Environmental Sustainability Research Centre
The purpose of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) (formerly known as Brock Environmental Sustainability Research Unit or BESRU) is to pursue innovative and interdisciplinary research concerning the environment, sustainability and social-ecological resilience. Social and ecological systems are coupled in this integrative perspective and considered as a social-ecological system. Sustainability is re-cast and understood as an evolutionary or transition process, rather than an end point. Meeting the challenges posed by this shift in emphasis requires strategies which are fundamentally different than the ‘command and control’ approaches stressed in the 20th century as well as new academic approaches. Sustainability science, similar to health science, is a field that aims to facilitate the “transition towards sustainability” and is “…defined by the problems it addresses rather than by the disciplines it employs” (Clark, 2007, 1737).
Within this overarching frame,
BESRU was initially positioned as a Research Unit within the Department of Tourism and Environment (TREN). In working towards its goal and objectives, the motivation for ESRC is to enrich Brock’s research culture and foster innovative opportunities in several specific ways. ESRC will provide an innovative institutional arrangement in response to environmental challenges at local through international scales. ESRC will strengthen existing networks and pursue novel research partnerships around pressing environmental problems. It will also act as a platform to connect researchers within the Faculty of Social Sciences and across Brock University with an interest in the environment. It is the explicit intention of ESRC to cultivate positive collaborative research initiatives both within the Faculty of Social Sciences and with researchers in other Faculties at Brock.
Consistent with the sustainability science approach and in line with initiatives internationally, the scope of ESRC is initially defined by the types of problems it seeks to address. Examples include: water resources innovation and resilience; environmental governance and social-ecological systems; social justice, First Nations adaptation. ESRC will also act as a hub to connect government agencies, non-governmental organizations, other academic institutions and research institutes. Developing expertise and cultivating networks is critical to applying for research funding and training students. The environment is a major focus for granting agencies (e.g., IDRC, SSHRC, NSERC, NCE, Canadian Water Network, the Gordon Foundation), corporate Canada (e.g., Royal Bank of Canada, Canada Trust), and government (e.g., Ontario's Green Energy and Water Opportunities Act). Past experience shows that established research teams and mobilized networks with international partners have had more success in recent grant competitions than teams formed after competitions have been announced. ESRC is a vehicle to cultivate these relationships so that networks can be effectively and efficiently mobilized to pursue routine and strategic calls for research.