Articles by author: Erin Daly

  • Stories of Sustainability: Experiential Education for SSAS Students in Niagara Parks

    Blog Contributor: Norievill Espana

    SSAS students and Environmental Sustainability Research Centre staff boarded a big yellow bus to visit Niagara Parks as part of the 5P01 Foundations in Sustainability Science and Society course, which was instructed by Dr. Jessica Blythe throughout the Fall 2022 semester. This experiential learning was designed to reinforce knowledge exchange beyond the four walls of the classroom.

    Dr. Ryan Plummer, Director of the ESRC and team lead of the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI), joined the class and shared information on the EESI, a partnership between Brock University’s ESRC and the Niagara Parks Commission. He added that the EESI aims to enhance environmental stewardship, knowledge sharing, and capacity development through the partnership. Dr. Plummer then introduced Corey Burant, Project Manager for Forest Health Parks, Planning and Properties,from Niagara Parks who facilitated the tour for the SSAS students.

    The first stop was the Niagara Gorge, overlooking the whirlpool and surrounded by a 10,000-year-old rock formation. Corey explained how Niagara Parks employees used prescribed burning to remove and control invasive plant species and maintain the native population. He also shared how forest rangers installed gates and signage and have rerouted trails to protect endangered species. However, vandalism and intrusion remain a challenge within the park.

    The group then proceeded to the Niagara Glen Nature Centre. The Centre is a key location where Niagara Parks fosters knowledge and awareness through nature-based experience. Here, visitors can take part in a point-based trading system by sharing photos of plants and animals that they encountered around the area during their hikes and visits. The staff working at the Centre showed the SSAS students’ items and their corresponding points such as rocks, fossils, taxidermy, shells, and others.

    Before proceeding to the next stop, Samantha Witkowski, SSAS Alumnus, joined the students and shared an overview of her research on monitoring and evaluation of tourist perception and behavior in Niagara Parks. She also shared how the outputs of her research assisted Niagara Parks in identifying sustainable tourism strategies to improve tourist awareness and engagement. After her presentation, the SSAS students made a quick round of sharing their proposed topics of research which included improving awareness on climate change, biodiversity conservation, and environmental restoration.

    The next stop on the tour was the Chippawa Battlefield Park where Corey shared about the history of the grassland, and how the conservation efforts undertaken by Niagara Parks have led to a flourishing ecosystem and thriving population of important bird species.

    Last was a short walk to Ussher’s Creek, one of the shoreline restoration sites in Niagara Parks.  Corey shared that Niagara Parks has adopted a method of piling and dropping fallen trees into the water. The fallen trees provide habitat and feeding areas for diverse species of fish. At the onset, they were worried the method would go against the aesthetic plan of the shoreline but gained support from the surrounding community and saw success in their use of fallen trees. Corey highlighted that NPC continues to find sustainable ways in maintaining Niagara Parks establishments and amenities.

    The experiential learning at Niagara Parks was a beneficial way to wrap up the Fall 2022 term. SSAS students learned first-hand information about how sustainability is embedded in corporate actions and the importance of transdisciplinary initiatives, where academe and partners work hand-in-hand to achieve environmental sustainability goals.

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Experiential Education, Innovative Partnership, Student Contributor

  • A Lunch and Learn on Climate Readiness at Niagara Parks

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Heaney

    On November 24th, 2022, the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI), a partnership between the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) and the Niagara Parks Commission, held a lunch and learn at the Legends on Niagara Golf Course. The lunch and learn afforded an opportunity to share information about the Niagara Parks Climate Readiness Plan, developed by the EESI, and discuss implementation actions for the future.

    Ryan Plummer welcomed everyone and Steve Barnhart, Senior Director for Planning, Environment, and Culture, opened the event with a land acknowledgment. Ryan Plummer and Shannon Heaney then presented an overview of the Niagara Parks Climate Readiness Plan. Their presentation described the development of the plan, illustrated climate scenarios in the Niagara Region, and identified climate related threats specific to Niagara Parks.

    The presentation also set out the three overarching goals which are the foundation of the plan. The three goals are to: 1) ensure public safety, 2) minimize risk to infrastructure, and 3) reduce net environmental, human and infrastructure costs of climate impacts.

    Corey Burant, Project Manager for Forest Health Parks, Planning and Properties, shared information about the many current initiatives by Niagara Parks which address climate change such as native shoreline rehabilitation, the completion of the Feast on Certificate, and incentivizing sustainable travel among others.

    Following the presentation, the EESI team next posed the following open-ended questions to over 25 attendees:

    1. How can you implement the climate readiness plan in your individual role?
    2. How can you implement the climate readiness plan in your business unit?
    3. How can Niagara Parks implement the climate readiness plan on an organization level?
    4. What can Niagara Parks do to build capacity to support implementation of the climate readiness plan?

    Members of Niagara Parks carefully considered these questions and discussed them with their colleagues and were invited to record their ideas on sticky notes.

    The discussion resulted in various interests and ideas from attendees. The first three questions, which asked about implementation of the Climate Readiness Plan, yielded similar themes. These themes included an interest in continual education and knowledge sharing about the Climate Readiness Plan, identifying ways to integrate and implement the Climate Readiness Plan including actions at the individual, business unit, and organizational level. Further, there was a strong interest regarding collaboration within Niagara Parks, as well as with external partners, and fostering motivations and ideas at all levels related to climate readiness. The discussion also generated excellent ideas on specific actions that could be implemented across Niagara Parks related to climate readiness.

    The final question asked attendees to reflect on how Niagara Parks could build capacity to support implementation of the Climate Readiness Plan. Attendees echoed the themes above, identifying education and awareness as an important way to build capacity, as well as expanding collaboration both internally and externally, with partnerships that align with Niagara Parks mandate and mission.

    Steve Barnhart, Senior Director for Planning, Environment and Culture, concluded the event by discussing next steps related to the Climate Readiness Plan within Niagara Parks. As participants left the event with an infographic in hand, requests were made for similar events in the future. The lunch and learn was a huge success, and sparked conversations about the Climate Readiness Plan which will continue beyond the 1-hour lunch and learn event.

    Categories: Applied Research, Blog, Conferences, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor

  • What are Social-Ecological Systems?

    Blog Contributor: Lyndsay Bott

    Defining Social-Ecological Systems

    Social-ecological Systems (SES) can be described as a “system of people and nature”. While this may seem intuitive, the close connection between people and nature hasn’t always been central in environmental thinking.

    This term social-ecological system was originally coined in the 1970s and is now used within many disciplines, such as the environmental sciences, social sciences, economics, business, and medicine, among others. Other authors have described SES as a system that connects two subsystems of social (human) and ecological (biophysical). These two subsystems are inherently interdependent. A more complex definition of SES is an “Integrated system in which human society and its multiple cultural, political, social, economic, institutional, and technological expressions interact with ecosystems (p.1). tend to identify a close relationship between two systems: the social and the ecological. The social component of SES typically deals with politics, history, economics, and ethics, among other institutions. The ecological component of SES deals with the natural habitats, animals, aquatic health, and changes in climate.

    The Adaptive Capacity of Social-Ecological Systems

    A social-ecological systems perspective provides a framework for understanding the complex dynamics occurring between environmental and societal changes. It highlights the intense dependency that society has on the natural environment. From a social-ecological systems perspective, uncertainty is an inherent part of all systems. A systems’ adaptive capacity describes its ability to respond to potential damage, take advantage of opportunities, or respond to consequences. The adaptive dynamics of social-ecological systems allow for the creation and success of governance systems. Click here to learn more about governance. The marking of a sustainable and long-term SES is the ability to adapt to many variables that arise over periods of time.

    In 2009, Elinor Ostrom (winner of the Nobel prize) introduced the social-ecological systems framework. Based on decades of Ostrom’s empirical work on the commons, the framework provides guidance on how to assess the social and ecological dimensions that contribute to sustainable resource use and management across scales and contexts. SESs come in many different shapes and sizes, varying in scale and focus. According to the SES framework, the subsystems that make-up SESs can function independently, such as governance systems, users of a system, and the units produced by the system, but then join to produce complex social-ecological systems. When using fisheries as an example, the governance systems would be organizations that manage fishers, the users would be the fishermen, and the units would be the number of lobsters caught. All aspects of this social-ecological system example can act independently and have their own role to play, but then come together to produce a complex SES of fisheries. This example also illustrates the varying scale of SESs, as individually fishers and lobsters are small, but together form a large-scale system of fisheries. Therefore, all subsystems must collaborate and adapt to one another to effectively produce a sustainable SES. Understanding the complex nature of social-ecological systems can lead to ensuring their long-term resilience. To read more about the term resilience, click here.

    References

    Berkes, F. (2017). Environmental Governance for the Anthropocene? Social-Ecological Systems, Resilience, and Collaborative Learning. Sustainability (Basel, Switzerland), 9(7), 1232–. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9071232

    Biggs, R., Schlüter, M., Biggs, D., Bohensky, E. L., BurnSilver, S., Cundill, G., Dakos, V., Daw, T. M., Evans, L. S., Kotschy, K., Leitch, A. M., Meek, C., Quinland, A., Raudseep-    Hearne, C., Robards, M. D., Schoon, M. L., Schultz, L., & West, P. C. (2012). Toward     Principles for Enhancing the Resilience of Ecosystem Services. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 37(1), 421–448. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-051211-123836

    Colding, J., & Barthel, S. (2019). Exploring the social-ecological systems discourse 20 years later. Ecology and Society, 24(1), 423–. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-10598-240102

    Farhad, S., & Baird, J. (2021). Freshwater governance and resilience⁎. Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-819166-8.00109-2

    Fischer, J., Gardner, T. A., Bennett, E. M., Balvanera, P., Biggs, R., Carpenter, S., Daw, T., Folke,      C., Hill, R., Hughes, T. P., Luthe, T., Maass, M., Meacham, M., Norstrom, A. V., Peterson, G., Queiroz, C., Seppelt, R., Spierenburg, M., & Tenhunen, J. (2015). Advancing sustainability through mainstreaming a social–ecological systems perspective. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 14, 144–149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2015.06.002

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability Definitions

  • Social-Ecological Resilience: What is it and why is it important?

    Blog Contributor: Madison Lepp

    Recent years have seen an explosion of research and policies using the term resilience. Yet, the word means many things to many people, and is used to evoke a variety of actions. As uses of the term resilience continue to grow, there is value in clarifying the meanings of resilience.

    The Rise of Social-Ecological Resilience Thinking 

    The notion of ‘social-ecological resilience’ has roots in the field of ecology and aims to describe the complex system dynamics in the context of social-ecological systems (Folke, 2006). From this perspective, humans and the environment are understood as inextricably linked (Walker et al., 2004). This linking of ecosystems and people is vital to the field of social-ecological resilience. In our globalised society, there are virtually no ecosystems that are not shaped by people and no people who do not rely on ecosystems and the services they provide.

    In 2005, the United Nations Millennium Ecosytsem Assessment providedthe first global assessment of the world’s ecosystems and introduced the notion of ecosystem services to the global community. Ecosystem services is a term that describes the benefits that humans derive from nature. The report showed that our consumption of  food, freshwater, timber, fibre, and fuel have changed the Earth’s ecosystems. In many cases, the demand for provisioning services such as freshwater, crops, or meat has undermined the delivery of other essential ecosystem services such as climate regulation or cultural heritage. Seven principles for building resilience have been proposed to enhance ecosystem services that support human social and economic well-being (Biggs et al., 2012; Biggs et al., 2015).

    Today, the Stockholm Resilience Centre defines social-ecological resilience as: “the capacity of a system, be it an individual, a forest, a city or an economy, to deal with change and continue to develop. It is about how humans and nature can use shocks and disturbances like a financial crisis or climate change to spur renewal and innovative thinking.”

    Applying Resilience Thinking

    The impacts of humankind on the world’s ecosystems have increased the likelihood of large, nonlinear, and irreversible changes (IPCC, 2021). Occurrences such as sea level rise, melting ice sheets, and flooding have devastating impacts on ecosystem services and human well-being. To minimize the negative impacts of climate change, many are calling for strategies to ensure a sufficient, dependable, and equitable flow of essential ecosystem services (IPCC, 2014). Resilience thinking is an important part of the solution, as it is an approach that strives to build flexibility and adaptive capacity rather than attempting to achieve stable optimal production and short-term economic gains.

    Resilience thinking aims to strengthen our capacity to deal with the stresses caused by climate change and other aspects of global change. It is about finding ways to deal with unexpected events and crises and identifying sustainable ways for humans to live within the Earth’s boundaries. The sixth IPCC Assessment Report also notes that the concept of resilience to climate change overlaps with concepts of vulnerability, adaptive capacity, and risk, while resilience as a strategy overlaps with risk management, adaptation, and transformation (IPCC, 2022). Notably, social-ecological system research emphasizes the significance of the social, institutional, and cultural contexts in social-ecological systems. This type of thinking represents a shift towards appreciating diverse values and the role of culture in guiding human actions (rather than instruments and incentives), closing the gap between science and society (Reyers et al., 2018).

    However, the term and theory are not without their critiques. Various scholars have cautioned that sometimes actions aimed to increase social-ecological resilience can fail to address issues of equity, justice, and power (Cote and Nightingale, 2012). Other critiques include the various misconceptions of the theory and the lack of agreement on applying resilience principles (Walker et al., 2020).

    Moving Forward

    Given the rapid rate of climate change, biodiversity loss, and rising social inequality there is a pressing need to operationalize in the context of social-ecological systems (Rocha et al. 2022). The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report highlights the need for “effective, feasible, and just means of reducing climate risk, increasing resilience, and pursuing other climate-related societal goals” (IPCC, 2022, p. 41, emphasis added). It is imperative that policies create space for flexible and innovative collaboration and highlight the interrelationships between the biosphere and society (Folke et al., 2021). So, while resilience may not be the only solution, resilience thinking offers a pathway to a building a more equitable and sustainable future.

    References

    Biggs, R., Schlüter, M., & Schoon, M. L. (Eds.). (2015). Principles for building resilience: Sustaining Ecosystem Services in social-ecological systems. Cambridge University Press.

    Biggs, R., Schlüter, M., Biggs, D., Bohensky, E. L., BurnSilver, S., Cundill, G., Dakos, V., Daw, T. M., Evans, L. S., Kotschy, K., Leitch, A. M., Meek, C., Quinlan, A., Raudsepp-Hearne, C., Robards, M. D., Schoon, M. L., Schultz, L., & West, P. C. (2012). Toward principles for enhancing the resilience of Ecosystem Services. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 37(1), 421–448. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-051211-123836

    Cote, M., & Nightingale, A. J. (2012). Resilience thinking meets social theory: situating social change in socio-ecological systems (SES) research. Progress in human geography36(4), 475-489.

    Fitzgibbons, J., & Mitchell, C. L. (2019). Just urban futures? exploring equity in “100 resilient cities.” World Development, 122, 648–659. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.06.021

    Folke, C. (2006). Resilience: The emergence of a perspective for social–ecological systems analyses. Global environmental change16(3), 253-267.

    Folke, C., Carpenter, S., Elmqvist, T., Gunderson, L., & Walker, B. (2021). Resilience: Now more than ever. Ambio, 50(10), 1774–1777. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01487-6

    IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp

    IPCC, 2021: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis.

    Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S.L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M.I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T.K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu, and B. Zhou (eds.)]. In Press.

    IPCC, 2022: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, M. Tignor, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem, B. Rama (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press.

    Meerow, S., & Newell, J. P. (2016). Urban resilience for whom, what, when, where, and why? Urban Geography, 00(00), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2016.1206395

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

  • Governance: what is it and why does it matter?

    Blog Contributor: Lyndsay Bott

    This blog is part of a series where we will focus on unpacking terminology commonly used by sustainability scientists. Today we begin with the term governance. Governance is a broad, all-encompassing term that is understood in a range of ways. We are pleased to provide our interpretation here.

    Background of Governance

    Governance is the coordination of groups or “actors” that use both formal and informal processes to work towards a shared goal. This concept includes both governments and non-governmental groups, such as non-governmental organizations, industry, and the public.

    Governance differs from ‘government’ in that it involves a shift from government-centered decision-making and direction setting approaches to those where power and engagement is more widely distributed; therefore, governance requires coordination between society and the government. Governance is essential to integrate the varying interests and knowledge of actors into decision-making, which is important for addressing contemporary environmental problems that are complex and interacting with other factors and issues at a range of scales (biophysical, jurisdictional, time) and levels (from local to global).

    Governance differs from management in that it is a broader range of activities and processes with direction-setting outcomes, where management is focused on analyzing, monitoring, and developing and implementing measures that have a direct impact on the system.

    Key Features of Good Governance

    Here we focus on ‘good governance’ approaches. Important conditions for good governance include:

    • Inclusiveness: providing equal opportunity for all relevant actors to engage in governance processes
    • Participation: engaging all relevant actors in decision-making
    • Transparency: clarity in how decisions are made
    • Accountability of all actors: all relevant actors
    • Polycentricity: Connectedness within and across levels that various actors work in
    • Collaboration: working together among relevant actors in governance processes

    Since governance of the environment involves many and complex interactions between natural and social systems (called a ‘social-ecological system’), there are additional considerations for good governance. Other key features of governance that support social-ecological systems are the consideration for the diverse needs of systems, fit between the scales of the problem and the actors that govern it, as well as remaining flexible, adaptive, and active to address the complexity and uncertainty inherent in these systems.

    Types of Governance for the Environment

    Various ways of thinking about governance have developed over time to address governance needs in specific contexts. Some examples of forms of governance related to our interest in the environment and social-ecological systems are environmental governance, adaptive governance, and water governance.

    Environmental governance focuses on governing environmental issues, including the physical ecosystems humans and other species rely on for survival and wellbeing. Environmental governance focuses on shared decision-making among the state (e.g., governments), community (e.g., non-governmental societal actors) and the market (e.g., industry) across scales. It emphasizes decentralization through new organizational entities (e.g., community-based groups) with authority and corresponding responsibility distributed more widely than in a government-centered approach. Within the realm of governance types, environmental governance is primarily aimed at influencing environmental actions and outcomes.

    Adaptive governance, a type of environmental governance, was developed to better manage the uncertainty and complex interactions in social-ecological systems. The focus of adapting is on managing, or coping with, change including known and unknown disturbances. Adapting, and adaptive governance, happens through a range of mechanisms, including monitoring, experimenting, and learning together with others who bring diverse knowledge and perspectives. Overall, adaptive governance is an approach that recognizes the need for flexibility and capacity for change in response to unpredictable change at levels from local to global.

    Finally, governance approaches for specific natural resources have also been developed. A good example of this is water governance – a range of systems that include social, economic, and administrative aspects to manage water resources at various levels of society. The importance of water governance has been emphasized due to climate change and its uneven impacts on water quality and availability, as well as extreme events including flooding and droughts. For more information regarding climate change impacts on water from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), click here.

    The study of governance approaches to environmental issues is a focus of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock University, and through transdisciplinary partnerships such as the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience.

    Enacting Environmental Governance Through Innovative Partnerships at Brock University

    The Partnership for Freshwater Resilience between the Environmental Sustainability and Research Centre (ESRC) at Brock University and WWF-Canada works to advance the understanding and applications of freshwater resilience and stewardship. Beginning in 2019, this 5-year partnership works to understand how to build resilience in Canada, during times of climate change and increasing threats. Specifically, in the context of governance, this partnership looks to generate innovative and evidence-based approaches to freshwater governance and management within the Wolastoq/St. John River basin. Key outputs from this partnership so far include a ‘map’ of the governance network of flood planning in the basin, and assessments of the fit of flood governance to the scope of the issue. Overall, this partnership works to harness the shared expertise in research and practice between WWF-Canada and the ESRC for practical and policy impact.

    References

    Ansell, C. (2002). Debating Governance: Authority, Steering, and Democracy. Edited by

    Jon Pierre. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. 251p. The American Political Science Review, 96(3), 668–669. https://doi.org/10.1017/S000305540281036X

    Booth, J. (2021, April 5). The Brock-WWF Partnership for Freshwater Resilience. Brock

    University. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://brocku.ca/esrc/2021/04/05/the-brock-wwf-partnership-for-freshwater-resilience/

    Chaffin, B. C., Gosnell, H., & Cosens, B. A. (2014). A decade of adaptive governance

    scholarship: synthesis and future directions. Ecology and Society, 19(3), 56–. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-06824-190356

    Chaffin, B. C., & Gunderson, L. H. (2016). Emergence, institutionalization and renewal:

    Rhythms of adaptive governance in complex social-ecological systems. Journal of Environmental Management, 165, 81–87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.09.003

    Farhad, S., & Baird, J. (2021). Freshwater governance and resilience⁎. Reference Module 

    in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-819166-8.00109-2

    Garmestani, A.S., & Benson, M. H. (2013). A Framework for Resilience-based Governance of    Social-Ecological Systems. Ecology and Society, 18(1), 9. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES- 05180-180109

    Hall, A. W., & Rogers, P. (2003). Effective Water Governance. In TEC Background Papers

    (Vol. 7, pp. 1–49). essay, Global Water Partnership.

    Hasselman, L. (2017). Adaptive management; adaptive co-management; adaptive 

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

  • Seen & Heard at the ESRC: FOSS Research Colloquium

    On December 7th, the Faculty of Social Sciences hosted their annual Research Colloquium. This event is an opportunity to hear from the faculty recipients of two awards presented each year by the Faculty of Social Sciences: Distinguished Researcher and Early Career Researcher. Typically, the Colloquium features presentations by faculty awardees from the previous year. In addition to faculty award winners, the Research Colloquium features presenters selected from among recent recipients of the FOSS Student Research Award.

    As one of the recipients of this year’s FOSS Student Research Award, Master of Sustainability student Tannaz Sattar presented her research titled “Urban Green Space Typology and the Main Indicators for Maximizing their Performance; Case Studies of Isfahan, Milan, and Toronto”. This research was supervised by Dr. Ryan Plummer, and investigates the presence or absence of some urban green space categories in the three case studies, which are city of Isfahan in Iran, city of Milan in Italy, and city of Toronto in Canada.

    Congratulations, Tannaz!

    Categories: Blog, Conferences, Event, SSAS Program

  • Seen & Heard at the ESRC: 3 Minute Thesis Presentations

    On Friday, November 18th, 2022, second-year students in the Master of Sustainability program presented their thesis and MRP research to their peers in their Transdisciplinary Seminar course (SSAS 5P04). Course instructor Dr. Jessica Blythe challenged the students to present their research in the 3 Minute Thesis format, which allows presenters one PowerPoint slide and three minutes to explain their research.

    This group of students did a great job with their presentations, and we enjoyed learning about each of their chosen topics! Learn more about each student and their presentation in the photos below!

     

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program

  • Seen & Heard in the ESRC: Careers in Sustainability Panel at Brock University

    On November 4, 2022, the ESRC hosted a Careers in Sustainability panel as part of our graduate transdisciplinary seminar course.

    This panel consisted of four professionals that will share their experiences navigating the transition from graduate school into the field of Sustainability, how their co-op positions helped facilitate the transition, the key skills that have been the most helpful in their current roles, and the challenges or opportunities they faced throughout their journey from graduate student to where they are today.

    We were thrilled to be able to welcome back three SSAS alumni as panelists: Pulkit Garg (Class of 2020), Erica Harper (Class of 2020), and Mikellena Nettos (Class of 2022). We were also joined by Ryan DeSouza from Brock’s office of Co-op, Careers, and Experiential Education.

    The full panel is available on our YouTube channel – watch here!

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, Event

  • Master of Sustainability Class Helps with Tree Inventory at Charles Daley Park

    Blog Contributor: Kassie Burns

    A class trip contributed to an ongoing Brock-Lincoln Living Lab research project  assisting the Town of Lincoln with research to inform management strategies for their urban tree canopy. Dr. Marilyne Jollineau and Master of Sustainability alumnus, Baharak Razaghirad, have continued Baharak’s thesis work that included an urban tree canopy assessment for the Town. While in the field, the class collected global positioning system (GPS) data of individual trees and recorded information including  tree species type, diameter at breast height, tree condition, and other characteristics used to calculate the dollar value to the ecosystem benefits provided by each tree. Ecosystem benefits are ones that naturally occur in the environment that provide some service to improve human quality of life, such as air and water quality. Students collected data on approximately 30 trees representing total annual benefits of approximately $2,000 saved in ecosystem benefits! This information is available on a collaborative crowd-sourced platform for tree inventory, ecosystem service calculation, and community engagement called OpenTreeMap. This platform can be accessed by the public to add and/or view these trees and to calculate their eco-benefits.

    I was fortunate to be able to help with this project through the graduate class (SSAS 5P13) entitled Landscape Ecology and Ecosystem Management, instructed by Dr. Marilyne Jollineau. On a field trip taken to Charles Daley Park (CDP), the class was able to help contribute to the OpenTreeMap database by conducting similar field research observations as mentioned above. The exposure to working in the field left me with so many learning opportunities and positive memories.

    1. Helped contribute to a project that helps a municipality evaluate its tree canopy resources.
    • Increased tree inventory data in an area vulnerable to climate change.
    • Provided field work data that can help determine tree location and new sites to plant trees.
    • Obtained data on tree size to assess extent of ecosystem services provided for the Town.
    1. Gained practical experience in the field.
    • Used equipment such as GARMIN eTrex 30 GPS device to map precise location of trees.
    • Acquired knowledge on proper techniques to measure tree diameter.
    • Identified species, reported tree characteristics/observations, and tagged trees analyzed.
    • Appreciated the time required to plan and gather materials prior to conducting field work.
    1. Learned more about the location, landscape, and shoreline issues.
    • In 2017 the Town of Lincoln had a flooding event leading to a voluntary evacuation of the shoreline residents at CDP (DeCock-Caspell, 2020).
    • The remnants of foundations of homes can still be seen in the water.
    • Construction of the QEW narrowed both sides of the creek that could have led to a bottleneck effect that impacted water flow (DeCock-Caspell, 2020).
    • A wetland now resides off the shoreline.

    References

    DeCock-Caspell, M. (2020). If Coastlines Could Talk…A Story of Lincoln, Ontario. Retrieved November 5, 2022, from https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/8997ca2440e24be4881612411ff6bf95

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Experiential Education, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor, Town of Lincoln

  • Congratulations, Lyndsay Bott!

     

    On October 14th, 2022, Lyndsay Bott will be the latest student to graduate from the Master of Sustainability program at Brock University. Lyndsay joined the program in 2021 and began working under the supervision of Dr. Julia Baird as part of the Water Resilience Lab. Lyndsay’s Major Research Paper looked at the relationships between peer-reviewed literature and Ontario best practice guides to aid the understanding of control methods for invasive Phragmites.

    We caught up with Lyndsay and asked her some questions about her time in the SSAS program, and her plans for her career.

    Q: Describe the research project you completed during your time in the SSAS program.

    Lyndsay Bott: My MRP focused on identifying best management practices for the control of invasive Phragmites to produce recommendations for private landowners in the Niagara region. I compared invasive Phragmites control methods from both peer-reviewed literature and Ontario Best Practice Guides to identify the overall risks associated for private landowners. These control methods were compared with the goal to bridge the gap between published and practical literature to finally produce an infographic to potentially be distributed to private landowners in the Niagara region.

    Q: How has your time in the program shaped your future career goals?

    LB: The SSAS program has immensely shaped my career goals. I believe what you do in this program subjects you to interests you may not have previously known existed. For example, during my time as a student in the SSAS program I was exposed to new interests through my personal completion of an MRP, the work I completed as a Research Assistant, and by participating in class projects or activities. I believe the interdisciplinary nature of the SSAS program allowed me to broaden my career interests and made me qualified for a vast number of roles right out of university. Overall, the SSAS program broadened my future career goals, as I am aware of new interests and potential opportunities.

    Q: What are some of your favourite memories from your time in the SSAS program?

    LB: One of my favorite memories of the SSAS program was the field trip we took to present our project to the Niagara Parks Commission at the Power Station in Niagara Falls. This trip came at the end of the semester after my peers spent a couple of months completing a Communication Strategy and Interpretive Plan for the Niagara Parks Commission with the goal to help them become a leader in environmental sustainability within the Niagara region. Being able to present completed work to a community partner was a great learning and professional experience but participating in the tour of the Power Station and other Niagara Parks landmarks was amazing. Overall, it is a really wonderful memory I hold of being able to spend time with my peers outside of the classroom while presenting really meaningful work that everyone put great effort into.

    Q: What are your plans now that you’ve completed your master’s degree? 

    LB: Following the completion of my master’s, I very quickly landed a job in northern British Columbia working with an Indigenous group as an environmental referral’s coordinator. The SSAS program really set me up to be qualified for such an important role advocating for the sustainability of this Indigenous group’s territory in British Columbia. I do have the long-term goal to go back to school to complete further education, as finishing this master’s degree also opened my eyes to the rewarding nature of completing individual research.

     We offer our sincere congratulations to Lyndsay, and to all Brock students graduating this week!

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program