Articles by author: Erin Daly

  • Meet the Post-Docs: Janani Sivarajah

    Janani Sivarajah

    Dr. Janani Sivarajah joined the ESRC in July as a post-doctoral fellow with the Prudhommes Project working with Dr. Ryan Plummer. Janani’s transdisciplinary research explores the ecosystem services of urban trees and public green spaces, and finds greening solutions to improve the socio-ecological resilience of cities.

    What are your research areas of focus, and what was your journey like in getting to that area of focus?

    My research focus is based on urban ecology and finding greening solutions to improve the socio-ecological resilience of cities. I am particularly interested in building multifunctional landscapes and proposing nature-based solutions to global environmental and urban challenges. My journey here is a long road.  I started in Forestry and completed my Master of Forest Conservation at UofT and then went on to do a Ph.D. in Forestry at UofT.  My Ph. D. dissertation paved my way into transdisciplinary research to understand urban trees’ environmental services for human well-being.  While completing my Ph.D., I worked in non-profits and urban forest consulting, and these experiences further shaped my research focus. 

    As a sustainability scientist, how do you view the world?

    As a sustainability scientist, I believe we have a unique ability to use a transdisciplinary lens to see the future and find solutions to evolving and challenging problems.  We also have a responsibility to communicate science with the broader community and work together with other stakeholders to solve problems.

    What excites you the most about working with the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre?

    The most exciting aspect is the people at ESRC.  Even during unprecedented times, I felt welcomed and greeted warmly by all faculty and staff. I am excited to build friendships, foster a supportive environment, and collaborate on exciting projects. They are all superstars in their fields, and I’m eager to learn from their expertise and share my experiences.

    Categories: Applied Research, Blog, Innovative Partnership

  • Meet the Post-Docs: Jennifer Holzer

    Dr. Jennifer Holzer joined the ESRC in February 2020 as a post-doctoral fellow in the Water Resilience Lab working with Dr. Julia Baird and has recently been appointed as an Adjunct Professor in the ESRC. Jen’s doctoral work evaluated the research-implementation gap in social-ecological research in Europe using case studies in Spain, Scotland, and Romania, and provided recommendations that fed directly into enhancing European research infrastructures.

    What are your research areas of focus, and what was your journey like in getting to that area of focus?

     In my current position, I am developing the following areas of focus:

    • Developing and applying a decision support framework for ecosystem services governance at the landscape level
    • Designing effective participatory processes for environmental governance
    • Using social network analysis to understand knowledge flows, decision-making processes, and power dynamics of environmental governance
    • Using agent-based modeling to uncover links between attitudes about resilience and pro-environmental behaviors
    • Developing a tool to assess ‘sense of place’ globally

    My previous (and ongoing) research focused on:

    • Evaluation of transdisciplinary environmental research
    • Bridging the gap between environmental / sustainability science and policy
    • Integration of social sciences with natural science research

    It’s been a winding road from being a teenage environmental activist to where I am today. After some years as an environmental project manager, I returned to academia for a PhD that I hoped would bring me closer to conservation. As a project manager, I had become focused on energy efficiency, which is a crucial aspect of climate work, but I wanted my focus to be closer to the natural world.

    My PhD project was linked to a four-year EU grant to audit social-ecological research platforms in Europe. So the project was an interesting confluence of social ecology, conservation, sustainability, and science and technology studies. I had the opportunity to work with scientists from the European Long-Term Ecological Research network, and to be hosted by some of these colleagues for field research in Europe. It was fascinating, and I was hooked! I also learned a lot about what it means to manage an international environmental research network, so when the opportunity came up to work within a similar research network in Canada (ResNet) – in its startup phase — I jumped at the opportunity.

    As a sustainability scientist, how do you view the world?

     Everything is connected. A person’s mood or outlook can influence whether they decide to spend time in nature, and whether they spend time in nature can influence whether they want to help protect nature. Also, I’m a book person and I love learning for the sake of learning, but it’s important to me that what we learn be applied in the real world. The gap between science and practice is a deep concern, especially in these strange times where there is a strong anti-science movement.

    I also worry about whether taking care of the environment is a luxury. We are human first, paying bills, taking care of our families, and safety and security will always come first. Sometimes I lament that as long as we don’t feel completely reliant upon and intertwined with the natural world, we’ll never be able to prioritize taking care of it.

    Perhaps most importantly, I think optimism is a prerequisite to being a sustainability scientist. The bad news about environmental degradation and predictions about the future can be overwhelming. So, there is a moral aspect to a sustainability view of the world. I do believe that we, as humans, are obligated to care for our planet, both as a collective and as individuals. What this looks like is going to be different for everyone, depending on where and how you live and the resources available to you.

    What excites you the most about working with the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock University?

    I am excited about working in a context where ideas like sustainability and resilience are the starting point! And I’m excited about working with such great people — both in terms of their scholarship and being enjoyable to work with. Everyone seems to have their own quirky sense of humor!

    This is my first time working at a dedicated centre for environmental sustainability, so there are built-in applications to our research. The ESRC has made great efforts to build partnerships with local governments and environmental organizations. I’m looking forward to having results from my first studies and figuring out if we can take it a step further and find a way to apply our findings in the real world. Finally, it’s fascinating for me to work in Canada. From an environmental perspective, the Middle East (where I did my PhD) is a place of scarcity when it comes to water and other key natural resources, and Canada is so rich in natural resources that it’s bound to imbue me with quite a different perspective.

     

     

    Categories: Applied Research, Blog, Faculty Contributor

  • Congratulations to our Spring 2020 Graduates!

    The ESRC is very proud to announce that three students have officially completed the SSAS program and are graduating on June 19th, 2020. Jocelyn Baker, Qurat Shahzad, and Connor Thompson have all worked exceedingly hard throughout their time in the program, and we are so proud to have been a part of each of their academic journeys.

    Jocelyn Baker joined the SSAS program in 2018 and brought with her a number of previous degrees and certifications, including a BA in Geography and Fine Art (Guelph University), a certificate in Terrain and Water Resources (Sir Sanford Fleming College), and a certified Project Management Professional. Jocelyn’s research was supervised by Dr. Liette Vasseur and investigated Management in Canadian Ramsar sites and sustainability through adaptive governance. Jocelyn’s interest in Canadian Ramsar sites was also reflected in her co-op placement, where she worked as a Project Manager, Niagara River Ramsar Designation for the Niagara Restoration Council.

    Qurat Shahzad travelled to St. Catharines all the way from Dubai, UAE to join the SSAS program in 2017. Her research was supervised by Dr. Marcel Oestreich and built on the knowledge she had through her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from the American University of Sharjah, UAE. Qurat’s final research investigated the dynamics between the current economic system and sustainability goals.

    Connor Thompson joined the SSAS program in 2018 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (Western University). His research interests aligned with those of Dr. Todd Green, who supervised Connor’s MRP research about the attitude/behaviour gap in low-impact housing development. In addition to his work on his MRP research project and as a research assistant on the ESRC’s Charter with Facilities Management partnership, Connor spent his co-op placement working as an Educator with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

    In addition to these three SSAS graduates, we would also like to congratulate our 10 undergraduate students who have completed the Minor in Sustainability. All 13 of our graduates have worked extremely hard to reach this important academic milestone, and we hope you’ll join us in expressing our heartfelt congratulations!

    Categories: Blog, Minor in Sustainability, SSAS Program

  • Student Research Highlight: Transdisciplinary Research in Action

    Blog Contributor: Bridget McGlynn

    Bridget McGlynn

    Sustainability science has three defining characteristics: it recognizes the interconnectedness of human and ecological systems, it asks solution-oriented questions, and uses a transdisciplinary approach. In reflecting on my research, I must say it is an absolute joy and a privilege to be a master’s student in a research centre that emphasis all three components of sustainability science, as it has allowed me to directly engage with all aspects for my thesis research 

    I am a student in the Advancing Environmental Stewardship research group working under the supervision of Dr. Ryan Plummer and Dr. Julia Baird and my thesis research is embedded in the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience to address climate change resilience and governance in the St. John River watershed in New Brunswick. My portion of the project is investigating the current collaborative governance arrangement at two geographic scales with the goal of forwarding system understanding and flood governance in the region. Since I began working within this research project, the entire process has been transdisciplinary. From Brock researchers attending flooding resilience and climate workshops in the St John River watershed to our WWF partners joining the discussion for my proposal presentation, joint goals have been prioritized.  

    As a master’s student preparing a thesis, there is an expectation my research will address a gap in the academic literature, and this gap provides the academic rationale and guides the research questions for the project. During my proposal presentation, I was asked to describe the tangible and practical contributions of my project. My response to this question was based within my perspective that after months of literature review and proposal writing has been heavily fixated on that research gap. While I spoke to the tangible outcomes and value of the proposed data collection, I only articulated a fraction of the value of the project. Following my response, our WWF partners elaborated and described how the entire research process, not only the end data collected or workshop, is providing great value to their colleagues. Simon Mitchell’s description of why this project is important on various levels reaffirmed the usefulness and importance of good sustainability science. Having the opportunity to participate in transdisciplinary research projects as a student is an invaluable experience that has already provided many lessons and I imagine will provide many more before I finish. 

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor, Student Contributor

  • New Research from Master of Sustainability Alumni

    For Leaya Amey (above, R) and Alison Feist (L) (Master of Sustainability Class of 2019), publishing their research is an exciting way for them to integrate the knowledge they gained in the SSAS program with their professional careers in the field of sustainability science.

    Amey, who completed the program in December 2018 and graduated in June 2019, has been working for Maple Leaf Foods as a Sustainability Specialist after reaching out to a connection through LinkedIn. She credits the Master of Sustainability program for providing “a necessary foundation of knowledge regarding sustainability-related concepts and practices”. Amey is also thankful for the exposure she received through the program to how Brock University communicates and practices sustainability; “I was interested in how universities (or entities in general) were planning and strategizing for sustainable development now and in the future”.

    This interest is reflected in a recently published article that was co-written by Amey and her former SSAS co-supervisors Drs. Ryan Plummer and Gary Pickering. The study, according to Amey, “sought to better understand online communications related to sustainability by Canadian universities. Specifically, how many Canadian universities communicate about sustainability online, what types of features are offered on Canadian universities sustainability websites to engage users in sustainability-related topics, how many Canadian universities have a downloadable sustainability plan and what are the quality of those plans”. The study found that while 67% of Canadian universities communicate sustainability on their websites, only 22% have a downloadable sustainability plan, and that these plans range in quality. These findings are important because, as Amey explains, “[they] assist with understanding how higher education institutions (HEIs) can enhance sustainability communication via websites and sustainability plans.

    Coincidentally, Amey’s fellow Class of 2019 member Alison Feist is also interested in sustainability as it applies to higher education institutions. Feist currently works as the Mission Zero Coordinator for Sheridan College, which focuses on sustainability and engagement in an institutional setting. In addition to her work at Sheridan, Feist has also had the opportunity to contribute a case story from her thesis research in the Master of Sustainability program to the Atlantic Chapter of Canada’s National Climate Change Assessment.

    Feist’s research, co-authored by Drs. Ryan Plummer and Julia Baird, and Simon J. Mitchell, explored how collaboration works in climate change adaptation in New Brunswick to understand how people come together to work towards/implement solutions in a climate adaptation context. Specifically, said Feist, “exploring qualities in the collaborative process (i.e.  attributes of how people interact together like learning, or building trust), outcomes, and how these are brought about in the process was of interest”. Feist explained that the findings of this study “[identified] important themes around how these [qualities and outcomes] came about- which were centered around learning and becoming educated about climate risks and acting on this together as people recognized and began to understand the need for adaptation action. These findings provided some insight into the importance of certain qualities and outcomes to the complex process of collaboration, and it can help collaborative groups understand group dynamics as they work in climate adaptation settings.”

    Like Amey, Feist credits the Master of Sustainability program at Brock with teaching some of the important concepts needed for her research, “Collaboration is an important concept which is found in many sustainability topics, and it is also something that I did many, many times while working with a research team (and in class settings) during my time in the program!”.

    Dr. Ryan Plummer, ESRC Director and former supervisor for both Amey and Feist, is extremely proud of this accomplishment by his former students. “Publication of their manuscripts in international journals following rigorous peer review is a testament to the high quality of their research and their contributions to scholarship”, said Plummer. Plummer believes that the research published by Amey and Feist demonstrates their intellectual capacity and tenacity. It reflects very positively on the important concepts, skills, and critical thinking that are taught in the SSAS program.

    Amey and Feist’s research are both available to read for free through the following links:

    Leaya Amey’s research on Website communications for campus sustainability can be found here.

    Alison Feist’s research on Examining collaborative processes for climate change adaptation in New Brunswick, Canada can be found here.

    Categories: SSAS Alumni Contributor, SSAS Program

  • A Student’s Perspective of the Master of Sustainability Graduate Program at Brock University

    Blog contributor: April Sorenson

    My name is April Sorenson and I am currently a Master of Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS) Co-op graduate student at Brock. I am from Reno, Nevada and am a dual citizen in the U.S. and Canada. I received my undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in Landscape Architecture in 2016. After graduation, I worked for Stantec Consulting for two and a half years and earned my LEED GA accreditation. Throughout my studies and work experience, I quickly became aware of the impact that we are having on the earth. As a result, I became increasingly interested in sustainability and began looking into grad programs. I chose this program because of its location on a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, its scholarship and fellowship opportunities, and its experiential education components.

    I have recently completed the coursework for the program and defended a proposal for my Major Research Paper (MRP). My MRP is titled, What is a sustainable city? An analysis of the current sustainable urban rating systems and cities that are leading the way. I am very excited to learn more about sustainable urban design, and I plan on sharing the findings of my research with local municipalities.

    The SSAS program has been an enriching experience that has answered many of the questions I had about sustainability and climate change. This program provides well-rounded coursework that focuses on a transdisciplinary perspective to sustainability science. The curriculum provides a good balance of theory and practice. In addition to coursework, I had the opportunity to work as a Research Assistant for the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab. I was able to expand my knowledge on green infrastructure, low impact development, community improvement plans and knowledge mobilization. This position also helped me gain valuable professional development skills by allowing me to work directly with sustainability professionals at the Town of Lincoln. Working closely with partners at Brock University and the Town of Lincoln was a very rewarding experience because I learned how to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a real-world setting.

    Perhaps the most rewarding part of my experience in the SSAS program is the relationships I have with my fellow peers. Our conversations have expanded my thinking to new levels, and we have supported each other through every obstacle. I know that each of them will contribute to a greener world through their sustainability efforts. The knowledge I gained in this program, along with lifelong friendships, have provided me with a foundation for a rewarding career in sustainability.

     

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Program Reflections, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • My Experience in the Master of Sustainability Program

    Bani Maini

    Blog Contributor: Bani Maini

    It is a daunting task to get up and leave the only way of life you’ve known to move to a new country. In my case, I left India to come to Brock and pursue sustainability science. I enrolled in the Master of Sustainability program in the MRP stream. The past eight months have been filled with academic and experiential engagement with sustainability and have exceeded all my expectations. Through classes, a research assistantship, and a Major Research Paper (MRP) project, I was able to explore my interests and develop my research skills. All the while I have been here, I have had tremendous support from the ESRC department.

    The Fall and Winter semesters included courses on foundations of sustainability, research methods, climate change transformation and adaptation, opportunities to learn project management skills, and engage with wonderful speakers and their work through transdisciplinary seminars. The breadth and depth of the academic courses introduced me to sustainability science in the most exciting way possible.

    As a graduate research assistant, I received constant support from Dr. Ryan Plummer and Amanda Smits in their research work. I had a great opportunity to work on an environmental stewardship project through Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI) partnership between the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) and Brock University. The project was supervised by Dr. Sherman Farhad, who has been a great mentor. Through additional support from Dr. Julia Baird and Dr. Plummer, the project has been a major learning experience which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    In the pursuit of studying marine environments, I was given the full opportunity to explore my research interests. Dr. Jessica Blythe, who is supervising my research, supported all the MRP development phases while also being a constant source of motivation for me. While working on my MRP on area-based conservation in marine environments, I have built on my knowledge, and my determination to address some of the most challenging problems that affect the oceans has grown deeper.

    Despite how daunting it was, the ESRC provided the support and opportunity I needed to assimilate myself into a new environment. It has been inspiring to see everyone at the ESRC working tirelessly towards the common goal of betterment of the environment and society. This turned me into an optimist, and I have decided to follow their footsteps to work towards the common goal. Now, I look forward to developing my MRP research. ​

     

    Categories: Blog, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Program Reflections, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • 3 Things I’ve Learned in the Masters of Sustainability Program

    Erica Harper

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    After one year in the Master of Sustainability program at Brock, I’ve learned a lot about myself, the world around me, and how to be the best environmental steward I can be. Brock has provided me with the opportunity to develop not only as a student, but as a person in this everchanging and complex world we live in. For context, I have a business degree from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia where I specialized in marketing because I have a passion for communicating important information into easy-to-read messages. To be honest, I never imagined going back to school when I graduated in 2018, but the state of the world, its animals, and ecosystems was troubling to me. I wanted to make a difference specifically in the corporate world because I knew that corporations were responsible for a significant portion of the world’s pollution. Therefore, to make this positive difference that I so badly wanted to make, I had to gain knowledge, skills, and connections that would allow me to do. This is where my journey with Brock’s Masters of Sustainability program began.

    Here are three important lessons I’ve learned in the program so far:

    • Imposter syndrome is normal, but it cannot take over your thoughts

    As someone without a science background, I was nervous to be perceived as an “imposter” or as someone who simply didn’t fit in as a business major. That being said, on my first day in Dr. Jessica Blythe’s Foundations of Sustainability Science course, she said everything I needed to hear to be a confident and prepared student in the program. She spoke about imposter syndrome and how it’s normal to feel as though you’re not ready or even qualified for the next step in your life, but to ignore those thoughts and to keep going because she knew that everyone in the program had what it took be successful. Simply having a professor telling their students that they believe in them and that they belong is enough to encourage stressed, confused, and worried students as they try to get used to a new school and program. I felt as though Dr. Blythe was speaking right to me even though she didn’t know much about me yet, and that was the most comforting thing to me. I learned that she was definitely right – imposter syndrome is normal, but the most important thing is to not let it take over your thoughts and be confident in your abilities. Even in rooms where I didn’t feel like I belonged, I forced myself to speak up, ask questions, and be as engaged as I could be, which is a lesson I will take with me no matter where I end up after graduation.

    • Sustainability of all kinds cannot be achieved without collaboration

    Collaboration is a word that is used so often in various contexts that it almost tends to lose its meaning. This program really showed me what collaboration was: working with people from different academic and cultural backgrounds through complex problems in society to achieve a well-rounded solution. Sustainability itself is extremely complicated because it is applicable to most fields of study, namely public health, sport management, ecology, urban design, and political science to name a few. The papers and research that we were exposed to throughout the year in our many classes including environmental sustainability education, research methods, transdisciplinary seminar, and climate change adaptation & transformation have demonstrated how interdisciplinary sustainable solutions are. Solutions cannot be thought of in a vacuum and collaboration is essential to ensure that the main pillars of sustainability are considered: social, economic, political, and environmental. Since most people are not an expert in all four areas, working together as a group of sustainability scientist with a wide variety of backgrounds proves to be the best way to come to a sustainability-oriented solution to any problem. I will continue to value different opinions, suggestions, and frameworks as I go through this program and enter the workforce because collaboration is a skill that is crucial in all aspects of life.

    • You don’t have to fit into a “sustainability mould”

    Starting a master’s program can be intimidating at first and fitting in with what seems “normal” within the world of sustainability can be especially tempting. I’ve learned to resist that urge and to do everything I possibility can to be sustainable without being too hard on myself. Of course, it was important for me to be aware of my own carbon footprint, but it was also important for me to take a step back and realize that I’m doing the best I can, even when the carbon footprint calculator tells me that if everyone lived like me, we would need 2.5 planets to survive. Once I had the opportunity to get to know my professors and learn more about the scholars in the field of sustainability science, I noticed that there are so many ways to fit under the “sustainable” label. It’s not just about never driving your car, being 100% zero-waste, only buying second hand, or only purchasing from 100% sustainable companies – it’s about doing what you can with the resources and knowledge you have in the moment. Although I aspire to do all of those things one day, for now my life looks a little more like this: walking instead of driving when possible, aiming to be low waste (not completely zero-waste), searching for thrift stores that I enjoy, and researching sustainable companies to buy from when I can. Living this way is what works for me at the moment and although I am constantly striving to be a little more sustainable with each passing month, I now know that trying to be the perfect image of sustainability is not sustainable for me right now.

    Whether you are an incoming student in the program or someone who is simply curious about learning more about sustainability, I hope this article was helpful to you! Brock has been a great place for me to grow as a student and as a person in ways that I could not have envisioned a few years ago. I’m glad I made the leap into the Masters of Sustainability program and I’m excited to see where it will take me in the years to come!

    Categories: Blog, Program Reflections, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Master of Sustainability Reflection

    Nolan Kelly

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

    Background

    It is very hard to believe that it has been 8 months since I started my journey as a Master of Sustainability student at Brock. Although I am all done my in-class portion of the program, I still have the Major Research Paper and co-op placement to look forward to. While this is exciting, it also marks the end of my time attending classes at Brock University after 5 years here. As a result, I have decided to reflect on this time by looking back at how I got to where I am, and the influence that the program has had on me. The route I decided to take in my undergrad and masters was a little bit different, and I think that by highlighting my experience and the pathway I took, I can help other students who don’t know what to do next or need a little guidance. Hopefully this can also give students some perspective on the Master of Sustainability program itself to see if it is the right fit for them. This blog will reflect on my background, how I became interested in sustainability and some of the main takeaways that I have learned.

    Minor in Environmental Sustainability

    One of the most difficult and important decisions a person has to make is deciding what educational path they want to take. I was heavily torn between choosing the Sport Management program at Brock or choosing an environmentally based program elsewhere. I ended up choosing the Sport Management program and although I was happy with my decision, I was unsure of how I was going to have any environmental component to my education. During my first year I was thrilled to find out there was an environmental sustainability minor being introduced. I jumped on the opportunity and was really pleased with the amount of choice and diversity there was amongst these minor credits. The two introductory environmental courses were online and did a great job at building up my base of knowledge and first showed me the transdisciplinary aspect of sustainability. In researching this minor, I discovered that there were aspects of science, history, geography, sociology and political science that all came together to give me a better understanding of sustainability science. In fourth year, the contemporary environmental issues course that was the last mandatory credit needed for the environmental sustainability minor, really drew me in. The course was extremely engaging, informative, and left me feeling inspired every time I left. The combination of all the minor courses and especially this last course paved the way for me committing to the Master of Sustainability program.

    Sport Management

    As mentioned above, I came to Brock for their Sport Management program and I really enjoyed it. As I progressed with each year, I found myself drawing upon the knowledge I learned in my environmental sustainability minor and applying it to sport. By third and fourth year I really became interested in the intersection between sport and the environment and took sport management classes that would let me further explore this topic. There were also professors along the way that highlighted the importance of sustainability and the environment which furthered my interest in the topic. When I told people what I was minoring in most would have the same reaction of thinking it was an interesting topic but very different than my major. While I could see how many would think this, I saw the correlation between the two and wanted to explore the ways in which this gap between sport and the environment could be bridged. As a result, I researched the impact and reliance that sport has on the environment and the opportunities that exist within sustainability in sport. I took this interest into my master of sustainability program and decided to make it the central focus of the major research paper that I am writing this summer. While sport management is just one example, it highlights that sustainability has a place in everything.

    Takeaways

    My experience in the master of sustainability program has only solidified this as the transdisciplinary nature of the program was very evident. This allowed me to develop new perspectives in many different areas and further expand my knowledge in sustainability. At the start of the year I was a little reserved and felt like because my background was not more closely related with sustainability science, that it would be an area of weakness for me. However, this was not the case as I learned that my different background added to the conversation and offered a different perspective. While the imposter syndrome many students feel can be difficult to overcome, the professors did a great job at encouraging our ideas and reinforcing the transdisciplinary nature of sustainability. Collaborating with my cohort on projects and assignments was definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of the program. Not only were we able to play to our strengths and be creative but it was a great example of how sustainability works in the real world. We were able to further see this firsthand in our transdisciplinary seminars with professionals in the field. Without collaboration and different perspectives, sustainability could not be successful.

    Categories: Blog, Minor in Sustainability, Program Reflections, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Niagara Adapts Partnership Presentations at Brock University

    Niagara Adapts Team Photo

    Niagara Adapts brings together seven municipalities within the Niagara Region of Ontario — Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St. Catharines and Welland, as well as the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock University, to tackle climate change in the Region.

    Blog Contributor: April Sorenson

    On February 25th, representatives from municipalities within the Niagara Region of Ontario came together to present to the current Master of Sustainability graduate students about an innovative partnership called Niagara Adapts. Niagara Adapts is a partnership that works to reduce the risks associated with climate change and increase resilience in the Niagara Region. On the 25th, a representative from each of seven municipalities gave a presentation on the specific climate change issues their municipality is facing along with their adaptation efforts.  

    Deanna Allen, the Climate Change Coordinator for the Town of Pelham, said that her municipality is predicting many challenges related to climate change. Some of these challenges include summer droughts leading to water supply shortages, more frequent episodes of rain resulting in severe washouts and flooding, a higher likelihood of experiencing heat stress, freezing rain events that could damage hydro lines, and an increased demand for municipal services. Many of the other municipal representatives presented similar concerns. Olivia Groff, the Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator for St. Catharines, said that there have been 56 extreme weather warnings in the past two years alone.  

    Fortunately, several municipalities have already taken steps to adapt to climate change. James Sticca, Manager of Environmental Services at the City of Niagara Falls, outlined the steps they’ve taken to adapt to climate change, including a Rain Barrel Purchasing Program, a Low Flow Toilet Rebate Program, and a Water Monitoring Device Rebate Program. Many of the presenters were hopeful that through continued collaboration with Niagara Adapts and local communities, real progress will be made in adapting to climate change.  

    Municipal governments are at the front lines of climate change. Many are stepping up to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their residents. The Town of Lincoln, the Town of Pelham, St. Catharines, Welland and The City of Niagara Falls have provided more information about their climate change adaptation efforts and their contribution to Niagara Adapts on their websites.  

    These presentations are available online via the ESRC YouTube Channel. 

    Links to the climate vulnerability fact sheets can be found on the Niagara Adapts Website

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts, SSAS Student Contributor