Event

  • EESI Partnership Roundtable Event

    Blog Contributor: Allison Clark

    Greenspaces, such as those found within Niagara Parks, have great ecological and social importance. For example, connecting with nature can provide benefits to physical and mental health. ThCovid-19 pandemic has increased the need for people to get outside and connect with nature. As a result, human activity in greenspaces has increased substantially, which has in turcreated challenges for parks management. To ensure ecological integrity is being upheld while also protecting visitor safety, new trail management strategies should be considered. 

    To discuss how Niagara Parks can navigate the increased use of greenspaces, a roundtable event was held on October 20th, 2020. This event brought together individuals from the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) and Brock University. This event was made possible by the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI) – a partnership between NPC and Brock. During this event, Brock University’s master’s students, Samantha Witkowski and John Foster, presented their research pertaining to greenspaces within Niagara Parks. Implications of these research findings were discussed with regards to the management of greenspaces. 

    Samantha’s presentation was titled: Examining Stakeholder Perceptions in Monitoring and Evaluation of Environmental Management. Samantha presented two different studies. The first study examined inter-group differences in the perceptions of key performance indicators (KPIs) for viewpoints. Results showed that stakeholders, tourists, local residents, and environmental managers perceived KPIs differently in Niagara Parks. For example, stakeholders perceived view quality and vegetation as the most important KPIs, whereas environmental managers perceived viewpoint KPIs more critically. The second study explored the influence of engaging in a collaborative, or participatory monitoring and evaluation process on stakeholder perceptions of KPIs for trails. For this study, Samantha had stakeholders rank KPIs from what they perceived as most important to least important in terms of trail management. Stakeholders were then required to take a KPI workshop and re-rank KPIs. Results from this study showed that stakeholders perceptions of important KPIs for trail management differed significantly following the KPI workshop. Furthermore, it was noted that discussion, communication, and learning opportunities contributed to perception change. A main takeaway from Samantha’s research was that the NPC should move away from strictly expert-led, ecologically focused trail management approachesand move towards the inclusion of stakeholder perceptions in environmental management, monitoring and evaluation. 

    John’s presentation was titled: Niagara Glen Trails Assessment, Summer 2020. John’s research highlighted some challenges associated with increased human traffic in the Niagara Glen, as well as some short-term and long-term solutions to address increased traffic along the trail. John outlined challenges associated with social trails (networks of unauthorized trails), and visitor safety and communication. To protect ecological and human health at the Niagara Glen, John proposed that the NPC implements visitor education sessions, increases signage, and creates effective trail maps. 

    Overall, this roundtable event worked to successfully discuss how the NPC should navigate increased usage of greenspaces. The research findings presented by Samantha and John were received very well by members of the EESI, and the NPC were very receptive to suggestions for improved environmental and trail management.  

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

  • NPC Speaker Series Wrap Up

    Blog Contributors: Allison Clark & Savannah Stuart

    NPC Webinar Screenshot

    Dr. Adam Shoalts was the last guest in the NPC Stewardship Speaker Series, and what an adventurous note to end on! Adam is well known for his novels and storytelling, detailing his incredible solo adventures through the Northern Canadian Wilderness. He brings with him a rare understanding and view of the vast landscape of the Arcticone of the largest untouched wilderness areas left in the entire world. With a PhD in history from McMaster University and extensive experience orienteering and navigating wilderness settings, Adam has a keen sense of natural history and geography. Through his humorous and compelling talk, Adam translated knowledge and experiences to the viewers in a tangible way. 

    Adam’s most recent exploration was a solo adventure through the Canadian Artic, from East to West. He began this trip by foot in the spring, as rivers were still ice covered. His canoe was shipped to the Mackenzie River Delta and by then, the ice had melted and he was able to continue his journey by paddling and portaging. Near the end, he was racing to arrive at his destination before the Arctic winter took hold of the land again. Many questions were brought forth from viewers at home, such as food inquiries, how he was able to spend so much time in solitude, preparation, and lots of gear questions. Specific details of the trip are found in his novel, “Beyond the Trees”, which can be purchased on the Niagara Parks website. Judging by the captivity and engagement of the crowd, we can only assume that the novel will keep you on the edge of your seat!  

    With this last presentation, we are saddened to wrap up our speaker series. It has been a joy to come together (virtually) and learn about different aspects of the environment, stewardship, and sustainability. Our diverse selection of speakers brought an array of teachings to us and visited topics such as: Traditional ecological knowledge, adaptive capacity of communities, the current state of fresh water in Ontario, and the importance of wild spaces and connecting with nature. We feel that this series captured the transdisciplinary nature of environmental stewardship and sustainability and are hopeful that our audience took away inspiration and new ideas. Thank you to all who were able to join us! 

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

  • Elizabeth Hendriks’ Presentation and an Introduction to our Next Speaker, Adam Shoalts

    Blog Contributor: Savannah Stuart

    The Niagara Parks Commission and Brock University’s ESRC were thrilled to have Elizabeth Hendriks join us on October 21st to discuss connecting the land and water to regional climate change impact. Elizabeth is the Vice President of the WWF Canada’s freshwater program and led the release of the 2017 Watershed Reports. These reports were the first national assessment of the health and stressors of Canada’s freshwater. During her talk, Elizabeth highlighted that the reports do not include 100% of our freshwater systems, as we do not have data to report on all our freshwater resources and there is still much to be investigated within our freshwater systems. You can view the Great Lakes watershed reports on the WWF website to check in with different watersheds’ health and threats. Lake Ontario and the Niagara Peninsula currently have “fair” health, but also have very high levels of threat.

    Overall, Elizabeth said the watershed reports gave evidence of moderately healthy systems. This can give us hope for the future, but she also stated that we need to do better. She encouraged us to become involved in local initiatives to protect our freshwater systems. With the dual crisis of climate and biodiversity loss, freshwater highly impacts life on land, above water, and below water. Freshwater systems do not have the same level of protection and conservation that some land masses do, which could be a prominent issue in ensuring their health in the future. Additionally, freshwater systems are inextricably connected with ecosystem health and the ecosystem services that the land graciously provides

    Our next speaker in the series will bring with him a great sense of adventure! Named one of the “greatest living explorers” by CBC and Canadian Geographic, Adam Shoalts will speak about incredible adventures in the great Canadian wilderness. A previous student at Brock University, Adam went on to complete his master’s and PhD at McMaster University, focusing on history, natural history, geography, and archeology. Adam is now an accomplished author with multiple books that have reached best-seller lists. Adam will share with us the value of the wild places he has explored and how important they are to our future. We hope you can join us on October 28th at 7pm for this online session.

    To learn more about this speaker series, and Brock’s partnership with the Niagara Parks Commission, please click here.

     

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

  • Congratulations to our Fall 2020 Graduates!

    The ESRC is proud to announce that three students have officially completed the SSAS program and are graduating on October 16th, 2020! Emma Baker, Meredith Caspell, and Seyi Obasi made important contributions to the field of sustainability science through their research projects while also engaging in other scholarly activities during their time in the SSAS program. We are very proud of them; it’s been an honour to be a part of their academic journey.

    Emma Baker joined the SSAS program in 2018 after receiving an Honours BA in Environmental Governance and Geography from the University of Guelph. Her research project, entitled “Resilience in the City: An Analysis of Urban Water Resilience in Strategic Documents for Toronto, Canada” was supervised by Dr. Julia Baird. In addition to this research work, Emma also completed a co-op position as a Camp Director at the Royal Botanical Gardens Discovery Camp in Hamilton. In this position, Emma helped to emphasize experiential, outdoor learning and write programs to focus on various elements of environmental education. Emma was also recently featured on CHCH News for her work at Royal Botanical Gardens!

    Meredith Caspell joined the SSAS program in 2018 from Pincher Creek, Alberta. Meredith’s thesis project, titled “Visualizing climatic and non-climatic drivers of coastline change in the Town of Lincoln, Ontario, Canada” was supervised by Dr. Liette Vasseur, and successfully defended by Meredith on June 9th, 2020. Meredith has presented her research at numerous conferences throughout her time in the program, including the CatIQ Connect 2020 conference, for which she was one of only three Canadian graduate students chosen to present. Meredith was recently named recipient of the Esri Canada GIS Scholarship for an interactive ArcGIS StoryMap she created as part of her thesis research. She has also been named recipient of the 2020 Fall Distinguished Graduate Student Award.

    Seyi Obasi travelled all the way from Lagos, Nigeria, to join the SSAS program in 2018. Along with fellow graduate Emma Baker, she joined Dr. Julia Baird’s Water Resilience Lab and began her thesis research. She successfully defended her thesis, titled “Determining Individual Endorsement Levels for Water Resilience Principles – A Case Study of the Town of Lincoln, Ontario” on May 26th, 2020. In addition to her work in the SSAS program as a student and a research assistant, Seyi was also very active with Brock International and the Brock University Graduate Student Association (GSA). She was also a recipient of the International Student Ambassador scholarship for the 2019-20 academic year.

    In addition to these three SSAS graduates, we would also like to acknowledge two undergraduate students, Ekamjot Dhillon and Jessica Marlow, who will be graduating with the Minor in Environmental Sustainability. All five of our graduates have worked exceedingly hard to reach this important academic milestone, and we hope you’ll join us in expressing our heartfelt congratulations!

    Categories: Blog, Event, SSAS Program

  • ESRC Faculty, Staff and Students Honoured at Celebration of Excellence

    On Tuesday, January 28, 2020, the Faculty of Social Science at Brock University hosted their annual Celebration of Excellence to honour outstanding Social Science faculty, staff, and students. Among this year’s winners were several ESRC faculty and staff, as well as a number of SSAS students and alumni – all of whom are listed below. On behalf of ESRC Director Dr. Ryan Plummer, and SSAS Graduate Program Director Dr. Marilyne Jollineau, we would like to extend our congratulations to everyone who was recognized this year!

    SSAS Student Awards

    Bluma Appel Graduate Entrance Scholarship for Excellence in Social Sciences – Bridget McGlynn

    Distinguished Graduate Student Award – Emilie Jobin Poirier, Angela Mallette

    Graduate Student Research Excellence Award – Brooke Kapeller

    Joan P. Nicks Graduate Scholarship – Nolan Kelly

    Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Masters) – Meredith DeCock, Angela Mallette

    Ontario Graduate Scholarship – Samantha Witkowski, Jessica Zugic

    Rovinelli Family Bursary in Environmental Sustainability – Meredith DeCock, Nolan Kelly

    Student Travel Award – Meredith DeCock

    Faculty and Staff Awards

    Brock SSHRC Explore/Exchange Program Grant – Tim Heinmiller

    Community Engagement Award – Amanda Smits, Centre Administrator

    CRISS Events Award – Michael Pisaric

    NSERC Discovery Grant – Michael Pisaric

    SSHRC Insight Development Grant – Jessica Blythe

    Water Canada’s 2019 National Water’s Next Award (Academic Category Finalist) – Julia Baird

    Categories: Awards, Event, SSAS Program

  • 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

    .

    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