. Economic success masked the dark side of efficiency as Standard Oil dumped oil waste into public waterways, filled the urban atmosphere with acrid smoke, and created a consumer safety crisis by selling kerosene below Congressional standards. Organized around the four classical elements at the core of Standard Oil’s success (earth, air, fire, and water), Refining Nature provides an ecological context for the rise of one of the most important corporations in American history.
Pages: 184
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Date Published: October 2017
ISBN-13: 9780822965206