The Kelly Adirondack Center at Union College is committed to research that focuses on the study of the Adirondack Park. The Center encourages scholars, students, researchers, and faculty to utilize the Center’s rich resources to undertake an interdisciplinary approach to studying political, sociological, environmental, economic, and historical issues impacting the Park. Over the next several years, the Center will focus on pursuing an aggressive research agenda with particular attention to the tensions that exist between economic development and the protection and conservation of the blue line. The Center will engage student and faculty fellows to pursue this research agenda.

Dr. Eddie Summers collaborated on all research produced by the Kelly Adirondack Center Summer Research Fellows in 2013 and 2014. 

Elias Springer: “Microfinance and its role in promoting small business development in the Adirondacks”

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Research | Comments Off

While quality of life continues to improve in urban America, there is growing concern that rural America is falling behind, and in harmony with this trend, the continued economic hardships associated with living in the Adirondacks highlight the increased need for tools to promote economic development within the region. While increased access to capital is widely accepted as a necessary improvement in order to create economic development, there are many techniques for increasing this access each with varying levels of success, and the...

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Laura Johnston: “Watershed Management in the Adirondacks”

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Research | Comments Off

Is water a commercial good like running shoes or Coca-Cola? OR, is it a human right, like air? So asks water-activist Maude Barlow (2011) in the documentary, Water on the Table. This conceptual divide of water as a commodity vs. human right determines how we incentivize water conservation. Within the larger environmental discourse, environmental protections are often paired with (or more so justified) by economic incentives. Our assessment of water’s value as a public trust directly affects management strategies of watersheds and groundwater...

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Elias Springer: “Saving rural communities by saving their banks”

Posted by on Jul 26, 2013 in Research | Comments Off

There is an ongoing debate in this country regarding the extent to which national level policy makers should consider the special circumstances and conditions of rural America while making important decisions about the country’s economic future. I would advance that in light of the many banking regulations established as a result of the bailouts paid to what have been called “too-big-to-fail” institutions during the 2008 economic crisis, there needs to be an increase in resources devoted towards adapting current regulations to differentiate...

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Elias Springer: “Bringing the Internet to the Adirondacks: Communities losing touch with their greatest asset”

Posted by on Jul 25, 2013 in Research | Comments Off

Rural America has the benefit of being surrounded by nature, and as infrastructure continues to improve in these rural communities, and more and more households have access to cable and high-speed Internet, there remains a smoldering unease among some who believe this progression may damage residents’ quality of life. The Adirondacks should be front and center of this unease. While it is true that increased infrastructure will further economic development for local communities within the Adirondacks as well as increase quality of life as it...

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Samantha Muratori: “Tourism Threatening Adirondack Solitude”

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Research | Comments Off

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society.” In his epic work “Nature,” he describes solitude as a critical factor in the delicate relationship between man and the wilderness. He and Henry David Thoreau capitalized on this idea along with spiritual renewal during the transcendentalist movement while in the Adirondack region. As time has passed, many have worked to preserve the healing powers of nature within the Adirondacks; however, the importance of jobs and economic...

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Samantha Muratori: “Has Conservation of the Adirondacks Come to a Halt?”

Posted by on Jul 23, 2013 in Research | Comments Off

For the better part of a decade, there has been a movement to re-invigorate and re-imagine Tupper Lake, NY. There is no denying that the Tupper Lake community needs economic revitalization, for without it the town will continue to experience economic decline. One major economic development project that could revitalize Tupper Lake’s economy is the Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR), a proposed mixed-use development project that includes residential and recreational spaces. Despite the need to deal with the economic difficulties that Tupper Lake...

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Laura Johnston: “Land Tenure and Conservation in Adirondack State Park”

Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in Research | Comments Off

The United States is a nexus of watersheds. Five levels of complicated, webbed outlines divide and subdivide land on nested scales, the smallest of which is the Hydrological Unit Code (HUC) – the watershed. From 50 states we arrive at 2,264 watersheds, which presents an incongruous approach to mapping from our dominant one. This presents a problem. As a fluid resource, water transcends national, state, and county lines; watershed management calls for a reorganization of community networks as well as technological development. The West...

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Laura Johnston: “Beyond the Blue Line: Navigating the Population Discourse in the Adirondack State Park”

Posted by on Jul 19, 2013 in Research | Comments Off

I marvel at the power of that thin (and audacious) blue line that slices thru Paul Schaefer’s 3-D, topographical map of the Adirondack State Park. The map, which spans an entire wall of the Kelly Adirondack Center at Union College, isolates the park from New York State at large. This embodies the problematic demographic demagoguery that dominates population discourse within the Blue Line. The Adirondack Park cannot support a traditionally defined, “sustainable”, isolated population. Instead of focusing on dwindling numbers of permanent...

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