When the Lights (and Heat) Went Out in Texas

The Texas Blackout in Historical Context


Texas Lights out postcard

About this Event

Join The University of Houston's Center For Public History for a CPH Lecture Series event about the Texas grid and the recent power failure within the historical context of US national blackouts.

The guest speakers will discuss the February power outage, the proximate causes, and some of the longer-term issues that were at play. They will also address broader historical and cultural issues surrounding blackouts and talk about why questions about our energy and power continue to be so important.

The Guest Speakers

Martin Melosi is an international authority on Environmental, Energy, and Urban history. He is the author of Fresh Kills: A History of Consuming and Discarding in New York City.

Julie A. Cohn researches energy infrastructures and the relationships between government, business, and the public. She is the author of The Grid: Biography of an American Technology.

David E. Nye is Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota. His publications include American Technological Sublime and American Illuminations.

Joseph Stromberg is a Professor of History at San Jacinto College in Houston. His research focuses on environmental history, energy history, and commercial nuclear power in Texas.


Spring 2021 Colloquium



Sigrid Schmalzer, Department of History, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Title: "Connecting the Dots: A History of Systems Thinking in Chinese Agricultural Science and Politics"

Abstract: Chinese agricultural scientists are prominent actors in global movements to promote agroecological engineering and preserve agricultural heritage systems. This presentation will explore the diverse historical roots of the systems paradigm, along with the scientific and political work it accomplishes. The notion that Chinese farmers have traditionally viewed agriculture as an ecological system (expressed most famously in the mulberry dyke / fish pond system of southeastern China) has inspired proponents of agroecology around the world. However, the mapping of such farming practices as systems of efficiently functioning components—along with the more general, transnational phenomenon of systems science—is a quintessentially modern way of thinking rooted in the application of scientific knowledge for the rationalization and control of nature and society. Similar language and diagrams have been used in China since the Mao era to describe agricultural, industrial, and political processes. The overarching principles of integration, efficiency, totality, and harmony emphasized in such schematics may be read as representing environmentalism or industrialism, holism or authoritarianism—or, more productively, some combination thereof. A deeper understanding of the history and current application of systems thinking in Chinese agriculture will help us more clearly identify where it inspires respect for ecological complexity and balance, and where it serves to justify and buttress state power.

Computational Modeling

Featuring speakers from Medtronic and David Odde

  • Ruth Nicholson Klepfer, Medtronic
  • Troy Jackson, Medtronic
  • David Odde, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Join via Zoom


UMN BME-Industry Grand Rounds image

We are delighted to announce the debut of UMN BME-Industry Grand Rounds, a new monthly event series that deepens the connection between the University of Minnesota Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Twin Cities’ thriving health technology industry.

Through these virtual events, local engineers, scientists, faculty, and trainees will share knowledge about critical biomedical engineering topics. Each talk features at least one presenter from our department and one from a local company.

We hope you can join us! We encourage you to keep an eye on the UMN BME-Industry Grand Rounds webpage for upcoming talks, and help spread the word among those within and outside of the University. All are welcome!

A Social History of Machine Learning

A CBI Tomash Virtual Lecture

Join CBI's 2020 - 2021 Tomash Fellow Aaron Mendon-Plasek, History Department, Columbia University presenting his paper on the topic of Social History of Machine Learning.

 Aaron Plasek

This virtual event is free and open to the public. 

Formal paper title, forthcoming.


The Flying Jewish Chaplain & Curt Carlson: The Ultra Entrepreneur - UL First Fridays Online

The event is free. Please make a reservation to receive instructions for connecting via Zoom.

ASC First Fridays online logo

The Flying Jewish Chaplain

Presented by Kate Dietrick, Upper Midwest Jewish Archives

After serving as military chaplain for the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, Rabbi Harold H. Gordon became a Circuit Chaplain for the North Atlantic Division of the Air Transport Command. Learn more about Rabbi Gordon, nicknamed the “Flying Jewish Chaplain,” as he logged over 200,000 miles of flying (at a time when flying was still novel and not without peril) to bring spiritual guidance to members of the Armed Forces.

Curt Carlson: The Ultra Entrepreneur

Presented by Amanda Wick, Processing Archivist, Carlson Companies Corporate Records and Family papers

Curtis L. (Curt) Carlson and his ultra successful businesses are a homegrown Minnesota success story. This talk will delve into the personal and professional life of Mr. Carlson and the incredible social networks that he built and participated in as he rose in prominence.