Articles by author: Erin Daly

  • My Experience in the Master of Sustainability Program 2020-2021

    Blog Contributor: Allison Clark

    I accepted my admissions offer to the Master of Sustainability program in February 2020, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. I was expecting all courses to be taught in person and was looking forward to building connections with faculty members and students at Brock. After several months of lockdowns, it became apparent that the 2020-2021 academic year would take place virtually. While I understood the importance of working from home during the pandemic, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to undertake graduate studies in person. Nevertheless, I knew the Master of Sustainability program was the right fit for me, so I began my studies in September 2020.

    From the comfort of my home in Nova Scotia, I spent the past two terms completing courses pertaining to sustainability, science and society. Required courses focused on the foundations of sustainability science, research methods for environmental inquiry, and transdisciplinary research in practice. Through these courses, I was able to better understand the complex social-ecological issues we are faced with as sustainability scientists. As an elective, I enrolled in a directed readings course with my supervisor, Dr. Michael Pisaric. This course allowed me to engage with literature pertaining to my thesis topic, investigating the impacts of climate change on vegetation in the Canadian Arctic. I also audited a climate change adaptation course taught by Dr. Jessica Blythe, where I was able to learn about climate adaptation at the academic, municipal, and corporate levels. Despite these courses being entirely virtual, each of my professors cultivated incredible, open, and engaging learning experiences. Having small class sizes allowed me to build connections with my classmates and professors – both of whom have encouraged and supported me every step of the way.

    As a graduate research assistant, I worked on the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative, a partnership between Brock University and the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC). My co-worker, fellow student, and now friend, Savannah Stuart, was also assigned to this position. Together, Savannah and I focused most of our time developing a Climate Change Readiness Plan for the NPC. We received constant support from our supervisor, Dr. Ryan Plummer, who guided us through the planning process. Through this position, I was able to develop my leadership, communication, teamwork, and qualitative research skills.

    Through my thesis research, I have been able to foster my passion for Arctic ecology and climate change. With the help of Dr. Michael Pisaric, I formulated a successful thesis proposal, which will guide me through my research in the terms to come. My proposed research requires me to complete in-person laboratory analyses, which will be done in the Water and Environment Laboratory at Brock. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, I was not able to work on this aspect of my research during the Fall or Winter terms. Luckily, I was recently approved to work in the laboratory. With this approval, I made the big move from Nova Scotia to Ontario so that I could continue with my research.

    Overall, faculty and staff within the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre have created an incredibly supportive and engaging learning environment, which is no small feat during a pandemic. I have already learned more than I could have ever imagined going into this program. I am eager to continue in the program through my thesis research. In doing so, I have no doubts that I will have support from those within the Sustainability program at Brock.

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

  • Master of Sustainability – My First Year

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

    When I imagined going to grad school, I often pictured myself sitting in a small seminar room, having thought provoking discussions with a group of like-minded individuals, making plans to save the world. However, the year 2020 had other plans in store for my grad school experience. With the forced introduction of online school, we were left no choice other than to navigate this unique time in history together.

    When I started school, I felt as if I was being cheated out of a “real” grad school experience and I found myself questioning if I was going to get the same skills and experiences as students who were able to graduate before me. While of course the experiences had to be altered to an online setting, I never felt that I was not receiving a full and quality education. I found myself looking forward to the discussions in our weekly classes, and while we we’re joining from all over the globe, the discussions were enriching, and I still felt connected to the material and my peers. When we finally signed off for our final class of the year, I truly felt connected to my peers and professors, and although we’ve never met in person, I believe that I still managed to make friends for life.

    This program has changed the way I view sustainability but most importantly it has changed the way I think and utilize my knowledge. I have learned how to view problems from multiple perspectives and how to apply research into real world applications. I have learned about the importance of scientific and ancient knowledge. I have learned how to critically evaluate and challenge my baseline assumptions. But most importantly, I have learned to listen and critically evaluate knowledge, accepting that it is completely okay for my opinions to my challenged and changed.

    One thing that has been extremely challenging for so many of us during COVID is feelings of isolation and loneliness. However, while I have not met any of the people involved in the program, we were still able to foster a sense of community and connection in an online space. I am extremely grateful for the faculty, my professors, and of course my peers for going above and beyond in making us feel connected.

    As a thesis student, much of my first year has been dedicated to designing and building the foundations of my research. Through this program I feel that the way in which I look at research has been altered, which has ultimately made me a stronger researcher. I have learned about the importance of connecting research to real world problems as well as the importance of viewing problems from multiple perspectives. This insight has enriched my research immensely and all of the courses that I took we’re directly relevant in enhancing my thinking and skills. Building a research proposal has been a long and difficult process, however I feel that the content and skills that I was learning along the way helped with the entire process. While COVID has made a lot of things harder, I also feel like I was granted freedom to develop my ideas in my own space and on my own timeline, which helped foster my creativity and thinking along the way.

    Overall, while this year is not what I imagined my first year of grad school being, I wouldn’t take anything back and I am extremely grateful for the things I have learned, the experiences I have gained, and the friends I have made.

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

  • Partnership for Freshwater Resilience Research Participant Webinar

    Blog Contributor: Jillian Booth

    The Brock-WWF Canada Partnership for Freshwater Resilience held a research participant webinar on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021 to present the results of the social network analysis performed on the flood planning network of the St. John River Basin.

    The research lead, Dr. Julia Baird, introduced the members of the partnership and the work that has been done in the St. John River Basin thus far. The participants were informed that the results presented in this webinar build off the preliminary results previously presented by the partnership during the summit they held this past June 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the webinar was held virtually through a live stream where participants remained anonymous to meet confidentiality requirements.

    The Vice President of Resilient Habitats at WWF-Canada and the co-lead of the partnership, Simon Mitchell, explained the importance of the partnership’s work in building freshwater resilience and stewardship in New Brunswick and across Canada. This highlighted the importance of how knowledge mobilization can improve governance of a watershed and the surrounding community and environment. Social network analysis is useful as it can identify opportunities to collaborate and catalyze thinking into action and how to facilitate this moving forward.

    The student research lead, Bridget McGlynn, presented the results of the study, explaining that social network analyses are used to study how people and organizations are connected and can identify the range and types of connection, in this case in communication, and collaboration. It was explained that understanding these structures can help add and transform decision-making systems to maximize the benefits received. Disclosing that the resulting network structures of the study do not capture the full picture as there were some non-respondents and discrepancies between respondents in terms of perspectives.

    The results from the social network analysis found that there is communication throughout the entire basin, however, municipalities tend to communicate with other government agencies, and similarly, non-government organizations (NGOs) and watershed organizations tend to communicate more with each other than with others. In terms of collaboration throughout the basin, it is often happening within parts of the basin (upper, middle, or lower) with less collaboration between different parts of the basin. Organizations that work across multiple parts of the basin are thus important to whole-basin collaboration. The results from key informant interviews were used to identify key tasks to improve flood planning on a watershed scale. It was found that there is a lot of assessment work, knowledge sharing, and communication, and less application of these efforts through projects on the ground.

    Moving forward, the connection between task engagement and effectiveness will be further analyzed due to the high interest expressed by participants during the webinar. Efforts to improve collaboration in flood planning in the St. John River Basin should focus on sharing the lessons learned between key actors to ensure long-term success. This includes addressing the current disconnects between upper, middle, and lower basin organizations that are further compounded by political boundaries especially between Maine, Quebec, and News Brunswick. Also, collaboration between upriver and down river organizations is needed, considering a good chunk of flooding comes from upriver. In addition, more support is needed for organizations to make stronger connections to the surrounding community through webinars and workshops. The findings from this study can be applied to build resilience across Canada against other climate change impacts, such as the increase in droughts.

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor

  • First-year SSAS Students Present Their Research Proposals

    As a truly unprecedented academic year comes to a close, it’s hard to believe that another cohort of SSAS students has successfully completed their first year in the program! With their course requirements now complete, these students will move on to co-op placements and beginning to work on their major research and thesis projects. On March 25th, these students made an important first step in the completion of their research by presenting their research proposals to their colleagues, including fellow cohort members and SSAS Faculty.

    This year’s cohort is taking on a variety of topics related to Sustainability Science, including Income Inequalities and Sustainable Development (Kamran Abbasov), Sustainable Diets (Shannon Ruzgys), Low Impact Development (Edward Anyan, Jillian Booth), Natural Climate Solutions (Gavin Esdale), Environmental Racism (Mikellena Nettos), Vegetation responses to Arctic Climates (Allison Clark), and Place Attachment and Well Being in the COVID-19 pandemic (Savannah Stuart).

    In addition to presenting their research proposals, the students also had the opportunity to answer questions from their fellow cohort members and SSAS faculty relating to their research topics. This was an excellent opportunity – particularly for students in Scheme B who will defend a thesis at the end of their time in the program – for the students to hear other insights on their work and demonstrate their understanding of their research topic. Scheme B student Shannon Ruzgys spoke about this experience, “I spent all year building the foundations of my research on my own and finally being able to share it with my peers and faculty was so rewarding!”

    Following the proposal presentations, Graduate Program Director Dr. Marilyne Jollineau commended the students for their efforts and expressed a keen interest in seeing the results for each individual project. Many of the students echoed this sentiment, including Mikellena Nettos who said, “the presentations were inspiring and uplifting.” Several students also spoke about the concerns they had beginning the program in an entirely online format, and how the process of developing their proposals was rewarding and exciting. Shannon Ruzgys mentioned that the virtual year meant that it was easy to feel “isolated during grad school but being able to gather online and present my research and hear about all the exciting research my peers are doing was such a wonderful experience”. Scheme A student Jillian Booth echoed these thoughts and said, “when I first started the SSAS program, I was nervous to start my MRP. However, my fears were quickly eliminated as I received immediate support from my supervisor in determining a topic that aligns with my research interests and career aspirations”.

    We are very proud of these students and are looking forward to following their research over the next few terms!

    Learn more about the 2020 SSAS Cohort on our website.

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program

  • The Brock-WWF Partnership for Freshwater Resilience

    Blog Contributor: Jillian Booth

    The St. John River, the longest in Eastern Canada, flows through a variety of landscapes along its 700 km length with its headwaters located in the province of Quebec and state of Maine and empties into the Bay of Fundy located in the province of New Brunswick (CRI, 2011). It acts as an international boundary between Canada and the USA with a population of approximately 513,000 people that are evenly distributed between rural and urban areas (Plummer et al., 2016). The Wolastoqiyik or Maliseet people, Indigenous to the St. John River valley have named the area Wolastoq or W’aslustuk meaning “beautiful and bountiful river” in the Maliseet language (Currie et al.,2020). The river and its surrounding watershed act as the economic powerhouse for New Brunswick supporting local communities through their agriculture, forestry, fishing, and energy sectors (WWF-Canada, 2020). The basin has been classified as a priority region for the Government of Canada under the Pan-Canadian approach to transforming Species at Risk conservation in Canada, as it is home to multiple species at risk and acts as a nature-based solution to climate change with its ability to store carbon from its high levels of soil carbon and forest biomass (Arabian J et al., 2019).

    In New Brunswick, spring flooding is a common occurrence and every year the entire Wolastoq/St. John River is vulnerable to two types of flooding: ice-jam flooding and open-water flooding (Fraser, 2019). Ice – jam flooding usually occurs in the areas of Edmundston, Grand Fall, Perth-Andover, and the Woodstock from ice chunks getting stuck on something while flowing down the river causing water to build up behind the ice (Fraser, 2019). Whereas open water flooding typically occurs below the Mactquac Dam in the Fredericton, Maugerville, Jemseg, and Saint John areas when the river is overwhelmed by the excess water produced by snowmelt (Fraser, 2019). Recently, a record-setting open-water flood occurred in 2018 that resulted in millions of dollars in property damage specifically in the Fredericton and Saint John regions (Cox, 2021). Increasing water levels destroyed homes, cottages, and businesses displacing 1,600 residents for months in some cases (Fraser, 2019). This flooding reoccurred in the spring of 2019 damaging homes and restricting access to certain communities due to washed-out roads raising local concerns that action needed to be taken to reduce the impacts of flooding (Cox, 2021). 

    The 5-year Brock-WWF Canada partnership for freshwater resilience was initiated in June 2019, designed to better understand how to build resilience in Canada with the increasing threats and climate change impacts on our freshwater resources (Brock University, 2021). The partnership aims to advance our understanding and promote the application of freshwater resilience and stewardship by 1) encouraging the co-creation of knowledge between researchers and practitioners and 2) identifying innovative and evidence-based approaches for management and governance (Brock University, 2019). The partnership’s initial focus is working to address the lack of communication/collaboration among actors involved in flooding planning within the Wolastoq/St. John River basin. This will be achieved not only through research but also through community engagement and events to better inform evidence-based decisions (World Wildlife Fund Canada, 2020). The lessons learned can be applied to efforts across Canada, providing a foundation for evidence-based decisions, promoting opportunities for innovation, and encouraging the use of best practices (Brock University, 2019). 

    References:

    Arabian J., Currie j., and Snider J. (2019).Wildlife Protection Assessment: A national habitat crisis. World Wildlife Fund Canada. Toronto, Canada. https://wwf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/habitat-report-english-web-53019.pdf

    Brock and WWF-Canada partnership to Address Freshwater Challenges. (2020, June 17). World Wildlife Fund Canada. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from Brock and WWF-Canada Partnership to Address Freshwater Challenges – WWF.CA

    Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI). (2011, July). The Saint John River: A State of the Environment Report. University of New Brunswick. St.+John+river+report1-min.pdf (squarespace.com)

    Cox, A. (2021, March 11). New Brunswick launches flood monitoring platform ahead of spring melt. CBC News. New Brunswick launches flood monitoring platform ahead of spring melt | CBC News

    Fraser, E. (2019, March 23). What you need to know about possible flooding in New Brunswick. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/new-brunswick-flooding-st-john-river-basin-2018-1.5051577

    Memorandum of Understanding Between World Wildlife Fund Canada and Environmental Sustainability Research Centre Brock University. 2019. May 17th. Brock University. Retrieved March 23, 2020

    Partnership for freshwater resilience. Brock University. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from Partnership for Freshwater Resilience – Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (brocku.ca)

    Plummer, R., Baird, J., Krievins, K., & Mitchell, S. (2016). Improving river health: insights into initiating collaboration in a transboundary river basin. International Journal of River Basin Management, 14(1), 119–132. https://doi.org/10.1080/15715124.2015.1080717

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Environmental Sustainability Spring and Summer Courses Available in 2021

    As the weather here in St. Catharines continues to get nicer, we can’t help but think about the Spring and Summer 2021 terms – registration opened earlier this month! If you’re interested in taking a Spring or Summer course this year, but you’re not sure where to start, read on to learn more about ENSU 2P01 and ENSU 2P02 and how to use these courses to declare a Minor in Environmental Sustainability!

    ENSU 2P01: Introduction to Environmental Sustainability is being offered in the Spring 2021 term and is taught by Christine Janzen. In this course, students will get an overview of the concepts and importance of environmental sustainability. You’ll explore the impact of various factors on the state of the environment, including human interaction, biodiversity, climate change, and you’ll learn about the implications of the current state of our environment.

    ENSU 2P02: Environmental Sustainability in Practice, also taught by Christine Janzen is being offered in the Summer 2021 term. This course examines applications of environmental sustainability, including education, communication, nature-based solutions, and more! You’ll explore how principles and concepts of environmental sustainability are applied in a variety of fields and appreciate environmental sustainability as a transdisciplinary subject of study.

    These courses are both offered entirely online and can be counted towards the Minor in Environmental Sustainability. With a Minor in Environmental Sustainability, you will gain core skills necessary for problem-solving in the modern world as businesses and governments adhere to new environmental legislation, and society adapts to a changing world. By taking the courses mentioned above, as well as a variety of credits from other disciplines, you will have the opportunity to study sustainability issues from a transdisciplinary perspective, thinking outside the traditional boundaries of your discipline, and gain practical insight into how Canada and the world is moving forward to address these issues. Past students who have taken the minor appreciate the transdisciplinary perspective, including Mikellena Nettos, who is currently pursuing her Masters in Sustainability Science. Mikellena said of the program, “Taking the Minor of Sustainability at Brock taught me the importance of caring for our planet as well as our people! I loved the program so much it changed my life path and led me to the Master of Sustainability where I am now conducting research to influence real change towards a more sustainable future”

    If you have questions about these courses, or are interested in declaring a Minor, please reach out to ensu@brocku.ca, or come visit us at the Brock Spring Open House on March 31st, 2021 from 5:00 – 6:00pm EST.

    Categories: Blog, Minor in Sustainability

  • Niagara Adapts Panel Discussion: Implementation

    Blog Contributor: Michaela Jennings

    On March 11th, 2021, the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) hosted a panel for the Sustainability Seminar Series. The panel provided an opportunity for students, municipal partners, and community members to learn from climate adaptation professionals about the successful implementation of climate adaptation actions and initiatives.

    The panel was moderated by Dr. Jessica Blythe, who leads the Niagara Adapts partnership. The three panelists were Joanna Eyquem, Director of Climate Programs, Quebec at the Intact Centre, Katie Thompson, Risk Management Official at the City of Barrie, and Jacob Porter, Climate Adaptation Coordinator at the City of Thunder Bay.

    The discussion was structured around five questions:

    • What does climate adaptation planning look like for your municipality or organization?
    • Why are municipalities the right group to implement climate adaptation actions?
    • What successes has your municipality or organization experience in implementing climate adaptation actions? And what factors led to those successes?
    • What are the main challenges your municipality or organization has experienced in implementing climate adaptation actions? What would help you overcome those barriers in the future?
    • Going forward, what do you hope to see in the municipal climate adaptation space?

    Panelist engaged in an honest discussion of both the successes and the challenges associated with implementing climate adaptation actions in Canadian municipalities. Their varying backgrounds and perspectives lead to a rich array of insights and examples on adaptation planning.

    An important theme that emerged from the panel, was that as actions, projects, and initiatives are created, implementation is key in developing a plan for how those actions will be initiated, maintained, and measured at the municipal level.

    The panelists discussed a variety of important aspects in both the planning process and implementation.  For example, the reflected on the benefits of collaborating with internal and external stakeholders as a key attribute to successful implementation strategies. The panelists also highlighted that working with community organizations, departments, and community members is an important step in successful implementation strategies. The discussion concluded with questions from the audience about measuring implementation, risk preparedness, and scale.

    Throughout the discussion the panelists highlighted resources and tools they have used in their own planning and implementation processes. The resources are beneficial in furthering an understanding of climate adaptation planning processes in Canada. Those resources are available here.

    If you missed the live event on Thursday, March 11th, a recording of the event is available on the ESRC’s YouTube channel here.

     

     

    Categories: Blog, Event, Niagara Adapts, SSAS Program, Student Contributor

  • Workshop 8: Implementation

    Blog Contributor: Michaela Jennings

    On February 18th, 2021, Niagara Adapts held its 8th workshop in a 9-workshop series. The workshop was held online via the Microsoft Teams platform, adhering to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. The focus of the workshop was “implementation”. As the 7 municipal partners are working towards the final stages in their climate adaptation planning process, implementation is a key step. It breaks down how an action, project, or initiative will be implemented in the community.

    The workshop was held for the 7 municipal partners that are participating in Niagara Adapts. The workshop began with an introduction of the two facilitators of the event from Savanta Consulting. The facilitators are experienced with climate change adaptation planning processes, and they provided valuable insights throughout their presentation.

    The presentation progressed with an introduction to implementation, using case study examples to show how it has been approached in other Canadian municipalities. The workshop highlighted the challenges to implementation, and the importance it has in creating an effective climate change adaptation plan. The examples provided insight into how implementation can be incorporated, as well as the context-specific approaches that have been used.

    The presentation continued with a walk through of “how to implement” and what to consider when moving forward with this step. They discussed resources, funding, timelines, monitoring and evaluation, and prioritization. Each municipality will have a different approach to implementing projects in their community. By understanding what is available for the project, and what may be needed, this allows for municipalities to approach implementation processes with a sense of clarity.

    The workshop included a discussion around implementation tools that can be used, and where they may be appropriate in the planning process (marketing, pilot projects, external communication, and internal communication). This discussion was then paired with a collaborative activity examining implementation tools. By working together, the attendees worked with the facilitators to discuss the advantages and disadvantages that may arise for each of the tools.

    The workshop concluded with an open discussion between the facilitators and the audience. The workshop was beneficial as it emphasized best-practices and opportunities for implementation. It was also an opportunity for the partners to evaluate their own climate adaptation planning processes and how implementation will look for their municipality. By providing them with resources and tools, this workshop was an insightful and informative event for the Niagara Adapts partnership and will be further elaborated on in the panel discussion on implementing climate change adaptation plans held on March 11, 2021.

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts

  • Panel Discussion on Implementing Climate Change Adaptation Plans

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre’s (ESRC) Sustainability Seminar Series will continue on Thursday, March 11th, 2021 at 11am EST with a panel about implementing climate change adaptation plans. We will be joined by three experienced professionals who have been an integral part of making their local communities more resilient to the effects of climate change. This event is in partnership with Niagara Adapts, one of the ESRC’s innovative partnerships that is focussed on leveraging resources and expertise to support collaborative climate change adaptation, planning, and implementation within seven municipalities in the Niagara Region. The Niagara Adapts partnership is led by Dr. Jessica Blythe, who will be the moderator for this exciting event.

    The panelists include Katie Thompson from the City of Barrie, Jacob Porter from the City of Thunder Bay, and Joanna Eyquem from the Intact Centre.

    Katie Thompson is a Risk Management Official in the Business Performance and Environmental Sustainability Group with the City of Barrie. Her focus areas include Drinking Water Source Protection, Climate Change Adaptation and, assessing corporate Environmental Obligations. She has a unique perspective on the interrelations between the science foundation, action framework, and implementation aspects of the Climate Change Adaption Plans.

    Jacob Porter is the Climate Adaptation Coordinator for the City of Thunder Bay, guiding implementation of the City’s Climate Adaptation Strategy. His work spans across emergency preparedness, asset management, and community planning; depending on collaborations across city departments, partnerships with community organizations, and engagement with city residents. Over the past year, adaptation efforts in Thunder Bay have focused on deeper recognition of the social impacts of climate events, and greater involvement in emergency response planning.

    Joanna Eyquem is a recognized expert in Climate Adaptation, Flood and Erosion Management and River Restoration, with 20 years experience both in Canada and the UK. Joanna’s focus areas at the Intact Centre include: (1) mobilizing flood-resilience for homes, new and existing communities, and commercial real estate; (2) protection and restoration of natural infrastructure to mitigate climate risk, (3) developing programs to limit risk of extreme heat; (4) promoting programs to limit wildfire risk; and (5) incorporating climate risk into institutional investing, credit rating assessments and securities disclosure.

    The Panel Discussion on Implementing Climate Change Adaptation Plans is sure to be informative and educational for all. There will also be a question period towards the end of the event to provide the audience with a chance to ask more specific questions and further engage with the panelists.

    Click here to join the live event on Thursday, March 11th at 11am. If you can’t make it, check out the ESRC’s YouTube channel which will feature the recording of the event within a week of it going live.

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts, SSAS Program

  • Building better research through community partnerships

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    On January 26th, 2020 Brock hosted a workshop called “Building better research through community partnerships”, which was the 11th event in the Building Better Research series – a collaboration between Brock’s Office of Research Services and the Library. The panelists included the following faculty and staff members:

    • Meaghan Rusnell – Director, Government and Community Engagement
    • Julie Rorison – Manager, Community Relations
    • Madelyn Law – Associate Provost, Teaching and Learning; Professor of Health Sciences
    • Sid Segalowitz – Professor Emeritus and Director, Centre for Lifespan Development Research
    • Ryan Plummer – Professor and Director, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC)

    All panelists detailed their experiences of conducting research through community partnerships, including Dr. Plummer who discussed the benefits of collaborating with the ESRC’s partners. The Centre now has over eight formalized agreements with partners such as the Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative with the Niagara Parks Commission, the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience with World Wildlife Fund-Canada, and the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab, to name a few.

    According to Dr. Plummer, here are three main benefits of working with community partners:

    • The ability to co-create knowledge in a way that honours and gives a voice to the partners in the community and bridges the gap between scientific knowledge and the needs of the local partners and communities. Dr. Plummer provided a recent example of how collaborating with partners is the key to meeting the needs of the community. He explained that the ESRC’s partners at Niagara Parks were dealing with a dramatic increase in tourism at the start of the pandemic due to the public wanting to get out of their homes and explore local greenspaces.

    Instead of having around 220,000 people visit the Niagara Glen per season, the added need for greenspaces led to over 300,000 visitors during the 2020 season. Dr. Plummer mentioned it was important to quickly pivot within the partnership to start responding to an acute community need to support people’s wellbeing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  This was possible due to a good working relationship with the partners at the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC), and they were able to create a video that showcased best practices for trail safety amid COVID-19 and beyond.

    • Every year (pre-pandemic), Master of Sustainability students go on a field trip to visit the ESRC’s community partners such as NPC, the Town of Lincoln, and Vineland, to name a few. During this trip, students have the ability to meet with partners and receive an incredible hands-on experience. This important fieldtrip can even inspire students to take on research related to the partners, which brings us to our last main benefit of engaging in community partnerships. To learn more about this engaging experience and how learning outside the classroom is beneficial for students, read this blog post.
    • Through meeting with partners and attending partnership events, thesis students within the MS program are able to look at concerns and needs that partners have and can tailor their research to address these needs. For example, Angela Mallette, a past graduate student, presented her research regarding Niagara Parks. Within two weeks of successfully defending her thesis, two Niagara Parks managers at the partnership’s bi-annual roundtable were able to implement her recommendations. Ultimately, student research related to partnerships has the power to impact hundreds of thousands of people in the community and beyond.

    All in all, engaging in community partnerships can lead to a number of impactful research projects and help our community by making a difference in the environment while also enhancing the student experience.

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Event, Innovative Partnership, Town of Lincoln