Conferences

  • Brock-Lincoln Living Lab Year-in-Review

    BL-LL Year-in-Review 2019

    Photo (left to right): Meredith DeCock, Mike Kirkopoulos, Liette Vasseur, Mayor Sandra Easton, Marilyne Jollineau, Jessica Blythe

    On Thursday, December 12th the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre welcomed both Mayor Sandra Easton and CAO of the Town of Lincoln, Mike Kirkopoulos, to Brock to provide them with a summary of the work done through the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab (BL-LL) partnership in 2019 – including opportunities for Brock students and knowledge mobilization activities!

    Developing an Operational Plan (OP) for the work of the Brock Lincoln Living Lab (BL-LL) was an important priority this year. The purpose of the OP is to provide actionable items that allow the Town to move forward in an integrated way toward the goal of becoming a sustainable community. The plan includes specific actionable items constructed over the next four years for five priority projects, as identified by the Town’s Senior Management Team. Three additional projects led by ESRC researchers are also being included under this OP.

    Brock University students have also had the chance to learn more about the BL-LL through experiential education opportunities including Master of Sustainability student projects in SSAS 5P03 (Problem Solving in the Environment) and a field trip to the Town of Lincoln for the SSAS 5P01 (Foundations of Sustainability Science and Society) student cohort in November 2019. In terms of knowledge mobilization, those involved in leading the BL-LL have been busy throughout the year presenting at various conferences, Brock Board meetings and courses at the university.

    The 2019 year was very productive for the BL-LL team, led by Dr. Marilyne Jollineau, and all are looking forward to another exciting year in 2020!

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Conferences, Experiential Education, Innovative Partnership

  • Inaugural EESI Partnership Roundtable

    Blog Contributors: Bani Maini & Bridget McGlynn

    On October 23, 2019, individuals from the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) and Brock University gathered at Legends on the Niagara Golf Course for an inaugural roundtable event. The roundtable is the first in a series of events made possible via the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI), a partnership between the NPC and Brock University. The meeting provided an orientation to EESI, allowed for the sharing of recently completed research findings, discussion the implications of the findings, and allowed for progress to be shared on projects associated with the partnership. Corey  Burant  from the NPC and Dr. Ryan Plummer from Brock co-chaired the event.  

    Angela Mallette, a recent Master of Sustainability graduate from Brock, presented her research on “Understanding Perceptions of the State of the Environment in Relation to Ecological Measures: Intergroup Differences and the influences of Environmental Interpretation”. Through ecological assessments, and visitor and expert surveys, Angela observed ecological health as well as perceptions of ecological health. Her research provides a holistic approach to environmental assessment which includes ecological measurements as well as social perspectives.  

    The discussion Angela’s presentation provoked stimulated not only more research questions but also suggestions for potential NPC initiatives to better achieve their stewardship goals. Her research has important ecological and cultural implications for the NPC and the sentiment resonated with everyone present at the meeting. One of the aims of the partnership is to mobilize evidence-based research and suggestions in order to help with the management of resources at the NPC. These findings not only help with immediate resolution of existing concerns, but also open avenues for other potential areas of research and collaboration.   

    After Angela’s presentation and a stimulating discussion on the outcomes and implications of her research, faculty and students from Brock shared updates on the ongoing projects which are a part of the partnership. Samantha Witkowski, a current Master of Sustainability student at Brock shared her ongoing research on monitoring and evaluation approaches. Brock University Assistant Professor Dr. Julia Baird presented the early findings of the her latest research, made possible through an Insight Development Grant, which aims at assessing four different methods for evaluating ecological outcomes of environmental stewardship. Dr. Baird and Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. Sherman Farhad also shared updates on an ongoing social network analysis project which aims at understanding the modes and extent of environmental stewardship knowledge sharing networks at the NPC. Updates were also shared on Dr. Jessica Blythe’s project related to the public’s perception of the NPC.  

    The outcomes of completed and ongoing partnership projects provide insights and opportunities that influence future environmental stewardship goals and objectives. The roundtable was a true reflection of the commitment and the level of engagement that individuals from both the organizations bring to the table. The event perfectly captured the essence of the partnership and underscored the importance of current and future roundtables.  

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

  • Learning the Art of Conference Intentionality

    Blog Contributor: Meredith DeCock

    Once you’ve been to one or two conferences, you’ve been to them all, right? I have been to leadership, industry, and academic conferences, and until recently, I would have said that I went into each with the same mindset: networking. The goal was to make connections with people. The more connections the better. Until recently, I would say I fell into the habit of blindly treating all networking opportunities the same.

    As a graduate student in the Sustainability Science and Society master’s program, I have been very fortunate to attend and present at a few conferences in the last year. Each conference experience was unique in the type of conference, the audience in my presentation sessions, and the type of connections I made.

    The first conference I presented at was Mapping New Knowledges (MNK) at Brock University last fall. I presented a poster in a spot that was hard to access – behind a door, on the inside row of posters, and right by the window. There were not many people who attended my poster, which I don’t think had much to do with the non-ideal location. Poster sessions are awkward. People don’t want to come straight up to your poster until they are certain they want to engage in a conversation. The strange and beautiful thing about the MNK conference is that it is open to all Brock gradate students, regardless of faculty. Walking through the poster session, there may be an ecology poster beside a humanities poster, across from a linguistics poster – it’s what makes the MNK conference so interesting and allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for the range of research being conducted on campus. The other fantastic part of MNK is the professional development element. Each day there were sessions to select from that were dedicated to student’s professional development, either within academia or outside of the academy. I may not have made any career-benefiting connections, but I went away from the conference with a feeling of deep support from the University for my personal and professional development.

    The second conference I attended was the Marine Environment Observation, Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR) conference in Victoria this past June. This conference was different as it was primarily organized for people working on MEOPAR-funded research projects. Being surrounded and engaging with peers working within the same discipline almost made it feel like you were amongst family. Networking felt easy. Everyone was overwhelmingly supportive of each other’s work. I was placed in a session to present my work in what seemed like the only social science related break-out session of the conference. And although there were only two of us presenting it was still very well attended. My presentation title, which included the term “community engagement”, attracted certain attendees and led me to connect with an employee working for the City of Surrey, BC who was interested in our process due to his extensive work with public engagement.

    I recently came back from the inaugural Sustainability: Transdisciplinary Theory, Practice, and Action (STTPA) conference hosted by University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). What I noticed immediately upon arrival at the conference was that most people seemed to know each other, and it was obvious who wasn’t affiliated with UTM. Networking felt like much more of a challenge than at the MEOPAR conference. As sustainability science is inherently inter and transdisciplinary, the research projects are as complex as the problems they are trying to help solve. This makes it challenging to group projects into themed sessions. I ended up in a geospatial group, presenting alongside researchers working on machine learning and remote sensing to identify tree species and track ecosystem health over time. My presentation certainly included geospatial data, but it also included a social science aspect that made me feel as though I didn’t quite fit with the others. I was nervous about this leading up to the session. But each of the presenter’s research was unique and stood out in its own way. Being in this particular session led me to making a connection afterwards with a peer at UTM wanting to cite our upcoming papers.

    A key lesson I have learned from these conferences over the past year is which sessions you choose to attend is important. Do you attend ones that sound the most interesting, or do attend one because the presenter could potentially be a great contact to make? Sometimes I choose not to go to the ones that most interest me, but the one I think may benefit myself or my research team the most. I also keep my future possible career options in mind when selecting which sessions to attend. Being intentional about which ones you choose may lead to connections or ideas that benefit you in ways you never could have seen coming. Not looking at the program in detail before the day of the conference can result in you ending up in the wrong room, in a session that you have no interest in attending, but you feel awkward leaving once you realize the mistake you made. Compare that to when I went to a session specifically because there was a researcher whose bio sparked my interest as she was doing similar work to my team at Brock. This led to us having an extended conversation after the session about different strategies that we are using for focus groups in our case studies and will hopefully lead to a mutually beneficial relationship between our teams.

    My experiences in the last couple of years have made me realize how important it is to be intentional about which conferences you are choosing to go to, which sessions you attend, and who you are trying to connect with. You don’t always get it right, but when you do, it is a rewarding experience.

     

    Categories: Applied Research, Conferences, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Mapping the New Knowledges Graduate Student Research Conference: Oral Presentation Session

    Blog Contributor: Connor Thompson

    One of the early issues we discussed in the Master of Sustainability program concerned where we fit within the academic landscape. I contend that this degree is what you make of it, in the sense that we are all able to choose our areas of specialization as we see fit. Education, policy, and environmental science immediately come to mind, but the beautiful thing about sustainability science is that it can (and should!) be incorporated into every facet of modern life. I was reminded of that early discussion after seeing the program for Mapping the New Knowledges (MNK) 2019, Brock University’s graduate student research conference. I found myself delivering a presentation on motivations and barriers to living off-grid, in a session themed “intersections of power and identity negotiations”. It was not exactly a perfect fit but I did my best to keep an open mind.

    MNK was my first opportunity to share my research publicly and it really was a great learning experience. I chose to open with an icebreaker on how my research was substantially different than the presenters who came before me, which drew a laugh across the room and helped set the tone for an engaging 12 minute spiel. By committing my presentation to memory I was able to make eye contact with the audience and play to their non-verbal cues, making sure to emphasize important points and elaborate when confused looks washed over the crowd. Though I initially laughed at my misfortune in being literally the last presenter of the conference, I was enormously lucky to be in that final timeslot. My presentation had all of the academic rigor that this sort of event demands, but I was also able to inject some personality and life into the end of a very long day for everyone in the room. I was told early on at Brock that knowing your audience is critical to your success, and it was absolutely true at MNK. The most successful presenters I saw were those that thoroughly knew their material, engaged with the audience, and were able to smile while discussing their work. Should you find yourself in a presentation room at MNK 2020, leave your PowerPoint slide notes in your bag and really make an effort to show your passion. The audience is there to see you, so make it interesting for them!

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

  • Attending the Student Conference on Conservation Science 2018

    Blog Contributor: Lydia Collas

    At the end of the March 2018, I attended the Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS) at the University of Cambridge. I was glad to have given myself a bit of recovery time after arriving in the UK from Canada because the conference consisted of three days which were totally action-packed with amazing talks, poster sessions and networking.

    As a second-year student in the thesis stream of the SSAS program, I sometimes find my work quite isolating. I’ve being working on my thesis research for the last year or so and whilst I interact with those in my program and my lab group, they’ve heard a lot about my research. So the experience of spending several days amongst 210 students who from all over the world (55 different nationalities were represented at the conference) and whom I had never met before was incredibly eye-opening. These students were in various stages of their careers – from Master’s to PhD to those that were taking some time out of full-time study to work for NGOs. I talked to people that were doing research ranging from studying the Fishing Cat in India, conserving lions while increasing agricultural yields in Zimbabwe, and planning renewable energy infrastructure in the UK. I learnt so much from just talking to these other students and being around such passionate people made me extremely proud of the work that we collectively do.

    A personal highlight for me was a Plenary Lecture given by Paula Kahumbu, the CEO of Kenyan Conservation NGO, Wildlife Direct. Paula spoke passionately of her efforts to support the conservation of Kenya’s wildlife whilst ensuring the country continues to develop and provide for its people. Paula spoke of how the wildlife documentaries broadcast in this part of the world that widely feature Kenyan wildlife are never actually made available to watch in Kenya. So one of the many things that Paula had done to engage people in the need to look after the environment was to get a team of people together to make a wildlife TV series in Kenya, for the Kenyan people. Paula also spoke on tackling ivory poaching, addressing conflicts between farmers and wildlife, and the need to improve food security alongside environmental conservation.

    I left the conference feeling more inspired, informed and hopeful about the future. I would highly encourage other SSAS students (or any other students that might be reading this!) to apply to attend the conference either in Cambridge or in the other locations around the world where sister conferences are held – these include New York. You can find more information on the website here http://www.sccs-cam.org/.

    Cambridge - The River Cam

    Exploring Cambridge before the conference started: Photo of the River Cam from which Cambridge takes its name. Photo by Lydia Collas.

    Categories: Blog, Conferences, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Master of Sustainability student presents research at Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention

    Emilie - Fruit & Vegetable Conference

    Master of Sustainability candidate, Emilie Jobin Poirier at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Niagara Falls, ON.

    Maser of Sustainability student Emily Jobin Poirier recently had a poster presentation accepted at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention. Her poster presentation, based on her Master’s research, was titled “Doom, gloom or boom? – perceptions of climate change impacts amongst Canadian winegrowers.” Emilie is currently working on her Master of Sustainability thesis with supervisors Dr. Gary Pickering and Dr. Ryan Plummer. Congratulations Emilie!

    Follow Emilie on Twitter: @ejobinpoirier

    Categories: Blog, Conferences, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Outdoor Research Symposium

    Blog Contributor: Dr. Garrett Hutson

    Liz Peredun

    Brock alumna Liz Peredun (pictured above) and participating ESRC faculty member, Dr. Garrett Hutson, presented findings from the first comprehensive NOLS sense-of-place outcomes study at the Coalition for Education in the Outdoors Research Symposium in Martinsville, Indiana on January 13, 2018. The NOLS mission is to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment. NOLS leads wilderness expeditions for a variety of age groups worldwide with a focus on teaching leadership, outdoor skills, environmental studies, and risk management. One of the core environmental studies learning objectives at NOLS is for students to develop a “sense of place” by experiencing wilderness and exploring relationships with their surroundings. In the NOLS context, sense of place is defined as the personal relationship students develop with areas travelled during NOLS experiences. Sense of place is important to NOLS because articulating an environmental ethic and supporting students’ abilities in connecting with the natural world beyond NOLS is a goal of every course.

    The purpose of this study was to explore how NOLS course participants report developing a sense of place after completing a course at NOLS Rocky Mountain in Lander, Wyoming. Data were analyzed from 511 NOLS students who answered the open-ended question: Did NOLS help you develop a personal relationship to the places you visited? If so, how? Overall, 72% responded affirmatively and responses ranged from general feelings of nature appreciation to specific curriculum-driven learning mechanisms. Learning mechanisms included the chance to engage in environmental studies, developing familiar rituals, participating in authentic experiences, time for reflection, and discussions on natural history and indigenous awareness.

    Additional analysis is underway to explore links between sense-of-place development and other aspects of the NOLS environmental studies curriculum such as foundations in ecology, Leave No Trace environmental ethics, climate change, and transfer of learning. NOLS was a participating member of this study and plans to utilize these findings both to better understand the impacts of its programs and to improve the environmental studies curriculum.

    Liz Peredun is a graduate of the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies undergraduate program with the Outdoor Recreation concentration. Liz currently works as an instructor for NOLS in the Yukon Territory, Wyoming, and Utah and as a Program Director for Outward Bound Canada. Additionally, Liz works as a research assistant for this ongoing ESRC funded study.

    Categories: Applied Research, Blog, Conferences, Faculty Contributor