Blog

  • NPC Speaker Series Underway: A Bright Future for Stewardship in Niagara

    Blog Contributor: Lauren Patterson

    The first session of the Environmental Speaker Series was a success! On September 23, the Niagara Parks Commission in partnership with the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock University hosted their first of 3 lectures. The speakers delivered an inspiring discussion on the importance of Environmental Stewardship within the Niagara Region, and answered pressing questions from the audience.

    Brooke Kapeller, a Brock University Masters student, opened the session with an informative Story Map of her thesis “Exploring environmental stewardship in the Niagara Region of Canada: How do elements of environmental stewardship relate to success?”. Brooke’s research explores what drives success within environmental stewardships initiatives, with a specific focus on the Niagara Region. Her research will be made available to the public sometime in October.

    Following Brooke’s presentation, Dr. Ryan Plummer moderated an enlightening discussion with keynote speakers Ellen Savoia and Corey Burant of the Niagara Parks Commission. The session highlighted the vibrant history of stewardship in Niagara region and gave a glimpse into what the future holds.

    Ellen, the lead of the Environmental Planning team with NPC, oversees 1,325 hectares of Niagara Parks land. Ellen emphasized the honour and tremendous responsibility the NPC holds in preserving the natural environment of the Region and outlined how planning and policy sets the framework in which stewardship works. She shared with us the organizations focus on preservation and promotion of natural and cultural heritage, as well as the unique habitats that make prosperity and restoration in Niagara so important.

    Corey, the Program Manager of Forest Health with NPC, described the balancing act of simultaneously showcasing and preserving Niagara’s natural beauty. Corey expressed NPC’s commitment to being leaders in stewardship, and ensuring the lands are sustainably managed. According to Corey, stewardship at Niagara means being resilient and keeping the parks intact as they face threats such as climate change and invasive species. He highlighted the significance of restoration and rehabilitation, and the important role collaboration plays in making projects successful.

    The lecture left both the speakers and the audience feeling excited about NPC’s ongoing and future projects, including an Urban Forestry Management Plan, Climate Change Adaptation Plan, and the continued commitment to the recently approved Environmental Stewardship Action Plan.

    Mark your calendars for Thursday, October 28, at 7pm. Our next lecture “Ecosystem restoration challenges faced by Parks Canada”, will feature keynote speakers Tammie Dobbie and Andrew Leforet from Parks Canada.

    If you missed this session, do not fret! All Environmental Speaker Series sessions are being recorded, and you can click here to watch right now. To make sure you do not miss out on future lectures, click here to register for free and a link will be emailed to you directly.

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, SSAS Student Contributor

  • The Niagara Parks Commission Stewardship Speaker Series Returns for Fall 2021

    Blog Contributor: Lauren Patterson

    This fall, the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock University and the Niagara Parks Commission will once again be partnering to host the Environmental Speaker Series. The series consists of three, free sessions all available online. Each session will spotlight one Brock student and their research, as well as enthralling discussion from environmental professionals.

    The series will kick off this Thursday, September 23rd at 7pm, with a panel discussion on “Environmental Stewardship in Niagara”.  We will hear from Brooke Kapeller, a Brock University Masters student who will be discussing her research “Exploring environmental stewardship in the Niagara Region of Canada: How do elements of environmental stewardship relate to success?”. Our keynote panel discussion will be moderated by Dr. Ryan Plummer, Director of the ESRC and Professor of Sustainability here at Brock. Joining Dr. Plummer will be our panelists: Ellen Savoia and Corey Burant. Guided by their respective expertise in environmental planning and forest health, Ellen and Corey will discuss what it means to be Environmental Stewards in Niagara, and what we can expect for the future of environmental stewardship in the region. There will be opportunities for Q&A following the discussion.

    The second session will take place October 28th, where we will hear from Parks Canada stewards Tammie Dobbie and Andrew Leforet on “Ecosystem restoration challenges faced by Parks Canada”, as well as SSAS alumni Angela Mallette. On November 25th our topic will be “The Evolution of the International Joint Commission”, and we will be joined by keynote speakers Natalie Green from The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, and the International Joint Commission’s Rej Bejankiwar, in addition to undergraduate student Kassie Burns.

    All events will take place online and are free to attend. If you are interested in attending Environmental Speaker Series sessions, please register here, where you can sign up to receive links to join the live streams.

     

    Categories: Blog, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Event, SSAS Student Contributor

  • SSAS Student Spotlight: Mikellena Nettos’ Co-op Experience

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    After Mikellena Nettos graduated from her undergrad at Brock with a Minor in Environmental Sustainability as well as Dramatic Arts, she began her journey in the Master of Sustainability program’s co-op stream. Mikellena successfully secured a summer co-op at Canada Post Corporation in Real Estate, Facilities Management, Environment and Sustainability.

    Fun fact: She is the first Brock co-op student to work at Canada Post!

    Throughout the summer months, Mikellena has been busy working on many interesting projects, including:

    • Engaging local post office staff across the country to improve awareness and execution of environmental and sustainability responsibilities related to building maintenance.
    • Collecting, coding, and analyzing primary data to inform management decision making.
    • Successfully presenting research results and practical recommendations to the national Real Estate team and senior management.
    • Collaborating with other departments to develop and present potential solutions and a business case to improve rural recycling in Alberta, displaying active problem-solving skills and communication skills. 
    • Researching various ESG reporting software for user friendly, comprehensive waste data management purposes.

    Since Mikellena’s projects have included data analysis, she says that the Research Methods course she took in the Master of Sustainability program really helped her to organize and communicate her findings. She also added that “excel tips will become your best friend in the professional field” and that “the critical thinking skills I learned from my master’s program are very effective for problem solving in the real world”.

    In terms of how her co-op role enriched her understanding of sustainability, Mikellena states,

    “I have really learned so much about the environmental side of sustainability. For example, how important building maintenance can be, not only for the environment but also for human health. If a fuel storage tank isn’t serviced or inspected frequently and has a leak – that could significantly damage the surrounding environment and even pollute drinking water. It is very interesting to see how connected our buildings, including our homes, are to the well-being of humans and the environment.”

    Congratulations to Mikellena on securing a great co-op experience – we can’t wait to see all the great things you achieve within and beyond the Master of Sustainability program!

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, SSAS Program

  • SSAS Student Spotlight: Edward Anyan’s Co-op Experience

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    Edward Anyan began his journey in the SSAS program in September of 2020 in the co-op stream. Although the past academic year hasn’t been easy for students, Edward successfully secured a co-op placement at the City of St. Catharines as a Community, Recreation and Culture Services (CRSC) administrator.

    During his co-op, Edward has been specifically working for the Parks Design and Development Department under the Development Horticulture Technician on the following tasks:

    • Urban Tree Inventory data management.
    • Research on urban Tree Canopy measurement/assessment strategies and practices.
    • Field inspection of city planted trees
    • Tree inventory data capture and reports
    • Liaise with tree planting contractors for tree planting
    • Respond to public/resident needs relating to tree planting

    Edward explained that a workshop and a presentation he participated in as part of the Master of Sustainability program contributed to his success in his role at the City of St. Catharines.

    “Undertaking a climate change adaptation workshop has enhanced my understanding and experience in response to climate change-related issues.  My role in the department is directly related to sustainability and climate adaptation through urban forestry/greening that has a huge impact on the environment and the local economy. Additionally, a seminar presentation on geospatial technology was a refresher for me to leverage GIS in environmental sustainability solutions.”

    Throughout his enriching co-op experience, Edward has been inspired to do more work related to urban forestry.

    “The co-op has given me an insight into urban forestry which is critical for urban ecology yet not popular. I am currently considering creating a niche in that aspect of urban development given that most municipalities are now focusing on urban forestry as a climate change mitigation effort.”

    Lastly, Edward’s understanding of sustainability deepened throughout his co-op placement as it has broadened his understanding about “about how cities are investing and putting many resources to ensure sustainability is maintained amidst the growing needs of developmental projects.”

    Congratulations to Edward and all SSAS co-op students on their successful placements and we look forward to seeing all that you continue to achieve in the Master of Sustainability program and beyond!

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, SSAS Program

  • TATI Partnership Update: 2021 Lessons from the Last Year

    The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant implications to the outdoor recreation and tourism industry, as many parks and protected areas experienced significant increases in visitors as Ontarians looked locally for their recreation. As a result, the Trail Assets and Tourism Intiative (TATI) partnership, which is comprised of members from Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, the Niagara Parks Commission, and the Ontario Trails Council, focused their efforts on addressing issues relating to visitor experience and safe access to outdoor recreation spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Parks and protected areas agencies experienced significant increases in visitation due to travel limitations that saw Ontarians turn domestically for their vacationing and recreation needs. For example, the Niagara Parks Commission experienced a 43.9­­­­% increase in visitors in 2020 in comparison with the previous year. Other agencies, such as Ontario Parks, have experienced such high levels of day-use visitation in 2020 and 2021 that they have instituted a new day-use reservation policy to reduce crowding and enforce capacity limits at 17 provincial parks.   to reduce crowding and enforce capacity limits at 17 provincial parks.

    In 2020, the TATI partnership published a list of best-practice principles for visiting parks and trails during COVID-19 for the public to consider when engaging in outdoor recreation. These recommendations are still highly relevant to all visitors, as it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to a safe and enjoyable experience while protecting natural areas for future users. As parks and trails continue to experience high levels of visitation in 2021, the TATI partnership team has updated the recommendations made in 2020 to best address the current issues facing protected areas. These areas are environmentally sensitive and require the assistance from all park and trail users to ensure they remain enjoyable for generations to come.

    These guidelines are as follows:

    1. Follow current public health advice
      1. Maintain physical distancing (2 meters) from individuals outside your household and wear a mask or face covering in crowded areas where physical distancing may not be possible. Even if you have received a full vaccine series, following this recommendation is important to keep both yourself and those around you safe.
      2. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and self-isolate. Get tested and do not visit parks or trails.
      3. Follow directions relating to outdoor gathering limits and avoid crowded spaces. If you arrive at a park or trail and it is too busy, visit another location or return at an off-peak time.
    2. Be prepared.
      1. Whether visiting a park or trail for a day or a week, check the agency’s website or contact by phone to learn about how COVID-19 may have changed their operations. Due to high levels of visitation, many agencies now require reservations for all day users to avoid over-crowding, which causes damage to natural environments and impacts visitor experiences.
      2. Be prepared for limited facilities and services. Some areas may not have the capacity to offer washrooms or garbage services. It is your responsibility to be prepared to mitigate the need for these services.
    3. Follow all rules and regulations.
      1. As a result of high levels of visitation, many areas have implemented new rules and regulations to further protect parks and trails and the surrounding environment. Obey all rules and regulations regardless of whether they’re being actively enforced. Engaging in depreciative visitor behaviour harms both the environment and the ability for others to enjoy their experiences, which often results in further limitations and rules. Remember, it is your responsibility to know and follow the rules and regulations of the area you’re visiting.
    4. Be a park or trail steward.
      1. Our parks and trails serve all of us, and they need our help. Be a park or trail steward by obeying rules, following Leave No Trace principles, and reducing the overall impact of your visit wherever possible. Local parks and trails have helped people cope with the pandemic. We all must do our part to give back to the areas that have been instrumental in helping us to stay healthy during this challenging time.

    This post was written in conjunction with John Foster, a Masters student and research assistant on the Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative partnership.

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative

  • Congratulations to the Spring Class of 2021!

    While public health guidelines continue to prevent us from celebrating in person, convocation remains one of the most exciting times for the Brock community, including the ESRC. We are particularly excited this spring, as the ESRC celebrates the largest graduating class of Master of Sustainability students to date!

    On June 18th, 2021, 13 of our students will receive their Master of Sustainability (MS) degrees and move on to the next phase of their careers, whether it be the pursuit of another degree, or beginning a new job in the field. We are incredibly proud of these students, and it’s been an honour to be a part of their academic journeys!

    Nic Bruno joined the program in 2019. His previous degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto – Mississauga provided a solid foundation for his major research paper (MRP). The MRP, titled “Sustainable municipal policy, green transportation, climate adaptation and climate resiliency of built and natural environments” was supervised by Dr. Jessica Blythe. In addition to this research, Nic also completed a co-op placement with Dr. Diane Dupont at Brock University as a flood aversion research assistant.

    Abbey Faris joined the program in 2019 after graduating from Brock University with a Major in Public Health and a Minor in Environmental Sustainability. Her educational background played a significant role in her MRP, titled “Impact of the built environment on human health” and supervised by Dr. Jessica Blythe. Abbey secured a co-op position working as an assistant logistics coordinator for NASCAR.

    Pulkit Garg travelled to St. Catharines from Allahabad, India to join the program in 2019. His research was supervised by Dr. Liette Vasseur and examined opportunities for adaptation to climate change in the agricultural system in Lincoln, Ontario. Pulkit’s research proposal earned him a FOSS Student Research Award and in December 2020, he presented his completed research project at the FOSS Research Colloquium. Pulkit also presented his research at the International Conference on Sustainable Development held virtually in New York City in September of 2020. In addition to his research, Pulkit completed a co-op position as a project manager with Royal Bank of Canada and was later offered a full-time position.

    Sam Gauthier joined the program in 2019 after graduating from Nipissing University with a degree in Biology and a certificate in Forest Resource Management and Conservation. Her research was supervised by Dr. Liette Vasseur and looked at how climate change affects conservation and biodiversity. Sam secured an exciting co-op position and worked as a student inspector with Canada’s Food Inspection Agency. She is now working full time for the Ministry of Transportation as an Environmental Planning Assistant.

    Erica Harper graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Marketing, making her research interests compatible with those of Dr. Todd Green. Dr. Green supervised Erica’s MRP, titled “Corporate social responsibility and consumer behaviour”. Erica’s co-op position was with the ESRC, where she worked as a communications assistant in Spring/Summer 2020. Erica is currently working as a research assistant in the ESRC, and we are thrilled that she has chosen to be a member of our team!

    Michaela Jennings has a Bachelor of Arts and Humanities in International Development Studies from Trent University, and brought this knowledge to the Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS) program in 2019. Michaela’s research in environmental education and community development was supervised by Dr. Xavier Fazio. Michaela completed her co-op placement as a research assistant in the Cool Climate Oenology Viticulture Institute at Brock University, and later worked with Dr. Jessica Blythe as a research assistant with the ESRC’s Niagara Adapts partnership.

    Nolan Kelly joined the SSAS program in 2019 after graduating from Brock University where he majored in Sport Management and completed a Minor in Environmental Sustainability. Nolan’s interest in sports influenced his MRP, which was supervised by Dr. Jessica Blythe and titled “The impact of sports on the environment and how sports can make the transition to become environmentally sustainable”. Nolan completed his co-op position as a sales and marketing account manager with LightenCo and worked with fellow graduate Erica Harper as a research assistant with Amanda Smits in the ESRC’s Charter with Facilities Management partnership.

    Bani Maini travelled to St. Catharines from Rajasthan, India to join the SSAS program in 2019. Bani completed an independent research study about Marine OECMs that was supervised by Dr. Jessica Blythe. This independent research project influenced Bani’s final Major Research Paper, titled “Advancing marine conservation through other effective area-based conservation measures”. Bani also secured a co-op placement as the climate change coordinator with the Town of Pelham, and is currently working full-time in this role.

    Shelby McFadden joined the program after completing a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree at Trent University. Shelby worked with Dr. Ryan Plummer, who supervised Shelby’s MRP titled “Influential factors and interventions to increase recycling behaviours: a program evaluation of the Niagara Region’s residential curbside recycling program”. Shelby worked as a research assistant with the ESRC’s Charter with Facilities Management partnership and completed a co-op placement as a special projects assistant with Brock University.

    Doren Otung joined the SSAS Program in 2019 and travelled from Nigeria to begin her studies. Doren joined the Water Resilience Lab under the supervision of Dr. Julia Baird. Dr. Baird supervised Doren’s MRP titled “Can farmer networks foster a resilient agriculture?”. In addition to her research, Doren completed a co-op position as a technical content developer for the Faculty of Social Science at Brock University and worked as a research assistant with Dr. Baird in the ESRC’s partnership for Freshwater Resilience.

    April Sorenson travelled from Reno, Nevada to join the SSAS program in 2019. April’s Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from Colorado State University influenced many aspects of her research work in the SSAS program. Her research, supervised by Dr. Marilyne Jollineau was titled “What are the qualities of a sustainable city? An analysis of current sustainable urban scale rating systems”, and she completed her co-op placement as an urban forestry and green infrastructure intern with the City of Reno. April also worked as a research assistant with Dr. Jollineau in the ESRC’s Brock-Lincoln Living Lab partnership.

    Samantha Witkowski joined the SSAS program in 2018 after earning an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies from Laurentian University. Her research interests aligned with those of Dr. Ryan Plummer, who supervised Samantha’s thesis research. Samantha successfully defended her thesis, titled “An examination of stakeholder perceptions in conventional and participatory monitoring and evaluation of environmental management” on November 24th, 2020, and we are happy that Samantha is currently working as a research assistant with the ESRC.

    Jessica Zugic joined the SSAS program in 2018 after graduating from Brock University’s Concurrent Education program with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Jessica’s undergraduate and graduate thesis research was supervised by Dr. Michael Pisaric. Jessica presented her research at several conferences throughout her time in the SSAS program, with her most recent presentation taking place virtually at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly on April 27th, 2021. She successfully defended her thesis, titled “Assessing the impacts of variable retention harvesting (VRH) and climate change on carbon sequestration and growth in a red pine (Pinus resinosa) plantation, southern Ontario, Canada” on April 12th, 2021. Jessica was also named as the recipient of the Distinguished Graduate Student Award-Sustainability. This award is given to the student who achieves the highest average in their program.

    In addition to these 13 SSAS graduates, we would also like to extend our sincere congratulations to the 17 undergraduate students who will be graduating with a Minor in Environmental Sustainability. We are incredibly proud of these students and look forward to seeing where they go and what they do next!

    We created a special video message for our graduates from their supervisors, Graduate Program Director, and ESRC Director. You can watch this message on our Youtube channel here.

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program

  • The ESRC is Launching a Certificate in Leadership in Environmental Sustainability

    Our society and our environment are rapidly evolving and our student, municipal, and organizational leaders must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to implement sustainable environmental changes for a brighter, more equitable future. To meet this important need, The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre is developing and will be launching a non-credit certificate in Leadership in Environmental Sustainability that will serve as a professional development opportunity for people within the Niagara Region and beyond.

    This completely online certificate program will equip individuals with knowledge about environmental sustainability and advanced competencies required to become future change agents. What is unique about this certificate is that learners will be able to tailor their experience based on their current and desired skills and knowledge to meet their professional development goals.

    If this certificate sounds like it may be of interest to you, we would greatly appreciate receiving your input on what is important to you in terms of course topics, duration, and course delivery methods.

    As creating content that is of interest to potential learners is paramount, this brief questionnaire aims to gain insights into your professional development or educational needs related to sustainability, leadership, and the environment.

    To thank you for filling out the questionnaire, you will have the chance to register to be part of a draw to win a $150 gift card to spend at your favourite local business. We look forward to launching this innovative certificate and are grateful for your input!

    To learn more about this certificate program please click here.

    Categories: Blog

  • Encouraging Master of Sustainability Student Participation in Conferences

    Once per term, the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre offers a travel award to assist Master of Sustainability students who wish to present their research at conferences with expenses, such as conference registration fees. This term, two SSAS students received the award and presented at two different online conferences before they complete their studies.

    Pulkit Garg (second from bottom left row) presents his research at the FOSS Research Colloquium.

    Pulkit Garg presented at Brock University’s Faculty of Social Sciences Research Colloquium in December 2020. His presentation, “Reviewing the Options for the Agricultural Sector to Adapt to Climate Change: Case Study of the Niagara Region, ON” consisted of MRP research he completed in the SSAS program under the supervision of Dr. Liette Vasseur. This was the second conference Pulkit has participated in, with the first being the International Conference on Sustainable Development that was held virtually in New York City in September 2020.

    Pulkit said of his presentation at the colloquium, “I couldn’t have asked for a better learning experience during this pandemic. The colloquium gave me an ideal platform where I could present my findings and lend impetus to my work while learning from other presenters in the process”. He also described “the feeling of pride and honour I experienced in representing my supervisor, the sustainability program and the ecology lab” as a highlight of the experience.

    Jessica Zugic presents her research at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly.

    At the end of April, Jessica Zugic presented her research at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly. The conference took place during the last two weeks of April, with Jessica’s presentation session taking place on April 27th, 2021. Jessica’s presentation about the short-term impacts of a partial harvesting technique on carbon sequestration and growth of a red pine plantation in southern Ontario, was based on thesis research she completed (and successfully defended) under the supervision of Dr. Michael Pisaric. This was Jessica’s fourth conference during her time in the SSAS program.

    Both Jessica and Pulkit mentioned the positive influence the SSAS program had as they prepared for their presentations. Jessica mentioned the weekly emails sent by the SSAS program as being influential in her decision to attend this conference, and added, “The SSAS program has always promoted different conferences and meetings that students could attend, thus encouraging students to present their research and get involved in the academic community”. Pulkit echoed these statements and added “the blend of field projects coupled with course work [in the SSAS program] taught me resilience and the importance of openness to feedback and continuous learning, along with research/analytical capabilities”.

    We are very proud of these students, both of whom will be graduating from the SSAS program in June 2021.

    Categories: Applied Research, Blog, Conferences, SSAS Program

  • Earth Day: Robyn Bourgeois, Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement at Brock

    Blog Contributors: Savannah Stuart and Allison Clark

    On Earth Day especially, we must look to and honor Indigenous People’s traditional knowledge, ways of knowing, and relationship with the land. Indigenous Peoples were the first stewards of this land and far before colonization, they lived sustainably and in harmony with the land and continue to do so. As the climate crisis unfolds, people across the world are attempting to understand what sustainability truly means and how we can shift our societies towards more sustainable ways of living. There is much that can be learned from Indigenous Peoples, and their voices must be lifted and followed. This Earth Day, the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) asked Dr. Robyn Bourgeois, Vice-Provost Indigenous Engagement and Associate Professor for the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies, to present her work surrounding the intersection of environmental and social justice.

    Preceding Dr. Bourgeois’ talk was a presentation from a group of undergraduate students taking part in a directed readings course. As Applied Health Science students, they focused their course on decolonizing health and cultural safety. The students created an experiential learning experience, where they were able to engage with Indigenous communities and Elders. The students built their own learning objectives and course culture which revolved around the “four R’s”: respect, responsibility, reciprocity, and relationships. These students found that the relationships they formed together and with Elders, enhanced their understanding of Indigenous issues in Canada, while also allowing them to take part in a transformative learning experience.

    Dr. Bourgeois continued the Earth Day event with a presentation on the intersection between violence against the environment and violence against Indigenous women. She began with a welcoming song from the Mi’kmaq Territory in Nova Scotia, which helped create a safe space for the heavy discussion that was to follow. Dr. Bourgeois is a mixed-race Cree woman and a professor within the department of Women and Gender Studies at Brock. She studies Indigenous feminism, violence against Indigenous women and girls, and Indigenous women’s political activism and leadership.

    Using traditional Indigenous knowledge, Dr. Bourgeois described how Indigenous women face dangers associated with colonialism, systemic racism, and sexism. One perspective that may be new to many is how the environment is related to these issues. Meaningfully addressing gender-based violence offers a resilient pathway to solve the genocidal climate change issue we are facing. As Dr. Bourgeois said in her presentation, “people will not respect the land until they respect women”, reminding us that environmental issues and Indigenous issues are very much connected and should be addressed together.

    For decades, people have been requesting investigations into missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The “Highway of Tears”, a remote highway in northern British Columbia, has been the location of many missing and murdered Indigenous women, beginning in the 1970s. This highway is the gateway to much of northern British Columbia’s extractive industries. Only recently, this highway was provided with secure cellphone service. Moreover, those following Indigenous rights and recent pipeline protests may be familiar with red dresses hung throughout sites of proposed developments. These red dresses pay tribute to missing and murdered Indigenous women and act as a reminder that the extraction of natural resources has been associated with increased violence and harm against Indigenous women.

    Social justice issues can transcend boundaries and manifest in both physical and non-physical ways. Dr. Bourgeois explained that colonialism is no exception, and pulling from examples of her own experiences, informed the audience on how harmful conditioned colonial perspectives influence the way in which Indigenous women are treated in society.

    To begin addressing gender-based violence and environmental violence, further awareness and education is needed.  At the end of her presentation, the audience asked Dr. Bourgeois for additional resources to further educate themselves and raise awareness of the issues she discussed. This list will be provided in the coming weeks on our blog and on our social media channels. To watch Dr. Bourgeois’ talk, please click here.

    Categories: Blog, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Event, SSAS Student Contributor, Uncategorised

  • First Year Reflection

    Blog Contributor: Savannah Stuart

    As our first year in the Master of Sustainability Science and Society program (SSAS) comes to a close, it offers time to reflect. My fellow classmates and I certainly did not envision our first year of graduate school to be amidst a global pandemic. This tumultuous crisis created many changes to our learning and research and presented us with new challenges. It truly tested our abilities to be creative and problem solve, abilities which are necessary to being a sustainability scientist.

    Through it all, there is absolutely no other way that I would have wanted to spend this past year. The program and our professors did a tremendous job of communicating with students and advocating for student’s wellbeing during a difficult time, which I feel much gratitude for. Our classes were rich in content and thought-provoking discussion, and our small class size enabled us to form strong connections and friendships.

    The culture created in each of our classes allowed for open discussion, where each person’s perspective was listened to and valued. This is a truly incredible aspect of this program, and aids student’s learning and absorption of typically heavy and hard to discuss topics such as climate change. Our classes pushed us to challenge our views, integrate new perspectives and ways of knowing, and taught us how to become stronger critical thinkers and communicators.

    My perspective and understanding of sustainability science have grown and expanded throughout this program. I went into this program with the perspective that in transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research, disciplines pertained only to academic disciplines. This program has proven to me that I was wrong; transdisciplinary work often takes place across fields in academia, industry, and public sectors, thus proving a practical feature of research and literature in sustainability science. I believe the ESRC demonstrates this beautifully through their community partnerships. By working across academic, industry, and public disciplines, one is ensuring that knowledge transfer is happening at a greater scale and speed, as the research informs practical use on the ground.

    I was able to observe work completed within one of Brock’s community partnerships with the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) through my year-long research assistantship. The research assistantship offered through the SSAS program enriched my academic learning and allowed me to develop transferable skills and gain professional experience. Additionally, I saw the incredible and important work that can be done in sustainability science when academic institutions develop community partnerships.

    Through this program, I now have a greater understanding of the holistic approach that sustainability research offers. In working with my supervisor on my research, I have been reminded to look at the project from multiple lenses and consider the contribution it could make to the research field and beyond. Sustainability science inherently requests this of us, tackling timely and novel global issues, and I am looking forward to continuing my learning experience in the second year of this program.

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