Dr. Kathryn Milun

Photo of Kathryn Milun
Professional Title
Associate Professor & Director, Center for Social Research

Research, Publications, Teaching

Dr. Milun is a community-engaged scholar, writer, energy democracy advocate and community solar activist whose work has long been rooted in the emerging field of investigation into governance models for common property/ “commons”--gifts of nature (air, water, wildlife, food) and community that are governed for the common good through tools of public trust and community trust law.  She founded and directs the Solar Commons Research Project which innovates and prototypes community trust ownership of solar energy for low-income communities.  As a research social scientist based in the  Anthropology Program at the University of Minnesota Duluth, she teaches courses on the anthropology of energy, the New Commons, the anthropology of law and social theory and interacts with faculty and students engaged in research on ecological and social justice.  She is a former fellow of the Tomales Bay Institute & On the Commons which focus on commons strategy-building.   Currently, she is a fellow at the Institute on the Environment (UMTC) and an Affiliated Faculty member of the University of Minnesota Law School.  For her work on the Solar Commons project, Milun has been honored with a US Green Building Council Legacy Project Award. 

Dr. Milun has published two academic books: Pathologies of Modern Space (2006 Routledge)--a cultural history of the modern urban commons; and The Political Uncommons: The Cross-Cultural Logic of the Global Commons (2011 Routledge)--a study of the global commons in international law and the legal challenges presented by indigenous communities.  Her current book manuscript on the Solar Commons Project is for a general audience.  It is a work of public anthropology based on her community-engaged legal scholarship designing and prototyping community trust solar ownership for low-income communities in the US.  Dr. Milun collaborates with public artists to create more accessible ways of presenting complex legal and technical issues involving renewable energy, common property ownership, climate change mitigation, social equity and community empowerment.  Students from Dr. Milun’s Energy, Culture, Society course (Anth3300) run the annual Duluth Power Dialog, a public forum that takes students’ research on local energy democracy issues to create a series of questions for local government officials and energy transformation agents to discuss in downtown Duluth every spring.