Saint Martin’s faculty member will travel on Fulbright Scholarship to Finland to study labor group’s roots

July 14, 2014

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LACEY, Wash. – Aaron Goings, Ph.D., an assistant professor of history at Saint Martin’s and a specialist in labor history, will spend the 2014-15 academic year in Finland as a Fulbright Scholar. He will teach and conduct research while he is based at the department of history and ethnology at the University of Jyvaskyla.

The Fulbright Program is the premier international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and those of other countries. Participants for the program, which operates in more than 155 countries worldwide, are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential.

As part of Goings’ studies, he will continue to research Finnish immigrants who settled in the lumber regions of Southwest Washington and along Puget Sound. He plans to concentrate on immigrants of the 1920s and ’30s who were involved in the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.), commonly known as “Wobblies.”

"Finnish Americans were the largest group in several radical movements during the first half of the 20th Century, yet few historians have placed Finns at the center of the history of these movements,” he says.

“My year in Finland will allow me to devote considerable time to study the working lives and labor struggles of Finnish American unionists and radicals, particularly those men and women who settled in Western Washington.

Goings, who was co-valedictorian of the Saint Martin’s University class of 2002, graduated with a degree in political science, earning his master’s degree in history in 2005 from Central Washington University. He completed his doctorate in history in 2011 at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

His interest in labor unions goes back to his roots in his hometown of Aberdeen; his scholarly study of unions, dates to his undergraduate years at Saint Martin’s, where he became the first recipient of the University’s Father Jerome Toner, O.S.B., Award for outstanding contributions to the theory and practice of social justice and labor issues.

Along with fellow labor historian Gary Kaunonen, Goings is co-author of the book, “Community in Conflict: A Working-Class History of the 1913-14 Michigan Copper Strike and the Italian Hall Tragedy,” published in 2013 by Michigan State University Press. They received a State History Award from the Historical Society of Michigan for their scholarly work on the project.

At Saint Martin’s, Goings teaches courses on labor studies, as well as U.S., women’s, world and Latin American history survey courses. This past spring, he team-taught a course entitled “Working Class Literature.” He also is director of the University’s Pacific Northwest Social Action Speaker Series that works to raise awareness of the area’s rich history, especially that of its social justice movements.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For additional information:

Aaron Goings, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of History

Genevieve Canceko Chan
Vice President, Office of Marketing and Communications