Blog Contributor: Lydia Collas
Master of Sustainability 2017 Student Cohort, September 2017
March 9th saw students in their first year of the Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS) program present preliminary proposals of the research that they will undertake in the coming months. Being in my second year of the program, I delighted in the opportunity to sit back and watch others undergo what I myself had done a year earlier. The ten students did not disappoint as they spoke with passion and excitement of the research questions they hope to answer.
Sustainability is an interdisciplinary subject by nature: it brings together aspects from natural science, social science and economics. This was very much reflected in the students’ presentations which covered a vast portion of what can be considered sustainability science. No two students plan to study even remotely similar areas. Lyn Brown presented her plans to investigate invasive species – a major biological and financial issue – in the Niagara Region. Contrast that to Qurat Shahzad whose interest lies in the concept of a de-growth economy and presented her plans to investigate the factors driving consumer behavior across Canada.
The students’ research was also impressively broad in terms of the geographical area covered. Sylvia Hussein plans to investigate water management in Lake Erie and identify the lessons learned which would help in the management of water resources in her own country, Ghana. Other students are looking closer to home: Leaya Amey plans to conduct her study right in Brock University. Leaya will build on her undergraduate degree in Communications Studies exploring the most effective way to inform Brock University students about sustainability initiatives on campus.
One of the great strengths of the SSAS program is the variety of programs that students have studied at undergraduate level. This diversity allows students to learn from one another as they each hold their own unique knowledge and skill set. The questions asked by other students, as well as faculty, following the students’ presentations will hopefully have helped them to clarify their thoughts or identify alternative approaches to investigating their research questions.
All students can be highly commended for their ambition and drive to push the bounds on what is known in sustainability science. Director of the SSAS program, Francine McCarthy, was somewhat lost for words as she spoke after the presentations, Francine said “I feel somewhat like a proud mum today, you’ve all come so far from where you started in September and I could not be more proud.”
I too would like to add my congratulations to the students and I wish you all well as you set out to conduct this research. My one piece of advice, as a student one year down the line, is to think about scope. The time is going to fly. Think long and hard about whether you’ve got the time to do what you’re aiming to achieve. And then go for it – I can’t wait to hear about what you find!