Event

  • Niagara Adapts Officially Launches to the Public

    In June, members of Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre partnered with seven Niagara municipalities to address how climate change is affecting the region. This partnership, formally known as Niagara Adapts, was officially launched to the public on November 27th, 2019.

    The launch event featured a screening of the film Resilience, followed by a panel discussion with climate coordinators from each of the seven municipalities involved in Niagara Adapts. The conversation continued during a reception event where members of the community were invited to speak with ESRC members, Resilience filmmaker John Anderson, and other members of the Niagara Adapts team.

    Categories: Event, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts

  • Brock launches climate partnership with Niagara Municipalities

    A need to address climate change action in the Niagara region sparked an alliance between Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) and seven regional municipalities.

    Niagara Adapts, which formally launched Nov. 27 at the Film House at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, was formed to seek innovative strategies that address how climate change is impacting the region.

    The partnership, which was announced in June, will leverage resources and expertise from ESRC and the Town of Grimsby, Town of Lincoln, City of Niagara Falls, Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Town of Pelham, City of St. Catharines and City of Welland.

    “Many Canadian cities and regions don’t have formal climate change plans, which is surprising in 2019,” said Jessica Blythe, Assistant Professor, ESRC. “These seven municipalities are really stepping up and taking a leadership role.”

    The partnership has a mandate to support collaborative climate change adaptation assessment, planning and implementation.

    University President Gervan Fearon speaks with Professor Ryan Plummer and Assistant Professor Julia Baird.

    “One of the most critical priorities of our strategic plan is to support the vitality and health of our surrounding communities,” said University President Gervan Fearon. “Niagara Adapts is the perfect opportunity for us to work alongside our neighbours.”

    The launch included a free community screening of the film Resilience, followed by a discussion and reception with partnership representatives.

    The inspiration for Resilience, said filmmaker John T. Anderson, stems from a course curriculum from one of Blythe’s classes, which allowed him to “understand the full dimensions of climate change.”

    Screening his film was especially meaningful to Anderson, who, in addition to having worked as a marine scientist at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, is proud to call himself Blythe’s father.

    “We kind of pinch each other,” said Anderson of collaborating with his daughter. “We can’t believe it.”

    Blythe agreed, noting that they never thought their conversations about climate change would develop into a professional relationship.

    “It’s a dream to work with my dad,” she said. “I’ve also been very fortunate to work with the ESRC because of their prioritization of community partnerships, which lead to talking with municipalities and observing the similar challenges of climate change impact.”

    The motivation behind the partnership came from the realization that finding climate change solutions could be alleviated by sharing expertise and resources.

    “One of the challenging things about climate change is that it cuts across everything,” said Blythe. “It’s related to health, infrastructure, food production… everything we do has some sort of impact from climate change. The silver lining is that we can only tackle it collaboratively.”

    Acting Director and Associate Professor in ESRC Marilyne Jollineau says that successfully tackling climate change requires a community-based effort.

    “We need to draw upon the knowledge and expertise of everyone around the table,” she said. “This means talking to experts, scientists, social scientists, politicians, business owners and municipalities who are trying to address these issues. We should all think critically about the ways we can reduce our carbon footprint.”

    She also applauds Regional councillors, who voted to move to biweekly garbage collection starting in fall 2020 and encouraging residents to use organic and recycling bins when possible.

    Blythe hopes that the partnership, as well as the film Resilience, will empower Niagara residents to take action.

    “I want the community to feel proud and be aware of the leadership their municipalities are demonstrating,” said Blythe. “Niagara Adapts, as well as the film Resilience, are solution-oriented and meant to demonstrate the areas where people can take action to take on this challenge.”

    Story from The Brock News

    Categories: Collaborations, Event, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts

  • Sustainable Development Goals Training Day: A Reflection

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

    On Saturday November 16th, Brock University hosted a Sustainable Development Goals Training Day on campus, after months of planning and countless hours of hard work. The event was made possible through a collaboration between Sustainability at Brock, a partnership between Facilities Management and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, and the Brock student Model United Nations Club. The focus of the event was to provide an introduction to the 17 SDGs and to highlight how we can address these goals at both the global and local level in our everyday lives. The event included an overview of the goals, a simulation to showcase the interconnectedness and implementation of the goals, and a workshop that aimed to put participants knowledge to use in addressing issues in the Niagara Region.  

    The event kicked off with an address from Brock President Gervan Fearon, where he discussed the importance of the SDGs, both globally and locally at Brock and in the Niagara region. Next, there was a presentation from Nour Hage and Kaileen Jackson, Secretary Generals of the Brock Model United Nations Club, in which they gave a complete overview of the 17 SDGs and explained the purpose and significance of the goals as well as how they all connect. Following this, the participants watched a UN SDG video that highlighted the urgency and importance of achieving the goals followed by a video created by Brock graduate student, Nico Gadea, which highlighted how specific regions were addressing the SDGs  

    After the introduction was complete the participants were split into two different groups. One group took part in the simulation workshop and the other took part in the action-based workshop, before switching after the lunch break. The Simulation Town workshop session offered a unique opportunity for participants to expand the limits of their creativity and build teamwork and collaboration skills in the process. The simulation took place in the fictional town of Brockville and encompassed several elements that parallel real life conflicts, each specifically relating to different sustainable development goals. The rationale for creating this project was to foster an interactive environment with a great deal of replayability that stimulated learning with critical skill development. The simulation aimed at making a game that was inclusive and allowed participants of all skill levels (from high school to post grad) to feel a sense of value and contribution. It took a team of six dedicated Brock student volunteers (Alex Albano, Christina Zugno, Rachel Housser, Noah Nickel, Nour Hage, and Nico Gadea) a total of just over 200 hours throughout the span of four months to complete the project. The simulation received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the participants and in the essence of sustainability, the simulation game along with a full set of instructions will be donated to the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) at Brock. 

    The second workshop session was titled SDGs in Action. This workshop allowed the participants to put their knowledge to use by tackling current issues in the Niagara region. Far too often people believe issues such as poverty, public health, and education are only issues outside of Canada and that there is nothing they can do to help. However, this could not be further from reality as these issues (along with many others) are present and prevalent in Canada and more specifically in the Niagara Region. This workshop gave the participants a local perspective of these issues and showed how those in Niagara are directly affected. The goal was to show that these issues are prevalent all around us and that it takes collaboration along with multiple perspectives to work on solving these issues. After a brief slideshow highlighting the interconnectedness of the SDG’s the groups of participants were broken up into smaller groups and tasked with addressing specific local concerns at home, at work/school, and in the community. The workshop finished off with a poster presentation from the groups which highlighted their ideas. These discussions highlighted the importance of the SDG’s in our everyday lives and what steps can be taken to further advance the goals. This workshop session came to fruition through the hard work of Amanda Smits, Centre Administrator for the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Research Assistants Erica Harper and Nolan Kelly, along with assistance from the Brock Model UN Club. 

    After all the participants had completed the workshops, Dr. Ana Sanchez concluded the event with an overview of the SDGs where she reminded everyone why they should care and take action at both the global and local levels. She stressed the importance of the interconnectedness of the goals, as you cannot achieve one goal without also addressing the others. Dr. Sanchez used many real-world examples and spoke with passion as the event concluded.  

    The event was designed to educate and inspire those who attended so that they can further progress the SDGs and make a difference whether that be in their individual choices, in their community, or on a global scale. We believe this event achieved the overall goals and we could not be happier with the end result. Thank you to all the participants that came out as well as all of the organizers, guest speakers, and volunteers that made the event a resounding success! 

     

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Event, Innovative Partnership, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • 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

  • Sustainability scholarship recipients meet with community donors to share impact of their support

    Through a combination of community backing and word spreading across campus, wind is picking up in the sails of Brock’s sustainability programming.

    The University’s minor in sustainability, launched in fall 2017 and offered through Brock’s Environmental Research Centre (ESRC), will see its first cohort of students graduate in June.

    Two of the soon-to-be grads, as well as three graduate students in the Sustainability Science and Society program introduced by the ESRC in 2014, received scholarships for their studies through a $5,000 donation from Toromont Cat

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    Photo: Brock students who will soon graduate with a minor in sustainability were celebrated recently by the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. Pictured is student Nolan Kelly, Faculty of Social Sciences Dean Ingrid Makus, ESRC Director Ryan Plummer, and students Mikayla Richards and Abbey Faris.

    Officials from the construction company were on campus last week to meet with students whose lives were impacted by their support.

    Providing funds for sustainability scholarships was a natural progression from the long-standing partnership Toromont has had with the University and its co-generation facility, said Lou Colangelo, the company’s General Manager.

    “We’ve been working with Brock for many years through its power plant and supporting students by giving them exposure to the industry,” he said.

    The company, he added, is pleased to provide financial support as well as mentorship opportunities that connect students with professionals who have decades of experience in the energy and sustainability field.

    “The industry is constantly evolving, so getting exposure to fresh thinking and to young minds that have not been focused on the path we’ve been looking at is also a huge benefit.”

    The financial boost allowed graduate student Meredith DeCock to begin pursing her sustainability studies at Brock last fall.

    “The scholarship enabled me to take on projects and an extra course in addition to focusing on my program requirements,” she said. “Providing me with the ability to focus on my full-time studies, the Toromont scholarship enriched my learning and research experience over the past year.”

    Other scholarship recipients included graduate students Brooke Kapeller and Leaya Amey, and undergraduate students Nolan Kelly and Kaitlyn James.

    ESRC Director Ryan Plummer said the partnership with Toromont “serves as a powerful illustration to students, faculty and staff of the innovation that can be achieved through meaningful collaboration.”

    The minor in environmental sustainability was created “to respond to pressing social and ecological challenges and opportunities in Niagara, nationally and globally,” he said. “Units across the University worked collaboratively with the ESRC to make this important program part of Brock’s curriculum. The enthusiastic response by students far exceeds our initial expectations. It is very rewarding to see our first cohort of students graduating with the minor and I am incredibly proud of them.”

    Brock has been collaborating with Toromont for more than 25 years to “provide reliable, cost-effective energy to our campus community,” said Scott Johnstone, Associate Vice-President, Facilities Management. “We’re now advancing this partnership with a new generation of high efficiency equipment. In addition, we are conducting research together to test new engine oils and additives to extend equipment life, all while making our plant more sustainable.”

    Story from The Brock News

    Categories: Event, Innovative Partnership, Minor in Sustainability

  • Environmental buzzwords at centre of public discussion

    “Sustainability” and “stewardship” are among the many environmental buzzwords that have become a part of everyday life.

    But what exactly do those words mean?

    Researchers from Brock’s Posthumanism Research Institute (PRI) and Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) will delve deep into the meaning of these and other terms during an upcoming discussion held on campus Wednesday, Jan. 16.

    Brief presentations will be given on the environmental concepts of sustainability, stewardship, transformation, resilience and consumerism, followed by an open discussion with the audience.

    The event features guest speakers Julia Baird, Assistant Professor in Brock’s ESRC and the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies; Jessica Blythe, Assistant Professor in the ESRC; Christine Daigle, PRI Director and Professor of Philosophy; Trevor Norris, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Studies; and Ryan Plummer, Professor and ESRC Director.

    The event, held from 1 to 3 p.m. in Plaza 600F, will be hosted by David Fancy, PRI member and Associate Professor, Dramatic Arts.

    All are welcome to attend.

    Categories: Event