Co-Op

  • Panel Discussion: Exploring Careers in Sustainability

    On January 21st at 11AM, The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre’s Sustainability Seminar Series will continue with a panel discussion focused on exploring careers in the field of sustainability. This panel will be moderated by Marilyne Jollineau and will consist of four professionals that will share their experiences navigating the transition from graduate school into their current fields, how their co-op positions helped facilitate the transition, the key skills that have been the most helpful in their roles, and the challenges or opportunities they faced throughout their journey from graduate student to where they are today.

    The panelists include three SSAS alumni: Leaya Amey, Kelsey Scarfone, and Nicholas Fischer.

    Leaya Amey

    Leaya Amey graduated from the SSAS program in 2019 and is currently a Sustainability Reporting Specialist at Maple Leaf Foods Inc. In her role, Leaya leads the development of the Annual Sustainability Report and all communications related to the company’s sustainability performance to its key stakeholders through various channels.

     

     

     

     

     

    Kelsey Scarfone

    Kelsey Scarfone graduated from the SSAS program in 2017 and is now a Policy & Campaign Manager at Nature Canada, one of Canada’s oldest national nature charities. Through her role, Kelsey advances conservation across the country by advocating for the expansion of protected areas for lands, freshwater, and the oceans.

     

     

     

     

     

    Nicholas Fischer

    Nicholas Fischer graduated from the SSAS program in 2018 and is working at Conservation Ontario as a Policy & Planning Officer. Nicholas’ work focusses on policy subject areas that may impact conservation authority business, including: Integrated Watershed Management, Land Use Planning, Endangered Species, Water Quantity and Quality Management/Protection, and Environmental Assessment.

     

     

     

     

     

    Kara Renaud

    The panel will also include Kara Renaud who is the Supervisor of Career Education at Brock. Kara is a graduate from the Master of Education Program at Brock and as Supervisor of Career Education, Kara oversees the staffing and operations of CareerZone and supports the career development of students through 1:1 consultations and workshops.

     

     

     

     

     

    This panel will be extremely informative for anyone looking to secure a co-op or a full-time job in the field of sustainability and is definitely an event you do not want to miss! Join us live on January 21st at 11AM to learn more about working in sustainability and receive valuable advice from SSAS graduates by clicking this link.

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, SSAS Program

  • Interview with SSAS Co-op Students

    Our Master of Sustainability students have been hard at work during the summer and fall terms to complete their co-ops and major research papers. In this blog post, we interview four students who have either completed their co-op or are expected to complete it in the coming weeks. They will introduce their respective roles, responsibilities, how their courses in the SSAS program contributed to their success throughout their co-op placements, as well as how their role enriched their understanding of sustainability. The featured students are Pulkit Garg, Samantha Gauthier, Erica Harper, and Michaela Jennings and they will provide you with an idea of the various co-op roles available for Master of Sustainability candidates.

    Pulkit Garg

    Your title and the company you work for: ​Project Manager, Co-op at RBC

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? As the lead project manager for a regulatory project to serve Seniors (ages: 60+), I fulfilled a wide array of responsibilities including:

    • Leading and overseeing all project activities throughout the term
    • Developing and defining project deliverables
    • Building the project schedule, implementation plan, assessing business requirements, and conducting project reviews
    • Identifying and resolving project issues and risks
    • Determining when and how to escalate issues accordingly
    • Establishing and maintaining strong relationships with Sponsors, Senior Business Leads, third-party vendors, and other core members to meet project deliverables
    • Providing ongoing support – generating alternative solutions to the initially proposed recommendation when issues arise

    How did your course work in the Master of Sustainability program contribute to the success you experienced in your co-op role? The SSAS program has been pivotal to the success of my co-op because of its transdisciplinary and experiential nature involving complex problem solving, teamwork, and leadership. More importantly, the course on Project Management during the Winter 2020 term (SSAS 5P03) played a key role in my success at RBC as it provided a first-hand PM experience through a course consulting project, where we were tasked with addressing Lincoln’s irrigation concerns. Finally, my Masters’ research project (MRP) has taught me resilience and the importance of openness to feedback and continuous learning, along with research/analytical capabilities.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer that you hope to bring into your career? It is okay to feel uncomfortable and it is okay to fail. The important thing is to learn continuously and be open to feedback.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? ​My Co-op helped me to move out of the myopic view of sustainability that often gets regarded as “environmental sustainability”. Through a regulatory project aimed at improving banking services and safeguarding one of the most vulnerable segments of our society (seniors), I could leverage my sustainability background to improve the social and economic sustainability at a macro scale. My co-op also helped me to realize the important role that corporates (and specifically banks) can play in improving the sustainability in Canada.

    Sam Gauthier

    Your title and the company you work for: This summer, my placement as a survey student and inspector took place at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? During my placement I was responsible for two different surveys. The first survey was looking for invasive pests, such as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA). This took me to many beautiful places in the forests surrounding the Niagara region, and I even got to explore many of the local waterfalls. The second survey I was responsible for was looking at the peach and plum orchards sampling trees for Plum Pox Virus (PPV).

    How did your work relate to sustainability? Both of these surveys relate to sustainability through the health of ecosystems and of the people of Niagara. The spread of pests and viruses such as both the HWA and PPV can have detrimental effects to ecosystems, people, and even the economy. By monitoring these issues and managing outbreaks it allows us to maintain healthy environments and control future outbreaks.

    How did being a student in the SSAS program contribute to your success in your co-op role? Being a student in the SSAS program has given me the skills to be able to adapt to new situations. This co-op placement was unfamiliar to me but being a student in the SSAS program taught me how to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to adapt to new roles and work through tasks that are unfamiliar to me.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer that you hope to bring into your career? One thing that I took away from my co-op in relation to my career is to be open minded when looking for future job prospects. My co-op role was in a field that I am not familiar with (agriculture), but I learnt a lot and really enjoyed my time there. It will allow me to be more flexible when looking and applying for future jobs.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? My co-op role allowed me to enrich my understanding of sustainability through a different lens. It showed me that sustainability is used in many positions and that the opportunities are endless. This showed me that sustainability is a growing field and is needed in all industries in order to be successful.

     

    Erica Harper

    Erica Harper

    Your title and the company you work for: Sustainability Communications Specialist, The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre – Brock University

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? As a Sustainability Communications Specialist, I have a wide variety of responsibilities. For example, I am responsible for developing email, blog, and social media communications on behalf of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. These communications are sent to SSAS students, our community partners, as well as guest speakers for the virtual events that we host. Since I have marketing background, I have been involved in advertising the SSAS program through social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. One project that I’ve been working on is developing a “best practices” document for stakeholder communication during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    How did your course work in the Master of Sustainability program contribute to the success you experienced in your co-op role? My course work, specifically what I learned through my MRP, Foundations of Sustainability Science (SSAS 5P01), and Climate Change Adaptation (SSAS 5P12), has helped me to communicate complex topics in accessible language. These courses taught me how to write in a way that is effective and appropriate for the target audience, which is an essential skill in any communications role. Thanks to the courses I took in my first year of my master’s program, I am confident in my abilities to successfully tailor my communications about upcoming events, social media campaigns, and “best practices” in an online world to a wide variety of people.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer that you hope to bring into your career? Throughout this co-op (and this entire year), I learned that it’s important to plan but it’s also important to go with the flow when your plan does not materialise. I have always been someone who likes to know exactly what will happen at a given event or meeting but completing my co-op during a global pandemic has changed my perspective. I am now an even more adaptable colleague who can rapidly shift my plan on the spot depending on changing situations within and outside the organization. I’m excited about bringing my skills of adaptability and problem-solving that I have developed through this experience into my career moving forward.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? My co-op role is directly related to implementing environmental sustainability at the local and community levels, which was very rewarding for me. It enriched my understanding of sustainability by providing me with the opportunities to connect with professionals in the field of sustainability through networking and attending conferences such as one hosted by the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). These experiences allowed me to gain a more well-rounded appreciation for sustainability and how I can affect change at the local, governmental, and organizational levels.

    Michaela Jennings

    Michaela Jennings

    Your title and the company you work for: Research Assistant, Environmental Sustainability Resource Centre- Niagara Adapts

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? I have been working with the partners to help them in creating their Climate Change Adaptation plans, which will be implemented in their community. My tasks include, providing feedback, research materials, drafts, templates, and assisting in creating materials for the workshops Niagara Adapts provides for their partners. In this position I have also been working with the partners and the Brock Team to create a stakeholder engagement piece. This will be able to provide the partners to engage with their community and staff in order help them in the planning process.

    How did your course work in the Master of Sustainability program contribute to the success you experienced in your co-op role? Many of my courses, including my MRP term over the summer, have been useful in providing me with an understanding of the different elements of sustainability and society, but also the methods and tools that are useful. My role has been greatly impacted by what I had learnt in 5P12 Climate Change Adaptation and Transformation. This course provided the groundwork and the hands-on experience that introduced us to creating a municipal plan. This course, paired with the others in the program, have allowed for me to expand on what I learnt and apply it in real-world settings.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer (Fall) that you hope to bring into your career? I have learned that sometimes things do not go according to plan, and you have to be adaptable and be able to think of solutions. This is beneficial for me in my future career because I will have developed stronger problem-solving skills, which allow for me to look at situations a bit differently, and will it be beneficial in any role.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? My co-op has allowed for me to be engaged in a variety of approaches to sustainability. From academic, political, and a consulting point of view. Each has increased my understanding of a different element of sustainability, and primarily the real-world possibilities that exist beyond the classroom.

     

    As you can see, since the students in our Master of Sustainability program have such a diverse educational background, there are a wide variety of co-op roles available for them in fields such as banking, education, and ecology. To learn more about the Master of Sustainability program at Brock, click here.

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, Niagara Adapts, SSAS Program, Sustainability at Brock

  • Summer 2019 SSAS Student Spotlights

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

     

    Jocelyn Baker, Master of Sustainability Candidate.

    We wanted to check in with our SSAS Students to see how their co-op work terms were going this summer, and what exactly it is that they were up to. In their own words, here is what they are doing!

     

    For her co-op work term this summer, Masters of Sustainability Candidate Jocelyn Baker is working with the Niagara Restoration Council in collaboration with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority on the finalization of the procedural process for securing a global wetland designation for the Niagara River Corridor called a Ramsar designation.

     

     

    A call for photos of the Lincoln Shoreline from Meredith DeCock, Master of Sustainability Candidate.

    Master of Sustainability Candidate Meredith DeCock is in the thesis stream of the program and is spending her summer working on her thesis research and data collection. “My name is Meredith DeCock. My thesis research is focused on using historical photographs to help us tell the story of the evolution of the Lincoln coastline over time. I have made a few trips out to the shoreline to get a better sense of the system. The other day I went out to 16 Mile Creek with a local resident Brian Jaworsky, who photographed our kayak trip. The shoreline analysis will reveal areas and time frames of the shoreline where there was a higher change rate. From there I will look at climatic and non-climatic data to help provide a possible explanation of why some of these changes may have occurred. In addition, I am just getting ready to launch my call for photographs to the public! This is an opportunity for the community to participate in the research project by submitting historical photographs of the shoreline that I will then replicate to create photograph comparisons along the shoreline.“

     

     

    Master of Sustainability Candidate, Connor Thompson, pictured left.

    For Master of Sustainability Candidate Connor Thompson this summer has included a work placement in Toronto with the Great Canadian Shore Cleanup. “I’m a co-op student working as an Educator with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a national conservation partnership by Ocean Wise and WWF-Canada. My primary job is to engage in outreach at local events. We’ve set up tables, and in one case gave a speech, at farmers markets, delivered programming to youth summer camps, and I’m on my way down to West Virginia to present and facilitate discussion at World Scout Jamboree. We’ve been told that there will be around 50,000 Scouts age 14-17 from around the world in attendance.” – Connor Thompson

     

     

    Master of Sustainability Candidate, Emma Baker.

    Another Master of Sustainability Candidate, Emma Baker, was successful in securing a unique co-op experience in Hamilton. “My name is Emma Baker. My research is in urban water resilience and policy, but currently I am in co-op as the Camp Director at the Royal Botanical Gardens Discovery Camp in Hamilton, Ontario. The RBG Discovery camp is a nature-based camp for children ages 3-15, where we see approximately 1,800 campers through the summer. We emphasize experiential, outdoor learning and write our programs to focus on various elements of environmental education, biodiversity and conservation. Some of our weekly themes include dendrology, ethology, geology and ornithology as well as developmental aspects of leadership, communication and creativity. I absolutely love the time I have spent at camp with the campers and staff and think the RBG’s mission,connecting people, plants and place for the purpose of nurturing and preserving healthy growing life on our planet,perfectly aligns with why I am pursuing further education.”

     

     

    Master of Sustainability Candidate, Jessica Zugic, completing field work.

    Lastly, summer for Master of Sustainability Candidate Jessica Zugic has included thesis research. Jessica recently completed her field work at a red pine plantation in the St. Williams Conservation Reserve, where she and several field assistants collected tree core samples from 600 trees. The goal of this research is to determine how carbon sequestration has changed over time as well as in response to a harvesting technique called variable retention harvesting. Currently, she is working to process and analyze these cores in Brock’s Water and Environment Lab under the supervision of Dr. Michael Pisaric.

     

     

     

     

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, Experiential Education, SSAS Program, Student Contributor

  • Student researcher explores future of electric buses in Canada

    Master’s student Tasnuva Afreen (right) and her supervisor, Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Christopher Fullerton (left), stand in front of a demonstration electric bus displayed at a conference. Afreen and Fullerton, along with the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium, set up an internship with the non-profit funding agency Mitacs for Afreen to research the adoption of electric buses across Canada.

     

    It’s a simple, logical way to cut down on air and noise pollution.

    Electric buses don’t emit carbon or use fossil fuels, are low cost to maintain and, by the silent way they operate, reduce noise pollution compared to conventional buses.

    But replacing current buses with electricity-powered ones is easier said than done, says master’s student Tasnuva Afreen.

    Afreen recently wrapped up an eight-month internship with the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) to collect and interpret information related to transit authorities’ transition to electric buses.

    “Now we’re trying to connect the dots,” says Afreen, who is in Brock’s Sustainability Science and Society program. “We hope to bring out what Canadians think of electric buses and identify the main barriers to bringing electric buses to transit authorities’ fleets.”

    Afreen, Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Christopher Fullerton and CUTRIC created the internship through the not-for-profit national research organization Mitacs.

    Mitacs partners with academics, private industry and governments to conduct research and training programs related to industrial and social innovation. The organization funds a number of research projects at Brock University.

    During her internship, Afreen organized consultations with industry representatives, transit authorities, government officials and academic researchers.

    She and her CUTRIC colleagues asked participants a series of questions about transit authorities’ experiences and challenges of experimenting with electric buses and the knowledge they need to acquire and integrate hydrogen fuel cell vehicles into their fleets.

    Afreen also asked transit riders to share their opinions on and experiences with electric buses.

    She then transcribed the consultation sessions and analyzed the comments. Afreen also gathered information on how to test electric buses in nine municipalities that expressed interest in becoming demonstration trial sites.

    Although she and Fullerton are still analyzing the data, Afreen says her preliminary results show that there’s much interest in putting electric buses on the road.

    But there are a number of barriers to overcome, she says.

    “Municipalities have to redesign their infrastructure to provide electric lines so that buses can recharge very quickly,” says Afreen. “Also, the upfront expense is huge — a lot of transit agencies don’t have the money in their pocket to go for this.”

    Fullerton, Afreen’s supervisor, says the research she conducted will lay the groundwork for CUTRIC’s efforts to encourage the adoption of electric buses across Canada.

    “While it has already demonstrated clear environmental, social and economic benefits in other parts of the world, electric bus technology is still relatively new and adopting it represents a major funding commitment,” says Fullerton.

    “Public transit agencies and other stakeholders, such as the various levels of government that provide subsidies for transit infrastructure, want to make sure that the technology is reliable and that their money is well spent,” he says, adding that Afreen’s work helps identify stakeholders’ concerns and information needs.

    Afreen will share her Mitacs-supported internship experience at Brock’s Shift Conference Tuesday, April 30 and the Launch Forum Wednesday, May 1. Mitacs Director Rebecca Bourque and Office of Research Services staff will be join Afreen at Launch in the 10 to 11:30 a.m. session in the Cairns Atrium to explore how faculty member and graduate student teams can navigate Mitacs internship opportunities.

    “Mitacs internships offer graduate students a valuable experience working with industry or community organizations,” says Industry Liaison and Partnership Officer Iva Bruhova. “It is a chance to apply their research skills and gain employment-ready skills.”

    In addition to the Mitacs session, the Launch event offers two other sessions on how faculty and staff can support graduate students through designing individual development plans.

    For more information, contact ibruhova@brocku.ca or kperry@brocku.ca

    Categories: Applied Research, Co-Op, Experiential Education, SSAS Program

  • Meet SSAS Alumnus: Nicholas Fischer

    Blog Contributor: Meredith DeCock

    For our first instalment of the ‘Meet SSAS Alumni’ series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicholas Fischer, a former Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS) master’s student who entered the program in September of 2016. As a current student in the program, it was a pleasure to hear about where he came from, his time in the program, and what he is up to now.

    Nick Fisher

    Photo: Nicholas Fisher, SSAS Alumnus who is now working as a Policy and Planning Officer for Conservation Ontario.

    Q1: What path did you take to end up in the Brock SSAS Master’s Program?

    I decided to attend Trent University for International Development Studies and Political Studies. I really wanted to take the opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary field of education, which broadened my understanding of the social, economic, and political dynamics of our modern world. In my third year, I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Ecuador, and I jumped on it! While our first semester was regular classes, the second involved an intensive four-month placement with a local agency. Luckily, I was accepted to work with an incredible organization named Kallari (Kay-yar-ri) (best chocolate of my life, Google them!). Deep in the Amazon, I worked with local communities who participated in a cooperative-structured chocolate company and I received a great education in polyculture crops, community sustainability, effective resource management and overall respect for shared natural systems. Upon my return to Trent for my fourth year, I made sure to fill my timetable with as many environmental courses as I could to further develop my knowledge and passion for the sector. The SSAS program at Brock seemed like a natural next step to further develop my knowledge and passion for the environmental sector in an interdisciplinary setting.

    Q2: What stream of the SSAS program did you complete and what was the focus of your MRP or Thesis?

    I decided to enter the Co-op and Major Research Paper option at Brock. It is hard enough for a young graduate out of school to be competitive in the environmental field, so I knew I wanted to take advantage of the work experience during my education. As for my MRP, I was lucky enough to work with Dr. Tim Heinmiller and Dr. Marilyne Jollineau. With Dr. Heinmiller’s guidance, we settled on assessing the impacts of the Greenbelt Plan to the Niagara Region agricultural community and support network. I have always enjoyed local advocacy work and wanted my MRP to be reflective of my time in Niagara, hence focussing the impact assessment to the Region. I set out to identify key impacts or barriers posed to the agricultural community in Niagara as a result of the Greenbelt legislation and used my project as a means to identify potential areas of improvement to future iterations of the Plan to protect the agricultural industry, a cornerstone in many rural economies. Both Dr. Heinmiller and Dr. Jollineau were incredible mentors to me throughout the process. Both encouraged me to use completely new methods of analysis for my project and provided me with the resources I needed to succeed.

    Q3: How would you describe your overall experience in the SSAS Master’s Program at Brock? And is there a particular highlight that comes to mind during your time in the program?

    I would say my overall experience in the SSAS program at Brock was positive, although challenging at times. The incredible nature of an interdisciplinary program is that you are exposed to members of your cohort who come from vastly different educational backgrounds. This diverse mix allows you to have some really interesting conversations and address environmental issues from an array of angles, but also poses challenges when you are asked to work in a group setting. Of course, this is a mirror to the realities of the workforce, so I came to appreciate the practical application of this style of education. There were many highlights during my time with the SSAS program; however, the one in particular which stands out is being able to present my Three Minute Thesis in from of the staff and students of the ESRC. In the MRP stream, you don’t defend your final body of work, so the 3MT gave me a small taste of an academic defense. Don’t get me wrong, it was the most vulnerable I had felt during my whole time at Brock since I was putting my research out in the open for criticism and comments, but at the end I was so proud of how it went.

    Q4: What is your current job? Please provide a job description of what you get to do in your current role.

    I currently work at Conservation Ontario as a Policy and Planning Officer, and I am absolutely loving it! I have been in my position for 8 months now and have learned so much along the way. Conservation Ontario is a not-for-profit environmental association which represents Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities. In my capacity, I am responsible for advocating on behalf of the Conservation Authorities on all applicable provincial proposals, such as those related to Climate Change, Development, Provincial Growth, Drinking Water, Great Lakes Protection, and Endangered Species and Fisheries. I work with Conservation Authorities to develop key messaging to the province to ensure that the core mandate (to ensure the conservation, restoration and responsible management of Ontario’s water, land and natural habitats) can be effectively achieved. In addition, I work with Conservation Authorities to address questions related to our Class Environmental Assessment process and represent Conservation Ontario at a number of conferences and on provincial working groups. The most interesting thing about my job is that I get to work alongside some of the brightest people in the environmental sector who are challenged with balancing population growth with protection for natural resources and drinking water across Ontario.

    Q5: How do you feel the SSAS program helped prepare you for this position?

    Aside from the interdisciplinary setting which I already spoke to, my co-op placement is most likely largely responsible for my success in this new role. I was fortunate enough to complete my work placement with the Ministry of Transportation’s Environmental Policy Office in St. Catharines. There, I worked on files related to Environmental Assessment reform, and assisted on a number of other projects and initiatives, such as the provincial biodiversity strategy and road ecology. Much like my team now, the team with the MTO needed to incorporate planning decisions into their policy work, which allowed me to gain an understanding of the interrelated nature of the two fields. I will always be thankful to the SSAS program for this opportunity because, not only was able to apply my education in a practical context, but I have maintained some amazing professional and personal relationships with the staff from my co-op placement.

     

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, Experiential Education, SSAS Alumni Contributor, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Reflections on my summer at the ESRC

    Blog Contributor: Kaitlin James

    ESRC Summer Students at the CUB

    Photo: Scott Johnstone, AVP Facilities Management with ESRC summer interns Kaitlin James, Shanen D’Souza, Shelby McFadden

    This summer I had the pleasure of working as a summer intern at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. I am super excited and proud of all of the work we’ve accomplished thus far and feel as though myself and the other interns created documents and reports that will be of great assistance to the Research Assistants in the fall when continuing to develop Sustainability at Brock.

    This experience has really helped solidify some of the ideas I had in terms of next steps in my career and academics. I’ve been interested in environmental sustainability for as long as I can remember, but a real-life experience in the field has really been beneficial for me.

    In April of this year, I decided to declare a minor in environmental sustainability to complement my major in Public Health. The two really do go hand in hand, and impact each other in more ways than many people realize! What a better way to start my path in sustainability than by immersing myself in sustainability all summer.

    This summer, myself and the other interns helped create several reports, plans and documents, whilst conducting background research in different areas of sustainability. I really got to immerse myself in all things sustainability, examining areas such as communications, sustainability indicators and rating systems, and helped collect information on Brock’s current state of sustainability on campus which was really interesting—In fact, I actually learnt a lot about initiatives that are ongoing that I’ve never even heard of in my four years at Brock!

    Overall, it was a great experience and allowed me to meet and work with some amazing people and researchers! I definitely appreciate the opportunity I was given and am glad I took it! The Charter allowed for what I think is some great progress towards a more sustainable Brock! I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for what is yet to come in terms of sustainability during my last semesters here at Brock this year!

     

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Lessons in Economic Development with the BL-LL

    Blog Contributor: Ben House

    Benjamin House

    Photo: Ben House, current Master of Sustainability student and summer intern at the Town of Lincoln

    Over the past two months of our co-op placement with the Town of Lincoln, fellow co-worker Zach MacMillan and myself have been working on the preliminary stages of the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab Needs Assessment project focused on improving community-wide sustainability. While this project serves as the backbone and central focus of our co-op work term, Zach and I are lucky to be a part of several “side-projects” occurring throughout the office. Thus far, the projects have helped bring an enjoyable level of variety to the job and have given us a unique glimpse into the wide-range of disciplines and departments covered in municipal work.

    I have personally been lucky enough to work with Lincoln’s Economic Development Officer, Paul Di Ianni, on a variety of projects currently underway. I was first introduced to Paul during winter term in our “SSAS 5PO3” Project Management Course where we collaboratively worked to map some of the Town’s key economic assets and define their contribution to community sustainability. In this regard, the SSAS 5PO3 class has really served as a helpful transition into the work term for Zach and myself. The class provided us with a tremendous amount of foundational knowledge pertaining to the Town’s operational climate and helped to introduce us to some of the analytical tools we would be using on the job. Furthermore, it helped us establish relationships with some of our future colleagues and mentors working in Lincoln which has made for an enjoyable entrance into the workplace.

    With my recently established background knowledge of Lincoln’s economic climate, Paul has kindly taken me “under his wing” and has begun to include me in a variety of ongoing projects within his department. Most recently, I have been researching Community Energy Plans (CIP) which are essentially long-term plans aimed at improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging sustainable energy solutions on a community-wide scale. Specifically, I have been tasked with providing information regarding the policy development necessary to support such a plan, as well as potential financial tools and funding opportunities that will aid in its successful implementation. I recently presented this information to Paul and Gillian Harris, Manager of Environmental Services, and it is likely that continued discussions regarding the development of an energy plan will be taken to council.

    In addition to expanding my knowledge of economics, as well as improving my oral and written communication skills, these projects have reminded me of the strong interconnections between all realms of sustainability. Initiatives such as community energy planning can have profound impacts that extend far beyond financial gains and can contribute to the protection of environmental services and natural assets, amongst many other community-wide benefits. These projects help bridge the gap between economic growth and environmental protection and it is truly refreshing to see how key environmental considerations continue to be integrated into ongoing discussions of future economic development here at Lincoln.

    It is clearly an exciting time for the Town of Lincoln with an abundance of projects and long-term ambitions finally reaching stages of operationalization.  It has been a privilege to lend my support to these projects and I am looking forward to seeing what the remaining months here at Lincoln will have in store.

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Co-Op, Experiential Education, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor

  • A Co-Op Placement with the Town of Lincoln

    Blog Contributor: Zach MacMillan

    Zach MacMilland and Carrie Beatty

    It is interesting to reflect on my first few weeks working for the Town of Lincoln having now recently passed the halfway point in my co-op position. As someone who has traditionally held customer service type roles in the past, being able to work on sustainability issues in Town Hall was a welcomed change that has since provided limitless learning opportunities and connects perfectly with what we study in the SSAS program.

    Despite my limited experience working in an office setting I was able to have a smooth and successful transition due to the constant support from my supervisor Carrie Beatty who values the unique perspectives of the SSAS students. To ensure that both my co-worker Ben and I were able to get a holistic understanding of the Town of Lincoln, Carrie began our first day by giving us a complete tour of the Town. Growing up in St. Catharines I thought I had a fairly good idea of the Town’s geographical reach as well as its history, although after beginning our tour I realized that was not the case. Carrie had such a wealth of information to share about the Town, from historical facts to the what types of tender fruit trees grew where, demonstrating the uniqueness of the Town which sets it apart from other municipalities of Niagara. This was something I was unable to appreciate before working for the Town. The tour continued once we returned to the office and it was incredibly interesting to see how many individual departments work together to make the Town run smoothly. A Municipality is a complex organization requiring many moving parts to operate successful, although much of this work goes unseen and underappreciated having this understanding has helped me connect with the Town.

    Equipped with a newly developed understanding of the Town, Ben and I have since settled into our work stations located in what has been affectionally named “the fort”. It has been here where we have been working on both our main Brock-Lincoln Living Lab project as well as providing support to other ongoing projects around the office. Currently, our primary project involves developing an environmental and sustainability needs assessment for the Town using the Official Plan, while additional projects include supporting Economic Development and the Town’s Transportation pilot uLinc. This summer has been an exciting learning opportunity and I am excited to see where it leads.

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Co-Op, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Co-op with MTO inspires master of sustainability student to pursue career in environmental policy

    The next instalment in our series of blog posts about the co-op experiences of Sustainability Science & Society (SSAS) students, we hear from Nicholas Fischer, who will soon be graduating with his Master in Sustainability degree. Last summer, Nich worked for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) in the Environmental Policy Office.

    Blog Contributor: Nicholas Fischer

    Nicholas Fischer

    In my role as an Assistant Policy Analyst at MTO, I provided support to the Senior Policy Analysts on a variety of projects related to transportation infrastructure and landscape remediation. My principle assignment involved generating a policy brief and supporting house notes to various members of senior management. These briefing materials were the product of background research and communication with various provincial ministries and governing bodies, outlining the impacts which changes to the Environmental Assessment Act of Canada would have on provincial infrastructure delivery and environmental assessments.

    Outside of this project, I supported staff with additional projects and policy amendments, including: pollinator health in provincial right-of-ways, provincial waste management, endangered species protection and best management practices, and biodiversity strategies used across Ontario’s provincial ministries.

    The most interesting project I worked on was developing policy solutions for environmental assessment procedures for Ontario. During the time I was with the MTO, the Federal Government of Canada was undergoing a review of federal environmental assessment legislation which would ultimately impact how infrastructure delivery took place at a federal and provincial level. My project focused on identifying the impacts these legislative changes would have for the Ontario provincial government and identifying avenues of possible policy reform to ensure that infrastructure development and design in the province could continue in a sustainable manner, fitting within the new regulatory framework proposed at the federal level.

    My co-op experience has definitely helped to solidify the idea that I would like to focus my career experiences in the realm of environmental policy. Prior to this experience, I was unsure of working in the policy sector, however working with the MTO has shown me that without policy development and analysis, no real environmental change can take place on a regional or provincial level. Policy creates the avenues for change within a government and within local populations, and without policy avenues, it is difficult to affect real change for the betterment of our shared natural environment.

    I would like to thank the entire Environmental Planning Office for allowing me a breadth of experience on a variety of projects which showed me exactly how the province upholds environmental protection and sustainability within an infrastructure-based ministry. Additionally, I would like to thank Melissa Beamer of the Brock Co-op Office for working continuously with the SSAS students to ensure we found appropriate, challenging and rewarding co-op experiences.

    The ESRC’s SSAS program offers students the option of completing either a major research project and a co-op experience, or a longer research project that culminates in a thesis. Undertaking a co-op provides students with firsthand experience of how important knowledge of sustainability is in creating policy, guiding business development and ultimately helping the community. Graduating students frequently cite their co-op experience as being influential in guiding their future career plans. To find out more about the SSAS program, visit brocku.ca/ssas.

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, Experiential Education, SSAS Student Contributor

  • “Co-op Student of the Year” Meghan Birbeck reflects on 8 months with the Town of Lincoln

    Blog Contributor: Lydia Collas

    Each year, students in the Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS) graduate program embark on their co-ops between May and August. Since the SSAS program was established in 2014, students have worked in extremely varied industries, including eco-tourism, public transportation and town planning, and in locations from Niagara to Nicaragua!

    This year, SSAS student Meghan Birbeck was awarded the title “Co-op Student of the Year” – an honour given to just two students annually. Meghan spent an extended co-op working as a Sustainability Intern at the Town of Lincoln and was instrumental in securing the Living Lab Partnership between the ESRC at Brock University and Lincoln. I recently met up with her to find out more about the experience and what’s in store for the future.

    Meghan, what did your work as a Sustainability Intern involve?

    At Lincoln, I worked with a wide variety of departments that included planning and development, public works, community services, economic development and communications. My role was to bring a “sustainable” lens to issues that they were tackling. This was the first year that they had taken on a co-op student so the role was quite diverse and I applied myself to whatever task was most pressing.

    During your co-op experience, is there a project that you worked on that was most interesting/ enjoyable?

    The pilot public transit project that I worked on was really great. I was involved in reviewing current public transit services and I worked on exciting new developments. This involved drafting new transit routes as well as community outreach and education to connect with the local community about sustainable public transit.

    Now that you have returned to your studies in the SSAS program, what impact do you think your co-op experience has had?

    My co-op has really complemented my studies in the SSAS program. The experience allowed me to see how some of the underlying theories of sustainability have such broad implications – such as to the municipal projects that I was involved in!

    And did the co-op have a lasting impact on your future goals and plans?

    Definitely – I was invited to extend my co-op so I stayed on for eight months in total. I’m now doing my MRP but I have plans to go back to Lincoln this summer as well. Through the planning projects that I worked on, I developed an interest in becoming a professional accredited planner. My plan now is to combine this planning work with my education in sustainability.

    Is there anyone that you’d like to thank for their part in this experience?

    I am grateful that Brock had an established relationship with the Town of Lincoln that led to this co-op placement being established. I am very thankful to Melissa Beamer in the Co-op Department for her support during the application process and for acting as my Senior Employer Development Manager. I am also extremely grateful to Carrie Beatty at the Town of Lincoln for her unwavering support, ensuring that I was exposed to challenging projects and for making work and inviting and fun place to come to each day.

    Meghan receiving the “Co-op Student of the Year Award” after the official awards ceremony on 22 March 2018. Photo by Michelle Lesley Annett.

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, SSAS Student Contributor