Collaborations

  • SSAS Experiential Learning Field Trip Takes Students Across Niagara

    The SSAS 5P01 course description describes experiential education as “a critical vehicle to enable exploration of the enactment of genuine sustainability science”. On Thursday, November 7th, this year’s cohort of Master of Sustainability students took part in the third and final experiential education component of the course – travelling across the Niagara region to see first-hand how Brock is involved in a number of environmental sustainability initiatives.

    We were welcomed to the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre by Dr. Darby McGrath, Nursery & Landscape research scientist and ESRC Adjunct Professor. Dr. McGrath gave an overview of the research that happens at the Vineland institute, including environmental impact. She then took the students to one of the new greenhouses at the Centre, where everyone was required to put on biosafety gear – including covers for our shoes and sanitizer for our hands. Here, the students learned about biocontrol and how it’s used in the greenhouses at Vineland Research and Innovation. We left the greenhouse with a new appreciation for sustainable pest control, and some souvenir tomatoes! Our last stop at Vineland was the Potting Shed, where we heard from a few researchers about their soil-related projects and how this research affects the Canadian landscape. The students left Vineland with an appreciation for all of the research happening within one centre, and hopeful that their own research could have similar impacts.

    From Vineland, we headed to Charles Daley park, where second year SSAS student Meredith DeCock and Brock adjunct professor and ESRC co-founder Dr. Brad May discussed their work on the MEOPAR-Town of Lincoln Research Community Sustainability Project. MEOPAR stands for the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network, and the collaboration with Lincoln is meant to help the community understand how to deal with the impacts of climate and environmental changes. DeCock’s research involved examining the Lake Ontario shoreline at Charles Daley park, and she shared her experiences with the students.

    Our final stop of the day took us to the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab. There, we met Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton, who officially welcomed us to Lincoln, and spoke to the students about education and professional development. Following this, we heard from Dr. Marilyne Jollineau and Mike Kirkopoulos, who spoke to the students about living labs and what they are, as well as an overview of the Town of Lincoln and their current environmental sustainability initiatives. After a day full of guest speakers and presentations, it was time for us to reflect on what we’d learned. Carolyne Finlayson led us through a reflective practice exercise in which the students addressed their feelings towards environmental sustainability research prior to the trip, and then revisited those feelings at the end. They did this through photos and group discussion, and they all had some very insightful things to say about the day!

    Needless to say, we were all pretty tired when we returned to Brock at the end of the day – but we were also excited for the future of environmental research and the role we all have in these exciting initiatives!

     

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Collaborations, Experiential Education, SSAS Program

  • Niagara Adapts Holds First Three Workshops

    Earlier this summer, representatives from seven local municipalities in Niagara and members from Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC), met for the inaugural Niagara Adapts workshop at Brock University. The morning began with presentations from Dr. Ryan Plummer and Dr. Jessica Blythe on climate change in Niagara. Next, each municipality gave a presentation on some of the climate change impacts previously experienced in their community as well as some of the actions taken so far. This portion of the day was especially interesting and valuable. It became apparent just how much we can learn from our neighbours. Throughout the entire workshop, there was a recognition of the novelty of the partnership, as well as an appreciation for the fact that we are more effective when we work collaboratively. “Why reinvent the wheel?”, as put by one workshop attendee.

    The second Niagara Adapts workshop, titled “Climate change impacts analysis”, was held on Friday, August 16th. We were joined by Dr. Brad May, a Canadian expert in climate change adaptation and risk assessment. It was a jam-packed, but very informative day. In the morning, we explored key climate change concepts, climate models, and climate change trends and projections (from global to local). Using a new tool (climatedata.ca), we accessed climate scenarios and recorded some projections for 2050 and 2100. Some of the findings were shocking. For example, under one high emissions scenario, it is projected that by the end of the century there could be up to 123 days per year above 30C (City of St. Catharines). That is more than one third of the year, with extreme heat days! In the afternoon, we identified potential climate change impacts and ran through a preliminary risk assessment exercise. Having members from a range of backgrounds (from engineering to environmental services) was exceptionally valuable, and enriched the brainstorming process.

    Most recently, on Wednesday, September 18th, the ESRC hosted the third Niagara Adapts workshop, called “Climate change vulnerability assessment”.  The workshop began with a lecture by Dr. Ryan Plummer, which was designed to provide an overview of the concepts of climate change vulnerability. Dr. Plummer also provided an introduction to climate vulnerability assessments, including how they can be implemented, the data that can be obtained, and the importance of such assessments to informing climate change adaptation actions. Following the lecture, we conducted a working session on ranking vulnerability indicators. This type of participatory approach is important for creating a context-specific vulnerability assessment.

    The outputs from all three workshops are essential components to begin the climate change adaptation process, and we are excited at all that we have learned about climate change in Niagara in such a short amount of time!

    To learn more about this exciting initiative please join us on November 27, 2019 at the official launch of Niagara Adapts at the Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines – tickets are FREE!

     

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Innovative Partnership

  • ESRC Researcher to Tackle Ecosystem Services Resilience and Sustainability in New Five-Year NSERC Strategic Network Project

    NSERC has recently announced $5.5 million in funding for NSERC ResNet: A network for monitoring, modeling, and managing Canada’s ecosystems services for sustainability and resilience, led by Dr. Elena Bennett (McGill). Dr. Julia Baird (CRC and Assistant Professor in the ESRC and DGTS) is a co-lead of one of three themes: ‘Mapping the decision-space for ecosystem services management’ and is one of 26 co-applicants from across Canada on the project. The funding will support a Post-doctoral Fellow at Brock University for four years and several Master of Sustainability students will engage in this pan-Canadian research project.

    NSERC ResNet “aims to transform Canada’s capacity to monitor, model, and manage its working landscapes and all the ecosystem services they provide for long-term well-being”. Ecosystem services are the benefits people derive from nature, such as food and timber, as well as the benefits that may be overlooked like carbon sequestration, flood regulation and aesthetic appreciation. These ecosystem services are not independent; rather, decisions that are targeted to one ecosystem service, such as food production, also have consequences for other ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration. Accordingly, the decisions we make have far reaching implications for the ecosystem and human well-being and appropriate management is critical for resilience and sustainability.

    The project focuses on landscapes that are actively being used for resource production (such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries) that are abundant in Canada and so important to the well-being and prosperity of Canadians. The theme Dr. Baird is co-leading with Dr. Gordon Hickey (McGill) is focused on the management of the range of ecosystem services these landscapes provide to ensure their sustainability far into the future. They are using innovative research approaches that engage those in the study landscapes to tackle the question of management and dealing with the ‘messy’ nature of interrelationships and trade-offs among ecosystem services. Fortunately, they are drawing on a complement of accomplished collaborators from Brock (R. Plummer), U Waterloo (D. Armitage), McGill (B. Harvey), U Winnipeg (A. Diduck and R. Bullock) and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Ö. Bodin) who bring a wealth and diversity of expertise to the project.

    An innovative element of NSERC ResNet is that the project model is transdisciplinary. It brings together academics, industry, non-governmental organization, Indigenous partners and government agencies in a co-design process. This is important since the project addresses a complex question embedded in diverse landscapes and social-ecological contexts. While each of the landscapes is unique, one of the goals of NSERC ResNet is to identify commonalities across them that will support the development of a decision support tool in the form of an ‘ecosystem services dashboard’ – a practical tool to incorporate an understanding of ecosystem services into management decision on working landscapes across Canada.

    Categories: Applied Research, Collaborations, Innovative Partnership

  • Launch of the Resilience Collaborative

    Earlier in June, a group of influential researchers gathered at Theal House for the inaugural meeting of the Resilience Collaborative. The Resilience Collaborative is an initiative of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC). The primary goal of the collaborative is to develop insights about resilience and build the capacity of individuals, organizations, and communities to navigate complexity and change.

    The collaborative brings together scholars who share a deep commitment to resilience as essential for sustainable futures. Resilience, in the context of social-ecological systems, is the ability to maintain and persist, to adapt when needed to changing conditions, and to transform when persistence and adaptation are no longer feasible. Resilience is a way of thinking that recognizes the complex interactions between society and our ecosystems. It embraces the idea of change and acknowledges uncertainty.

    This new group includes researchers from the ESRC as well as partner organizations including the Vineland Research & Innovation Centre and the Healthy Headwaters Lab at the University of Windsor. Given that resilience is an approach that encourages broad and meaningful participation by stakeholders, learning from feedbacks, and taking action for biosphere stewardship, the inaugural meeting included the development of a vision for the first community-based project to be executed in the Town of Lincoln.

    Stay tuned for exciting updates on the Resilience Collaborative and the inaugural collaborative project!

    Resilience Collaborative - June 2019 Resilience Collaborative - June 2019

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations