Innovative Partnership

  • Trail Management through Collaboration: Reflections and Aspirations

    The Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative (TATI) is an innovative partnership between Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC), and the Ontario Trails Council (OTC). The purpose of the partnership is to develop and enhance the parks and trails network operated by the NPC through research and collaboration. To date, the partnership team has developed strategies that support the NPC’s ability to manage park and trail assets to provide safe, enjoyable, and sustainable recreation opportunities for all. Most recently, two members of the TATI team, Garrett Hutson (Project Chair, Brock University) and Corey Burant (Program Manager of Forest Health, Niagara Parks Commission) were invited to discuss their experiences working on the partnership to Communities in Bloom, a Canadian non-profit dedicated to the improvement of civic spaces. I had an opportunity to catch up with both Hutson and Burant to further discuss the partnership and their joint presentation to Communities in Bloom.

    When asked about the significance of presenting the work of the TATI partnership to a larger audience, both Hutson and Burant acknowledged the utility and endless impacts of collaboration between agencies. Burant specifically acknowledged the challenges that are facing many parks and trails operators, including those at Communities in Bloom, as a result of increased visitor pressure from COVID-19, and discussed how important it is to share resources to commonly faced challenges for these agencies. Further, Hutson commented on the power of partnerships such as the TATI, musing that participants in similar partnerships are likely to benefit from the insight he and Burant shared about collaborative work during their presentation.

    Switching gears to focus on the TATI partnership itself, I asked both Hutson and Burant about their experiences working together, and what aspect of the partnership they found to be most valuable. For Hutson, the opportunity to work with other agencies such as the NPC and OTC was fulfilling, as was the ability to witness graduate students gain invaluable networking and professional opportunities outside of the traditional graduate program format. For Burant, the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from Brock is highly valuable for the NPC, stating that the quality and professionalism of the Brock contingent has been most impressive to him.

    When asked about which partnership projects have been most impactful, Hutson expressed his excitement for the recent Trail Re-Alignment project, which focussed on visitor wayfinding and experience in the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve. Due to the work of the partnership team, the NPC was able to receive significant grant funding from the TD Friends of the Environment program, and the TATI-recommended work is currently underway.

    Looking forwards to future partnership achievements, Burant indicated he was most excited about the next project for the TATI team, which is to create a Management Strategy for the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve. This strategy will help guide Niagara Parks in ensuring that the environmentally sensitive attributes of the Niagara Glen are protected for generations to come while also providing high quality recreation opportunities for the people of Niagara and beyond.

    As for the future of the partnership? Hutson says: “We have all the right people at the table to continue to get valuable work completed, which will both add recreation vibrancy to Niagara Parks as well as protect trail environments for future generations.”

    Interested in learning more about the Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative? Visit the ESRC’s website here.

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Innovative Partnership, Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative

  • TATI Partnership Update: 2021 Lessons from the Last Year

    The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant implications to the outdoor recreation and tourism industry, as many parks and protected areas experienced significant increases in visitors as Ontarians looked locally for their recreation. As a result, the Trail Assets and Tourism Intiative (TATI) partnership, which is comprised of members from Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, the Niagara Parks Commission, and the Ontario Trails Council, focused their efforts on addressing issues relating to visitor experience and safe access to outdoor recreation spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Parks and protected areas agencies experienced significant increases in visitation due to travel limitations that saw Ontarians turn domestically for their vacationing and recreation needs. For example, the Niagara Parks Commission experienced a 43.9­­­­% increase in visitors in 2020 in comparison with the previous year. Other agencies, such as Ontario Parks, have experienced such high levels of day-use visitation in 2020 and 2021 that they have instituted a new day-use reservation policy to reduce crowding and enforce capacity limits at 17 provincial parks.   to reduce crowding and enforce capacity limits at 17 provincial parks.

    In 2020, the TATI partnership published a list of best-practice principles for visiting parks and trails during COVID-19 for the public to consider when engaging in outdoor recreation. These recommendations are still highly relevant to all visitors, as it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to a safe and enjoyable experience while protecting natural areas for future users. As parks and trails continue to experience high levels of visitation in 2021, the TATI partnership team has updated the recommendations made in 2020 to best address the current issues facing protected areas. These areas are environmentally sensitive and require the assistance from all park and trail users to ensure they remain enjoyable for generations to come.

    These guidelines are as follows:

    1. Follow current public health advice
      1. Maintain physical distancing (2 meters) from individuals outside your household and wear a mask or face covering in crowded areas where physical distancing may not be possible. Even if you have received a full vaccine series, following this recommendation is important to keep both yourself and those around you safe.
      2. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and self-isolate. Get tested and do not visit parks or trails.
      3. Follow directions relating to outdoor gathering limits and avoid crowded spaces. If you arrive at a park or trail and it is too busy, visit another location or return at an off-peak time.
    2. Be prepared.
      1. Whether visiting a park or trail for a day or a week, check the agency’s website or contact by phone to learn about how COVID-19 may have changed their operations. Due to high levels of visitation, many agencies now require reservations for all day users to avoid over-crowding, which causes damage to natural environments and impacts visitor experiences.
      2. Be prepared for limited facilities and services. Some areas may not have the capacity to offer washrooms or garbage services. It is your responsibility to be prepared to mitigate the need for these services.
    3. Follow all rules and regulations.
      1. As a result of high levels of visitation, many areas have implemented new rules and regulations to further protect parks and trails and the surrounding environment. Obey all rules and regulations regardless of whether they’re being actively enforced. Engaging in depreciative visitor behaviour harms both the environment and the ability for others to enjoy their experiences, which often results in further limitations and rules. Remember, it is your responsibility to know and follow the rules and regulations of the area you’re visiting.
    4. Be a park or trail steward.
      1. Our parks and trails serve all of us, and they need our help. Be a park or trail steward by obeying rules, following Leave No Trace principles, and reducing the overall impact of your visit wherever possible. Local parks and trails have helped people cope with the pandemic. We all must do our part to give back to the areas that have been instrumental in helping us to stay healthy during this challenging time.

    This post was written in conjunction with John Foster, a Masters student and research assistant on the Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative partnership.

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative

  • Partnership for Freshwater Resilience Research Participant Webinar

    Blog Contributor: Jillian Booth

    The Brock-WWF Canada Partnership for Freshwater Resilience held a research participant webinar on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021 to present the results of the social network analysis performed on the flood planning network of the St. John River Basin.

    The research lead, Dr. Julia Baird, introduced the members of the partnership and the work that has been done in the St. John River Basin thus far. The participants were informed that the results presented in this webinar build off the preliminary results previously presented by the partnership during the summit they held this past June 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the webinar was held virtually through a live stream where participants remained anonymous to meet confidentiality requirements.

    The Vice President of Resilient Habitats at WWF-Canada and the co-lead of the partnership, Simon Mitchell, explained the importance of the partnership’s work in building freshwater resilience and stewardship in New Brunswick and across Canada. This highlighted the importance of how knowledge mobilization can improve governance of a watershed and the surrounding community and environment. Social network analysis is useful as it can identify opportunities to collaborate and catalyze thinking into action and how to facilitate this moving forward.

    The student research lead, Bridget McGlynn, presented the results of the study, explaining that social network analyses are used to study how people and organizations are connected and can identify the range and types of connection, in this case in communication, and collaboration. It was explained that understanding these structures can help add and transform decision-making systems to maximize the benefits received. Disclosing that the resulting network structures of the study do not capture the full picture as there were some non-respondents and discrepancies between respondents in terms of perspectives.

    The results from the social network analysis found that there is communication throughout the entire basin, however, municipalities tend to communicate with other government agencies, and similarly, non-government organizations (NGOs) and watershed organizations tend to communicate more with each other than with others. In terms of collaboration throughout the basin, it is often happening within parts of the basin (upper, middle, or lower) with less collaboration between different parts of the basin. Organizations that work across multiple parts of the basin are thus important to whole-basin collaboration. The results from key informant interviews were used to identify key tasks to improve flood planning on a watershed scale. It was found that there is a lot of assessment work, knowledge sharing, and communication, and less application of these efforts through projects on the ground.

    Moving forward, the connection between task engagement and effectiveness will be further analyzed due to the high interest expressed by participants during the webinar. Efforts to improve collaboration in flood planning in the St. John River Basin should focus on sharing the lessons learned between key actors to ensure long-term success. This includes addressing the current disconnects between upper, middle, and lower basin organizations that are further compounded by political boundaries especially between Maine, Quebec, and News Brunswick. Also, collaboration between upriver and down river organizations is needed, considering a good chunk of flooding comes from upriver. In addition, more support is needed for organizations to make stronger connections to the surrounding community through webinars and workshops. The findings from this study can be applied to build resilience across Canada against other climate change impacts, such as the increase in droughts.

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor

  • The Brock-WWF Partnership for Freshwater Resilience

    Blog Contributor: Jillian Booth

    The St. John River, the longest in Eastern Canada, flows through a variety of landscapes along its 700 km length with its headwaters located in the province of Quebec and state of Maine and empties into the Bay of Fundy located in the province of New Brunswick (CRI, 2011). It acts as an international boundary between Canada and the USA with a population of approximately 513,000 people that are evenly distributed between rural and urban areas (Plummer et al., 2016). The Wolastoqiyik or Maliseet people, Indigenous to the St. John River valley have named the area Wolastoq or W’aslustuk meaning “beautiful and bountiful river” in the Maliseet language (Currie et al.,2020). The river and its surrounding watershed act as the economic powerhouse for New Brunswick supporting local communities through their agriculture, forestry, fishing, and energy sectors (WWF-Canada, 2020). The basin has been classified as a priority region for the Government of Canada under the Pan-Canadian approach to transforming Species at Risk conservation in Canada, as it is home to multiple species at risk and acts as a nature-based solution to climate change with its ability to store carbon from its high levels of soil carbon and forest biomass (Arabian J et al., 2019).

    In New Brunswick, spring flooding is a common occurrence and every year the entire Wolastoq/St. John River is vulnerable to two types of flooding: ice-jam flooding and open-water flooding (Fraser, 2019). Ice – jam flooding usually occurs in the areas of Edmundston, Grand Fall, Perth-Andover, and the Woodstock from ice chunks getting stuck on something while flowing down the river causing water to build up behind the ice (Fraser, 2019). Whereas open water flooding typically occurs below the Mactquac Dam in the Fredericton, Maugerville, Jemseg, and Saint John areas when the river is overwhelmed by the excess water produced by snowmelt (Fraser, 2019). Recently, a record-setting open-water flood occurred in 2018 that resulted in millions of dollars in property damage specifically in the Fredericton and Saint John regions (Cox, 2021). Increasing water levels destroyed homes, cottages, and businesses displacing 1,600 residents for months in some cases (Fraser, 2019). This flooding reoccurred in the spring of 2019 damaging homes and restricting access to certain communities due to washed-out roads raising local concerns that action needed to be taken to reduce the impacts of flooding (Cox, 2021). 

    The 5-year Brock-WWF Canada partnership for freshwater resilience was initiated in June 2019, designed to better understand how to build resilience in Canada with the increasing threats and climate change impacts on our freshwater resources (Brock University, 2021). The partnership aims to advance our understanding and promote the application of freshwater resilience and stewardship by 1) encouraging the co-creation of knowledge between researchers and practitioners and 2) identifying innovative and evidence-based approaches for management and governance (Brock University, 2019). The partnership’s initial focus is working to address the lack of communication/collaboration among actors involved in flooding planning within the Wolastoq/St. John River basin. This will be achieved not only through research but also through community engagement and events to better inform evidence-based decisions (World Wildlife Fund Canada, 2020). The lessons learned can be applied to efforts across Canada, providing a foundation for evidence-based decisions, promoting opportunities for innovation, and encouraging the use of best practices (Brock University, 2019). 

    References:

    Arabian J., Currie j., and Snider J. (2019).Wildlife Protection Assessment: A national habitat crisis. World Wildlife Fund Canada. Toronto, Canada. https://wwf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/habitat-report-english-web-53019.pdf

    Brock and WWF-Canada partnership to Address Freshwater Challenges. (2020, June 17). World Wildlife Fund Canada. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from Brock and WWF-Canada Partnership to Address Freshwater Challenges – WWF.CA

    Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI). (2011, July). The Saint John River: A State of the Environment Report. University of New Brunswick. St.+John+river+report1-min.pdf (squarespace.com)

    Cox, A. (2021, March 11). New Brunswick launches flood monitoring platform ahead of spring melt. CBC News. New Brunswick launches flood monitoring platform ahead of spring melt | CBC News

    Fraser, E. (2019, March 23). What you need to know about possible flooding in New Brunswick. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/new-brunswick-flooding-st-john-river-basin-2018-1.5051577

    Memorandum of Understanding Between World Wildlife Fund Canada and Environmental Sustainability Research Centre Brock University. 2019. May 17th. Brock University. Retrieved March 23, 2020

    Partnership for freshwater resilience. Brock University. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from Partnership for Freshwater Resilience – Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (brocku.ca)

    Plummer, R., Baird, J., Krievins, K., & Mitchell, S. (2016). Improving river health: insights into initiating collaboration in a transboundary river basin. International Journal of River Basin Management, 14(1), 119–132. https://doi.org/10.1080/15715124.2015.1080717

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Workshop 8: Implementation

    Blog Contributor: Michaela Jennings

    On February 18th, 2021, Niagara Adapts held its 8th workshop in a 9-workshop series. The workshop was held online via the Microsoft Teams platform, adhering to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. The focus of the workshop was “implementation”. As the 7 municipal partners are working towards the final stages in their climate adaptation planning process, implementation is a key step. It breaks down how an action, project, or initiative will be implemented in the community.

    The workshop was held for the 7 municipal partners that are participating in Niagara Adapts. The workshop began with an introduction of the two facilitators of the event from Savanta Consulting. The facilitators are experienced with climate change adaptation planning processes, and they provided valuable insights throughout their presentation.

    The presentation progressed with an introduction to implementation, using case study examples to show how it has been approached in other Canadian municipalities. The workshop highlighted the challenges to implementation, and the importance it has in creating an effective climate change adaptation plan. The examples provided insight into how implementation can be incorporated, as well as the context-specific approaches that have been used.

    The presentation continued with a walk through of “how to implement” and what to consider when moving forward with this step. They discussed resources, funding, timelines, monitoring and evaluation, and prioritization. Each municipality will have a different approach to implementing projects in their community. By understanding what is available for the project, and what may be needed, this allows for municipalities to approach implementation processes with a sense of clarity.

    The workshop included a discussion around implementation tools that can be used, and where they may be appropriate in the planning process (marketing, pilot projects, external communication, and internal communication). This discussion was then paired with a collaborative activity examining implementation tools. By working together, the attendees worked with the facilitators to discuss the advantages and disadvantages that may arise for each of the tools.

    The workshop concluded with an open discussion between the facilitators and the audience. The workshop was beneficial as it emphasized best-practices and opportunities for implementation. It was also an opportunity for the partners to evaluate their own climate adaptation planning processes and how implementation will look for their municipality. By providing them with resources and tools, this workshop was an insightful and informative event for the Niagara Adapts partnership and will be further elaborated on in the panel discussion on implementing climate change adaptation plans held on March 11, 2021.

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts

  • Panel Discussion on Implementing Climate Change Adaptation Plans

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre’s (ESRC) Sustainability Seminar Series will continue on Thursday, March 11th, 2021 at 11am EST with a panel about implementing climate change adaptation plans. We will be joined by three experienced professionals who have been an integral part of making their local communities more resilient to the effects of climate change. This event is in partnership with Niagara Adapts, one of the ESRC’s innovative partnerships that is focussed on leveraging resources and expertise to support collaborative climate change adaptation, planning, and implementation within seven municipalities in the Niagara Region. The Niagara Adapts partnership is led by Dr. Jessica Blythe, who will be the moderator for this exciting event.

    The panelists include Katie Thompson from the City of Barrie, Jacob Porter from the City of Thunder Bay, and Joanna Eyquem from the Intact Centre.

    Katie Thompson is a Risk Management Official in the Business Performance and Environmental Sustainability Group with the City of Barrie. Her focus areas include Drinking Water Source Protection, Climate Change Adaptation and, assessing corporate Environmental Obligations. She has a unique perspective on the interrelations between the science foundation, action framework, and implementation aspects of the Climate Change Adaption Plans.

    Jacob Porter is the Climate Adaptation Coordinator for the City of Thunder Bay, guiding implementation of the City’s Climate Adaptation Strategy. His work spans across emergency preparedness, asset management, and community planning; depending on collaborations across city departments, partnerships with community organizations, and engagement with city residents. Over the past year, adaptation efforts in Thunder Bay have focused on deeper recognition of the social impacts of climate events, and greater involvement in emergency response planning.

    Joanna Eyquem is a recognized expert in Climate Adaptation, Flood and Erosion Management and River Restoration, with 20 years experience both in Canada and the UK. Joanna’s focus areas at the Intact Centre include: (1) mobilizing flood-resilience for homes, new and existing communities, and commercial real estate; (2) protection and restoration of natural infrastructure to mitigate climate risk, (3) developing programs to limit risk of extreme heat; (4) promoting programs to limit wildfire risk; and (5) incorporating climate risk into institutional investing, credit rating assessments and securities disclosure.

    The Panel Discussion on Implementing Climate Change Adaptation Plans is sure to be informative and educational for all. There will also be a question period towards the end of the event to provide the audience with a chance to ask more specific questions and further engage with the panelists.

    Click here to join the live event on Thursday, March 11th at 11am. If you can’t make it, check out the ESRC’s YouTube channel which will feature the recording of the event within a week of it going live.

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts, SSAS Program

  • Building better research through community partnerships

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    On January 26th, 2020 Brock hosted a workshop called “Building better research through community partnerships”, which was the 11th event in the Building Better Research series – a collaboration between Brock’s Office of Research Services and the Library. The panelists included the following faculty and staff members:

    • Meaghan Rusnell – Director, Government and Community Engagement
    • Julie Rorison – Manager, Community Relations
    • Madelyn Law – Associate Provost, Teaching and Learning; Professor of Health Sciences
    • Sid Segalowitz – Professor Emeritus and Director, Centre for Lifespan Development Research
    • Ryan Plummer – Professor and Director, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC)

    All panelists detailed their experiences of conducting research through community partnerships, including Dr. Plummer who discussed the benefits of collaborating with the ESRC’s partners. The Centre now has over eight formalized agreements with partners such as the Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative with the Niagara Parks Commission, the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience with World Wildlife Fund-Canada, and the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab, to name a few.

    According to Dr. Plummer, here are three main benefits of working with community partners:

    • The ability to co-create knowledge in a way that honours and gives a voice to the partners in the community and bridges the gap between scientific knowledge and the needs of the local partners and communities. Dr. Plummer provided a recent example of how collaborating with partners is the key to meeting the needs of the community. He explained that the ESRC’s partners at Niagara Parks were dealing with a dramatic increase in tourism at the start of the pandemic due to the public wanting to get out of their homes and explore local greenspaces.

    Instead of having around 220,000 people visit the Niagara Glen per season, the added need for greenspaces led to over 300,000 visitors during the 2020 season. Dr. Plummer mentioned it was important to quickly pivot within the partnership to start responding to an acute community need to support people’s wellbeing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  This was possible due to a good working relationship with the partners at the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC), and they were able to create a video that showcased best practices for trail safety amid COVID-19 and beyond.

    • Every year (pre-pandemic), Master of Sustainability students go on a field trip to visit the ESRC’s community partners such as NPC, the Town of Lincoln, and Vineland, to name a few. During this trip, students have the ability to meet with partners and receive an incredible hands-on experience. This important fieldtrip can even inspire students to take on research related to the partners, which brings us to our last main benefit of engaging in community partnerships. To learn more about this engaging experience and how learning outside the classroom is beneficial for students, read this blog post.
    • Through meeting with partners and attending partnership events, thesis students within the MS program are able to look at concerns and needs that partners have and can tailor their research to address these needs. For example, Angela Mallette, a past graduate student, presented her research regarding Niagara Parks. Within two weeks of successfully defending her thesis, two Niagara Parks managers at the partnership’s bi-annual roundtable were able to implement her recommendations. Ultimately, student research related to partnerships has the power to impact hundreds of thousands of people in the community and beyond.

    All in all, engaging in community partnerships can lead to a number of impactful research projects and help our community by making a difference in the environment while also enhancing the student experience.

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Event, Innovative Partnership, Town of Lincoln

  • Assessing Higher Education Institutions (HEI) – Community Partnerships Performance, Monitoring & Evaluation

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    Partnerships between HEIs and communities are becoming increasingly important worldwide. More focus is therefore being placed on how these partnerships are created, how they transform over time, and they can achieve. Assessing the performance of HEI-community partnerships is essential for understanding their value (social, economic, and environmental value), accountability and transparency.

    Brock researchers carried out a national study to understand HEI-community partnerships and their performance in Canada. All HEIs in Canada with an explicit mandate related to community relationships were identified. A questionnaire was distributed to their offices, with the results illuminating the present state of partnership efforts. The key findings of this first part of this study include:

    • 25% of HEIs do not employ any monitoring or evaluation of their community partnerships
    • 67% of HEI community-focussed offices have an operating budget of $50,000 or more
    • 67% reported having over 30 active partnerships at their institutions

    A second questionnaire, sent to individuals at HEIs who are involved in HEI-community partnerships, as well as community partners, looked at how performance of partnerships should be assessed. A three-fold framework (inputs, process, outcomes) of indicators and measures was validated. The key findings of this second part of the study include what the most important inputs, processes, and outcomes are for effective partnership performance:

    • Motivation is the most important input
    • Communication is the most important process
    • Learning is the most important outcome

    These results bridge an important gap in the literature and you can learn more by accessing the Assessing Partnership Performance, Monitoring, & Evaluation webpage or by the reading the most recent publication by the ESRC research team in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, The issue of performance in Higher education institution – Community partnerships: A Canadian perspective.

    To learn more we included some helpful links below:

    Categories: Applied Research, Blog, Collaborations, Innovative Partnership

  • 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

  • 2020 Innovative Partnership Year-in-Reviews

    As 2020 comes to an end, we are reflecting on the accomplishments that have been made and important goals that have been achieved through our innovative partnerships. This year was full of ups and downs for the global community and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock was not immune to these turbulent times.

    However, we are proud that we were still able to launch three innovative partnerships to assist in moving forward issues of global importance. We worked with our existing partners to achieve important goals in order to showcase the importance of sustainability in our constantly changing world. We believe that the work put in by our partners this year is a true testament to their resilience and willingness to persevere through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click on each partnership year-in-review below to learn more about what we’ve all been up to this past year!

    Brock-Lincoln Living Lab

    Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative

    Charter with Facilities Management

    Niagara Adapts

    Trails, Assets, and Tourism Initiative

    Partnership for Freshwater Resilience

    The Prudhommes Project

     

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts, Prudhommes Project, Sustainability at Brock