Experiential Education

  • Niagara Parks Field Trip Marks Return of In-Person Experiential Education for SSAS Students

    For the first time in two years, students enrolled in the Master of Sustainability program at Brock University were able to get together for an in-person field trip across the Niagara Region to engage with our community partners at the Niagara Parks Commission.

    The day began at the newly restored and renovated Niagara Power Station, where SSAS students Tyler Thomson and Lauren Patterson presented their final project in their Problem Solving in the Environment course (SSAS 5P03) on behalf of their classmates. As SSAS 5P03 instructor Dr. Ryan Plummer explained, the purpose of the assignment was to “collaboratively understand and resolve an environmental sustainability dilemma or opportunity. Niagara Parks was the client for the course this year and expressed an interest in proposals regarding communications and interpretation”. Dr. Plummer added that “the Niagara Parks Power Station provided an impressive backdrop for the students to present the final deliverables of their project to Ellen Savoia (Senior Manager, Planning and Environmental Sustainability), Corey Burant (Project Manager, Forest Health Planning, Environment and Culture) and colleagues from the ESRC”.

    After the presentation, the students were taken on a tour of the Niagara Power Station building that included a history of the power station from its initial construction in 1905 to today. The tour included multiple displays that covered various aspects of the station’s history, including a look at how the building was constructed with horse and carriage power. We were incredibly grateful to our tour guides for providing such a thorough history of such a fascinating aspect of the Niagara Region!

    From the Power Station, we stopped for a lunch break at Table Rock Market and headed out for the second half of our day, which was a tour of various Niagara Parks stewardship sites. Our first site was the Upper Whirlpool Woods, where Corey Burant spoke about trail management in the Niagara Parks Commission, and how the NPC manages at-risk species and old growth forests. The students then had the opportunity to meet and hear from SSAS alumnus Samantha Witkowski, whose thesis research was based in several Niagara Parks stewardship sites, including the Niagara Glen, and concerned evaluation of environmental management. Hearing from a former SSAS student whose thesis research has been published in several journals since completing the program was a valuable experience for our current students, many of whom will be starting to collect data for their own research projects.

    Following Samantha’s presentation, the students headed to the final two stops on their field trip. The first of these was the Usshers Creek Coastal Wetland Project site, where Corey Burant spoke to the students about the project and explained how the Niagara Parks Commission manages coastal wetlands in their stewardship sites. The final stop of the day was the Chippawa Battlefield, where Corey spoke to the students about the NPC’s Grassland Habitat Restoration Project. The students learned about the history of the site and how the NPC is using controlled burning to maintain the site and restore natural habitats.

    This experience was incredibly valuable for all students, as it provided them with the opportunity to not only meet many of their fellow classmates in person, but to visit the stewardship sites that so many of them are basing their research around. Lauren Patterson, who is currently completing a research assistantship with the Niagara Parks Commission, said that “visiting prominent Niagara Parks sites and seeing their beauty in person for the first time was a reminder of why we are studying Sustainability; We want to continue to experience areas filled with cultural and natural heritage, and safeguard them for future generations”. SSAS student Shannon Heaney, who travelled from Alberta to participate in the field trip, echoed Lauren’s statements, and added that “seeing the work that Niagara Parks is doing is inspiring for the future of sustainability and the beautiful natural areas in which these actions take place”.

    Check out the photos below of some highlights from our trip!

    Categories: Blog, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Experiential Education, SSAS Program

  • Study Options for Sustainability Science at Brock

    Blog Contributor: Alexandra Cotrufo

    Study abroad education in Global ideas: Graduated cap on top global model on open textbook in library. Concept of studying international educational,reading book bring success degree in life

    Climate change, depletion of resources, increased gas emissions, and poverty are all issues we are currently faced with. These complex problems require integrated and innovative solutions from multiple perspectives that take into consideration the urgency of the climate crisis.

    Studying environmental sustainability provides students with the skills and resources needed to be more environmentally conscious and helps create sustainable solutions to meet the needs of both society and the planet.

    The field of Environmental Sustainability is transdisciplinary in nature and combines theory from economics, social science, and environmental science to protect the natural environment, sustain ecological health, and improve the quality of life.

    Brock University offers many environmental sustainability study options, from a Minor in Sustainability to a brand-new PhD program in Sustainability Science. Keep reading to find out more about each option and what they have to offer!

    1. Minor in Sustainability 

    The Minor in Sustainability program provides students with the core skills necessary to solve complex problems regarding environmental sustainability. These skills are necessary in today’s modern world as businesses and governments adapt to new legislation and society becomes more aware of the impact we have on the environment.

    Through the courses available in the minor, student will have the opportunity to study sustainability issues from a transdisciplinary perspective and gain practical insight into how Canada and the world is moving forward to address environmental issues.

    1. Micro-certificate in Environmental Sustainability

    The certificate program introduces students to conceptual and applied aspects of environmental sustainability. The micro-certificate is designed for people who either already have a degree or who do not wish to pursue a degree and consists of two undergraduate courses.

    1. Master of Sustainability

     The Master of Sustainability program aims to facilitate society’s transition towards sustainability and provides graduate students with a high-quality education. The program offers enriching research, applied experiences, and engagement in problem-solving through innovative pedagogy.

    Students can tailor the program to their specific career and research interests through enriching classroom learning with practical experience in the form of a Co-op, or partake in an intensive research experience.

    Are you interested in applying for 2022/2023? Applications are currently being accepted until February 4th, 2022!

    1. PhD in Sustainability Science

     Brock has recently announced a new PhD in Sustainability Science program, which will launch in Fall 2022. This aim of the program is to cultivate a sustainable and equitable future and offer a state-of-the-art education. The program integrates rigorous scientific practice with an understanding of the unique relationship between humans and the environment. Upon successful completion of the requirements for the program, students will earn the designation of Doctor of Philosophy.

    Reference:

    https://brocku.ca/esrc/study-sustainability/

    Categories: Blog, Experiential Education, Innovative Partnership, Minor in Sustainability, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Case Studies: A Step Towards Solving the Climate Crisis

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    Christine Janzen is an instructor within the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre who teaches the Introduction to Environmental Sustainability (ENSU 2P01) and Environmental Sustainability in Practice (ENSU 2P02) courses at Brock University. Despite the challenges of teaching students in an online format during a global pandemic, she got creative and designed a case study for students focused on developing a sustainable community hub in the Town of Lincoln. A Community Hub is a place that offers various integrated services such as social, health, education, business development, and municipal services.

    For context, the Town of Lincoln is in the heart of the Niagara Region on Lake Ontario and includes smaller communities such as Beamsville, Jordan, and Vineland. It is home to nearly 24,000 residents and to over 50 wineries, farms, and heritage sites. The Town of Lincoln has long been committed to creating a sustainable community for all, and their overarching vision to be a place where all residents grow, prosper, and belong. To continue to fulfill this vision, the Town has set to develop a sustainable Community Hub, which represents “Project 1” within the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab Sustainability Action Plan.

    Students were challenged with the task of creating a planning process for the sustainable Community Hub while taking many other factors  into account, such as:

    • Determining who is involved in the planning process
    • Assessing who should be consulted during the planning process
    • Securing a building in an accessible location
    • Creating a framework for the project
    • Return on investment
    • The services that will be offered to residents
    • Implementing sustainable initiatives and making sustainability a priority
    • Ensuring that all residents are informed and buy into the idea of a Community Hub since taxpayer money will help to fund this project

    To help inform their responses to the case study for the Town of Lincoln, students were presented with fictional quotes from various key stakeholders that were “asked whether or not they would support the implementation of a Community Hub in their town”. Some fictional stakeholders included the Mayor, the Manager of Infrastructure and Development, citizens, council members, business owners, and social service providers.

    According to Janzen, the students approached this project and their chosen topics with a variety of interesting ideas. For example, a group of students were tasked with focusing on green infrastructure and low impact design on the community hub property. Their ideas ranged from a green roof, rain gardens, and permeable pavement to allotment of land for community gardens. Another group was asked to propose a communication strategy to promote the Hub to a group of stakeholders who may be hesitant about its implementation where they could apply what they’d learned about best practices in Environmental Communications. This group of students considered what messages would resonate best with the stakeholders they’d chosen based on their values and concerns, and considered best methods of dissemination of messages from in-person group discussions, public participation through social media, local broadcast media to forming a local community hub committee including some of the Town’s citizens.

    Overall, Janzen said that while the steps of this project were new to many students and that the project was challenging, the students rose to the occasion. Janzen also said that she was “pleased to see students using what they had learned about the Town’s values, goals, and objectives to help them determine what voices would be important in the Hub discussion”, adding that “one student even mentioned that she drove through the Town of Lincoln for the first time to get a better idea of the context of the case study”. She also focused on the importance of experiential education, as it “gives students opportunities to see how theory is applied in the “real” world and deepens their understanding of the course material”.

    Experiential education also helps students make connections between theory and practice at a local level. “For example”, said Janzen, “ENSU 2P02 explores how environmental sustainability practices are being implemented in several fields and provides examples from across the globe. Having students work through one of the projects the ESRC is engaged in allows them to see and participate in a project that is happening locally  – what sustainability looks like in Niagara Region”.

     

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Experiential Education, Town of Lincoln

  • Experiential Education in a Virtual Year

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

    2020 orientation

    In an academic year quite unlike any other, the first year Master of Sustainability students experienced experiential education in a very different form, the virtual kind. Three virtual experiential education components took place in SSAS 5P01 (Foundations of Sustainability Science and Society), focusing on sustainability at Brock, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and the ESRC’s innovative partnerships.

    Sustainability at Brock usually would have involved a tour of Brock’s Central Utilities Building, but instead involved Mary Quintana (Director, Asset Management & Utilities) and Amanda Smits (ESRC Centre Administrator) virtually joining the class to discuss how Brock is committed to sustainability through management of facilities. The students were virtually walked through Brock’s District Energy Efficiency Project (DEEP), which involved replacing old co-generation engines with state-of-the-art energy efficient units. The students were walked through how this project had increased energy efficiency and lowered Brock’s carbon emissions, helping the university stay on track with their sustainability targets. The students were also introduced to the sustainability initiatives on campus through BU Sustainable, including the @busustainableInstagram and other social media platforms. Even though the students couldn’t walk the underground tunnels of Brock instead, they still got to learn and experience all of the ways in which Brock is currently enacting sustainability every single day through a virtual presentation.

    The second experiential education component focused on UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, including the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve, a reserve in which Brock University is situated. The students were virtually joined by Dr. Liette Vasseur who is a faculty member at Brock University and Lisa Grbinicek, a Senior Strategic Advisor at the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Through their presentations we were taught about the Ontario’s Greenbelt, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and natures contributions to people. The discussion was kicked off by highlighting the vast expanse that is the Greenbelt, which is 1.8 million acres of protected land spread across Ontario, including the Niagara Escarpment. The unique biodiversity within the Niagara Escarpment was discussed, including thousand-year-old trees, rare flora, and multitudes of mammals, birds, and reptiles. The students learned about the early plans put in place to protect the greenbelt and its designation as a biosphere reserve in 1990. From there, new developments in UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves were discussed, including the ongoing conversation around the colonial implications of the term and the aim to change the term to Biosphere Region. The students also got to learn about ongoing developments in the field of biodiversity, including the differences between ecosystem services and natures contribution to people. Overall, the students got to hear from two professionals who have spent years in the field, protecting and researching biodiversity, and got to learn about the natural wonders that surround Brock.

    The final educational component highlighted the innovative community partnerships in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC). While in any other year this would have involved the students visiting these partnerships in person through an interactive field trip, instead this course component took place virtually this year. The students were joined by Ryan Plummer (Director of the ESRC), Amanda Smits (ESRC Centre Administrator) and Erica Harper (a second year SASS student and ESRC co-op student). The students were walked through each of these partnerships and learned how the ESRC is actively integrating transdisciplinary research into the surrounding community. The ESRC is currently involved in 8 community partnerships, including the Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Niagara Adapts, Trail Assets and Tourism, and a new Living Planet @ Campus partnership with WWF. As transdisciplinary research is a pillar of the SASS program and the ESRC, it was very important for the students to experience how the centre is integrating the transdisciplinary approach into their own partnerships. So, while the students did not get to visit these partnerships, they were still able to experience and learn about all of the work that the ESRC is doing within the community and learn about these partnerships.

    In a virtual year, experiential education can be a difficult thing to accomplish but the SASS students were still able to learn about and experience all of the ways in which sustainability is lived out at Brock, including through the facilities management, Brock’s place in a Biosphere Reserve, and the ESRC’s innovative partnerships.

    Categories: Blog, Experiential Education, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Implementing Experiential Education in a Virtual World

    Blog Contributor:  Erica Harper  

    Jess tweet

    Dr. Jessica Blythe is an assistant professor in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre who teaches courses to Minor in Environmental Sustainability (undergraduate) and Master of Sustainability (graduate) students who are keen to learn more about climate change, environmental policy, and how to achieve transformational change within our societies’ systems. To take on the challenge of engaging her students in a virtual world, Dr. Blythe has continued to implement experiential education into course work through the Fall 2020 semester.

    Dr. Blythe has used social media to get ideas for assignments before, but this time she inspired others on Twitter with her creativity to further her students’ understanding of climate change adaptation. Dr. Blythe posted about an assignment related to climate change adaptation that she gave her students enrolled in the capstone course of the Minor of Sustainability program, Contemporary Environmental Issues (ENSU3P90). Her Twitter post explains that she asked her students to generate tools to create workshops that would help people find solutions for climate change adaptation and transformation using Rob Hopkins and Rob Shorter’s Imagination Sundial. Dr. Blythe’s Twitter post received attention online and even managed to reach both the creators of the Imagination Sundial who were impressed by her creativity and ability to implement their Imagination Sundial into her course work.

    The Imagination Sundial acts as a design tool for rebuilding the imaginative capacity of people, organizations, or countries to help generate solutions for adapting to climate change. This tool resonated with Dr. Blythe because her research investigates how we can achieve transformational change in society and the Sundial is a great tool to help catalyze this type of change. Dr. Blythe approaches the ENSU390 course with the expectation that many of her students are finishing their degrees at Brock, and the course is therefore designed to help them become sustainability professionals or implement sustainability into their careers after graduation. Although her experiential assignments usually consist of working with real partners within the university, Dr. Blythe still wanted to provide her students with experiential learning opportunities in a virtual world. Using the Sundial, students had to explain who they would target for their climate adaptation workshop (e.g., farmers, residents, organizations, etc.), the purpose of their workshop such as what transformation they would like to walk participants through, and finally, students had to map out the logistics of their workshop.

    Dr. Blythe emailed both Rob Hopkins and Rob Shorter to explain the assignment in more depth and provide some examples from the students in her class. They were inspired that she had been using their Imagination Sundial for experiential education during this challenging time and they thought it was novel to be using their tool at the undergraduate level. All in all, Dr. Blythe has demonstrated a great example of how to implement experiential education in a virtual world and has surely inspired many of her colleagues online to do the same.

    To learn more about the Minor in Environmental Sustainability at Brock, please visit: https://brocku.ca/esrc/minor-in-sustainability/

    Categories: Blog, Experiential Education, Minor in Sustainability

  • Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development: Expert Perspectives

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    On October 22nd, the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre hosted their second Sustainability Seminar Series event of the term. The event consisted of a panel discussion with three professionals in the green infrastructure and low impact design space with decades of rich experiences and knowledge bases. The panelists were: Safdar Abidi, Principal, Practice Leader at Perkins and Will, Dr. Janani Sivarajah, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, and Paul Leitch, Director, Environmental Sustainability Services at Blackstone Energy Services.

    The panel kicked off with an important question – “what do ‘low impact’ and ‘sustainability’ mean to you?”. This question allowed the panelists to provide the audience members with their perspective and lens when it comes to working in the low impact development and green infrastructure industry. The responses varied greatly, but one common theme was that sustainability and low impact design need to be synonymous with social, ecological, and economical resilience. Another key aspect of sustainability that Dr Sivarajah, Mr. Abidi, and Mr. Leitch pointed out was that buildings and designs must be “low impact” not only for humans, but animals, plants, and all other ecological systems for us all to thrive.

    The second questions asked panelists to identify challenges that they perceive as roadblocks to implementing low impact development and green infrastructure. Mr. Leitch highlighted that many facilities and organizations have conflicting priorities that get in the way of integrating green infrastructure and low impact development, but that we must properly communicate the benefits of sustainable design for it to be implemented “from the boiler room to the board room”. Additionally, Mr. Abidi stated that as long as we see sustainability as an optional choice instead of a priority, we will not be able to move forward in terms of green infrastructure and low impact development and we must debunk the myth that “climate change is a subjective issue”. Lastly, Dr. Sivarajah mentioned that sustainable design is often an afterthought and we try to fit it in after the “grey” infrastructure is set. Dr. Sivarajah also stated that we need to go back to our roots, making sure that low impact development and green infrastructure are planned from the onset of a development with transdisciplinary perspectives as stakeholders must work together to implement radical green infrastructure.

    The event’s last question allowed the audience to get a glimpse into how the experienced panelists view the future of low impact development and green infrastructure. To begin, Mr. Abidi explained that the pandemic has provided humans with a strong signal to take a step back and reflect on the value of being part of a community. For a thriving community, we must have the following: healthier and active lifestyles, equity in terms of access to public spaces, and community building. Dr. Sivarajah drove home the importance of planning urban spaces with intention and in a holistic manner that accounts for accessibility, equity, and sustainability for all living beings. Lastly, Mr. Leitch believes that although the transition towards prioritizing low impact development and green infrastructure will be a gradual one, as behavioural changes expand, green infrastructure and low impact development will become expected standards that offer great benefits tied to wellbeing.

    The panel discussion concluded with each professional’s closing statement for audience members. Mr. Leitch stated the importance of generating solutions for complex issues in a “people-oriented way” and to hold strong when it comes to our path with sustainability in school and in our careers. Additionally, Dr. Sivarajah told the students in the audience that they were the future of sustainability and that it is crucial to prioritize your values as they will guide you in the professional world. Lastly, Mr. Abidi left us with the fact that we are in a position of privilege to even have the knowledge to find solutions to climate change and reverse the damage that humans have done to our planet. Mr. Abidi also asked students to think of themselves as “healers of the Earth” as they go on to pursue different career paths in sustainability, low impact development, and green infrastructure.

    All in all, this was an inspiring event that helped students gain a deeper understanding of the major current challenges that professionals face in the space of green infrastructure and low impact design, while also being exposed to ways in which we can overcome them with transdisciplinary solutions.

    This panel was live-streamed – a recording is available on our YouTube channel.

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Experiential Education, Prudhommes Project, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock, Town of Lincoln

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Marilyn I. Walker – A Sustainable Gem in Downtown St. Catharines

    Blog Contributor: Connor Thompson

    Marilyne I Walker Building

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts(MIWSFPA) is an absolutely gorgeous building full of natural light and art, located off Brock’s main campus, in the downtown core of St. Catharines. Having been renovated from the Canada Hair Cloth Company building in 2015, its construction offered Brock University the ability to do what it does best – research! Facilities Management took the opportunity after renovations to install a piece of software called the Earthright Energy Dashboard. Earthright monitors water, gas, and electricity trends and charts them on a public-facing dashboard for all to see.

    Earthright serves two purposes, the first of which is to inform students, staff, and visitors about utility consumption rates at Marilyn I. Walker. There are a couple of screens that display statistics in relatable and interesting terms, like how many swimming pools worth of water have been saved from one month to the next. By showing people how utilities are consumed over time, it may influence them to change their habits as a group and see what impact they can make!

    The second function is to provide feedback to staff on how the building is operating. Facilities Management has been able to tailor automated systems around occupancy and seasonality requirements, which ensure that utilities are only used as they are actually needed. For example the lights are generally shut off at 11:00 pm and turned back on around 6:00 am, but there are also offices on motion sensor systems, and photocells are used to ensure that lights automatically dim as sunlight becomes available.

    The Earthright Energy Dashboard is a simple way to inform the public about how consumption habits impact the spaces where they learn and work. Newer buildings like MIWSFPA are sustainable by design, but we as occupants have the final say on how much water, gas, and electricity gets used. The next time you are walking along St. Paul Street, stop in and check out part of what Brock is doing to carry out its commitment to stewardship and environmental sustainability!

    Categories: Blog, Experiential Education, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock