SSAS Student Contributor

  • Student Research Highlight: Transdisciplinary Research in Action

    Blog Contributor: Bridget McGlynn

    Bridget McGlynn

    Sustainability science has three defining characteristics: it recognizes the interconnectedness of human and ecological systems, it asks solution-oriented questions, and uses a transdisciplinary approach. In reflecting on my research, I must say it is an absolute joy and a privilege to be a master’s student in a research centre that emphasis all three components of sustainability science, as it has allowed me to directly engage with all aspects for my thesis research 

    I am a student in the Advancing Environmental Stewardship research group working under the supervision of Dr. Ryan Plummer and Dr. Julia Baird and my thesis research is embedded in the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience to address climate change resilience and governance in the St. John River watershed in New Brunswick. My portion of the project is investigating the current collaborative governance arrangement at two geographic scales with the goal of forwarding system understanding and flood governance in the region. Since I began working within this research project, the entire process has been transdisciplinary. From Brock researchers attending flooding resilience and climate workshops in the St John River watershed to our WWF partners joining the discussion for my proposal presentation, joint goals have been prioritized.  

    As a master’s student preparing a thesis, there is an expectation my research will address a gap in the academic literature, and this gap provides the academic rationale and guides the research questions for the project. During my proposal presentation, I was asked to describe the tangible and practical contributions of my project. My response to this question was based within my perspective that after months of literature review and proposal writing has been heavily fixated on that research gap. While I spoke to the tangible outcomes and value of the proposed data collection, I only articulated a fraction of the value of the project. Following my response, our WWF partners elaborated and described how the entire research process, not only the end data collected or workshop, is providing great value to their colleagues. Simon Mitchell’s description of why this project is important on various levels reaffirmed the usefulness and importance of good sustainability science. Having the opportunity to participate in transdisciplinary research projects as a student is an invaluable experience that has already provided many lessons and I imagine will provide many more before I finish. 

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor, Student Contributor

  • A Student’s Perspective of the Master of Sustainability Graduate Program at Brock University

    Blog contributor: April Sorenson

    My name is April Sorenson and I am currently a Master of Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS) Co-op graduate student at Brock. I am from Reno, Nevada and am a dual citizen in the U.S. and Canada. I received my undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in Landscape Architecture in 2016. After graduation, I worked for Stantec Consulting for two and a half years and earned my LEED GA accreditation. Throughout my studies and work experience, I quickly became aware of the impact that we are having on the earth. As a result, I became increasingly interested in sustainability and began looking into grad programs. I chose this program because of its location on a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, its scholarship and fellowship opportunities, and its experiential education components.

    I have recently completed the coursework for the program and defended a proposal for my Major Research Paper (MRP). My MRP is titled, What is a sustainable city? An analysis of the current sustainable urban rating systems and cities that are leading the way. I am very excited to learn more about sustainable urban design, and I plan on sharing the findings of my research with local municipalities.

    The SSAS program has been an enriching experience that has answered many of the questions I had about sustainability and climate change. This program provides well-rounded coursework that focuses on a transdisciplinary perspective to sustainability science. The curriculum provides a good balance of theory and practice. In addition to coursework, I had the opportunity to work as a Research Assistant for the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab. I was able to expand my knowledge on green infrastructure, low impact development, community improvement plans and knowledge mobilization. This position also helped me gain valuable professional development skills by allowing me to work directly with sustainability professionals at the Town of Lincoln. Working closely with partners at Brock University and the Town of Lincoln was a very rewarding experience because I learned how to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a real-world setting.

    Perhaps the most rewarding part of my experience in the SSAS program is the relationships I have with my fellow peers. Our conversations have expanded my thinking to new levels, and we have supported each other through every obstacle. I know that each of them will contribute to a greener world through their sustainability efforts. The knowledge I gained in this program, along with lifelong friendships, have provided me with a foundation for a rewarding career in sustainability.

     

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • My Experience in the Master of Sustainability Program

    Bani Maini

    Blog Contributor: Bani Maini

    It is a daunting task to get up and leave the only way of life you’ve known to move to a new country. In my case, I left India to come to Brock and pursue sustainability science. I enrolled in the Master of Sustainability program in the MRP stream. The past eight months have been filled with academic and experiential engagement with sustainability and have exceeded all my expectations. Through classes, a research assistantship, and a Major Research Paper (MRP) project, I was able to explore my interests and develop my research skills. All the while I have been here, I have had tremendous support from the ESRC department.

    The Fall and Winter semesters included courses on foundations of sustainability, research methods, climate change transformation and adaptation, opportunities to learn project management skills, and engage with wonderful speakers and their work through transdisciplinary seminars. The breadth and depth of the academic courses introduced me to sustainability science in the most exciting way possible.

    As a graduate research assistant, I received constant support from Dr. Ryan Plummer and Amanda Smits in their research work. I had a great opportunity to work on an environmental stewardship project through Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI) partnership between the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) and Brock University. The project was supervised by Dr. Sherman Farhad, who has been a great mentor. Through additional support from Dr. Julia Baird and Dr. Plummer, the project has been a major learning experience which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    In the pursuit of studying marine environments, I was given the full opportunity to explore my research interests. Dr. Jessica Blythe, who is supervising my research, supported all the MRP development phases while also being a constant source of motivation for me. While working on my MRP on area-based conservation in marine environments, I have built on my knowledge, and my determination to address some of the most challenging problems that affect the oceans has grown deeper.

    Despite how daunting it was, the ESRC provided the support and opportunity I needed to assimilate myself into a new environment. It has been inspiring to see everyone at the ESRC working tirelessly towards the common goal of betterment of the environment and society. This turned me into an optimist, and I have decided to follow their footsteps to work towards the common goal. Now, I look forward to developing my MRP research. ​

     

    Categories: Blog, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • 3 Things I’ve Learned in the Masters of Sustainability Program

    Erica Harper

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    After one year in the Master of Sustainability program at Brock, I’ve learned a lot about myself, the world around me, and how to be the best environmental steward I can be. Brock has provided me with the opportunity to develop not only as a student, but as a person in this everchanging and complex world we live in. For context, I have a business degree from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia where I specialized in marketing because I have a passion for communicating important information into easy-to-read messages. To be honest, I never imagined going back to school when I graduated in 2018, but the state of the world, its animals, and ecosystems was troubling to me. I wanted to make a difference specifically in the corporate world because I knew that corporations were responsible for a significant portion of the world’s pollution. Therefore, to make this positive difference that I so badly wanted to make, I had to gain knowledge, skills, and connections that would allow me to do. This is where my journey with Brock’s Masters of Sustainability program began.

    Here are three important lessons I’ve learned in the program so far:

    • Imposter syndrome is normal, but it cannot take over your thoughts

    As someone without a science background, I was nervous to be perceived as an “imposter” or as someone who simply didn’t fit in as a business major. That being said, on my first day in Dr. Jessica Blythe’s Foundations of Sustainability Science course, she said everything I needed to hear to be a confident and prepared student in the program. She spoke about imposter syndrome and how it’s normal to feel as though you’re not ready or even qualified for the next step in your life, but to ignore those thoughts and to keep going because she knew that everyone in the program had what it took be successful. Simply having a professor telling their students that they believe in them and that they belong is enough to encourage stressed, confused, and worried students as they try to get used to a new school and program. I felt as though Dr. Blythe was speaking right to me even though she didn’t know much about me yet, and that was the most comforting thing to me. I learned that she was definitely right – imposter syndrome is normal, but the most important thing is to not let it take over your thoughts and be confident in your abilities. Even in rooms where I didn’t feel like I belonged, I forced myself to speak up, ask questions, and be as engaged as I could be, which is a lesson I will take with me no matter where I end up after graduation.

    • Sustainability of all kinds cannot be achieved without collaboration

    Collaboration is a word that is used so often in various contexts that it almost tends to lose its meaning. This program really showed me what collaboration was: working with people from different academic and cultural backgrounds through complex problems in society to achieve a well-rounded solution. Sustainability itself is extremely complicated because it is applicable to most fields of study, namely public health, sport management, ecology, urban design, and political science to name a few. The papers and research that we were exposed to throughout the year in our many classes including environmental sustainability education, research methods, transdisciplinary seminar, and climate change adaptation & transformation have demonstrated how interdisciplinary sustainable solutions are. Solutions cannot be thought of in a vacuum and collaboration is essential to ensure that the main pillars of sustainability are considered: social, economic, political, and environmental. Since most people are not an expert in all four areas, working together as a group of sustainability scientist with a wide variety of backgrounds proves to be the best way to come to a sustainability-oriented solution to any problem. I will continue to value different opinions, suggestions, and frameworks as I go through this program and enter the workforce because collaboration is a skill that is crucial in all aspects of life.

    • You don’t have to fit into a “sustainability mould”

    Starting a master’s program can be intimidating at first and fitting in with what seems “normal” within the world of sustainability can be especially tempting. I’ve learned to resist that urge and to do everything I possibility can to be sustainable without being too hard on myself. Of course, it was important for me to be aware of my own carbon footprint, but it was also important for me to take a step back and realize that I’m doing the best I can, even when the carbon footprint calculator tells me that if everyone lived like me, we would need 2.5 planets to survive. Once I had the opportunity to get to know my professors and learn more about the scholars in the field of sustainability science, I noticed that there are so many ways to fit under the “sustainable” label. It’s not just about never driving your car, being 100% zero-waste, only buying second hand, or only purchasing from 100% sustainable companies – it’s about doing what you can with the resources and knowledge you have in the moment. Although I aspire to do all of those things one day, for now my life looks a little more like this: walking instead of driving when possible, aiming to be low waste (not completely zero-waste), searching for thrift stores that I enjoy, and researching sustainable companies to buy from when I can. Living this way is what works for me at the moment and although I am constantly striving to be a little more sustainable with each passing month, I now know that trying to be the perfect image of sustainability is not sustainable for me right now.

    Whether you are an incoming student in the program or someone who is simply curious about learning more about sustainability, I hope this article was helpful to you! Brock has been a great place for me to grow as a student and as a person in ways that I could not have envisioned a few years ago. I’m glad I made the leap into the Masters of Sustainability program and I’m excited to see where it will take me in the years to come!

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Master of Sustainability Reflection

    Nolan Kelly

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

    Background

    It is very hard to believe that it has been 8 months since I started my journey as a Master of Sustainability student at Brock. Although I am all done my in-class portion of the program, I still have the Major Research Paper and co-op placement to look forward to. While this is exciting, it also marks the end of my time attending classes at Brock University after 5 years here. As a result, I have decided to reflect on this time by looking back at how I got to where I am, and the influence that the program has had on me. The route I decided to take in my undergrad and masters was a little bit different, and I think that by highlighting my experience and the pathway I took, I can help other students who don’t know what to do next or need a little guidance. Hopefully this can also give students some perspective on the Master of Sustainability program itself to see if it is the right fit for them. This blog will reflect on my background, how I became interested in sustainability and some of the main takeaways that I have learned.

    Minor in Environmental Sustainability

    One of the most difficult and important decisions a person has to make is deciding what educational path they want to take. I was heavily torn between choosing the Sport Management program at Brock or choosing an environmentally based program elsewhere. I ended up choosing the Sport Management program and although I was happy with my decision, I was unsure of how I was going to have any environmental component to my education. During my first year I was thrilled to find out there was an environmental sustainability minor being introduced. I jumped on the opportunity and was really pleased with the amount of choice and diversity there was amongst these minor credits. The two introductory environmental courses were online and did a great job at building up my base of knowledge and first showed me the transdisciplinary aspect of sustainability. In researching this minor, I discovered that there were aspects of science, history, geography, sociology and political science that all came together to give me a better understanding of sustainability science. In fourth year, the contemporary environmental issues course that was the last mandatory credit needed for the environmental sustainability minor, really drew me in. The course was extremely engaging, informative, and left me feeling inspired every time I left. The combination of all the minor courses and especially this last course paved the way for me committing to the Master of Sustainability program.

    Sport Management

    As mentioned above, I came to Brock for their Sport Management program and I really enjoyed it. As I progressed with each year, I found myself drawing upon the knowledge I learned in my environmental sustainability minor and applying it to sport. By third and fourth year I really became interested in the intersection between sport and the environment and took sport management classes that would let me further explore this topic. There were also professors along the way that highlighted the importance of sustainability and the environment which furthered my interest in the topic. When I told people what I was minoring in most would have the same reaction of thinking it was an interesting topic but very different than my major. While I could see how many would think this, I saw the correlation between the two and wanted to explore the ways in which this gap between sport and the environment could be bridged. As a result, I researched the impact and reliance that sport has on the environment and the opportunities that exist within sustainability in sport. I took this interest into my master of sustainability program and decided to make it the central focus of the major research paper that I am writing this summer. While sport management is just one example, it highlights that sustainability has a place in everything.

    Takeaways

    My experience in the master of sustainability program has only solidified this as the transdisciplinary nature of the program was very evident. This allowed me to develop new perspectives in many different areas and further expand my knowledge in sustainability. At the start of the year I was a little reserved and felt like because my background was not more closely related with sustainability science, that it would be an area of weakness for me. However, this was not the case as I learned that my different background added to the conversation and offered a different perspective. While the imposter syndrome many students feel can be difficult to overcome, the professors did a great job at encouraging our ideas and reinforcing the transdisciplinary nature of sustainability. Collaborating with my cohort on projects and assignments was definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of the program. Not only were we able to play to our strengths and be creative but it was a great example of how sustainability works in the real world. We were able to further see this firsthand in our transdisciplinary seminars with professionals in the field. Without collaboration and different perspectives, sustainability could not be successful.

    Categories: Blog, Minor in Sustainability, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Niagara Adapts Partnership Presentations at Brock University

    Niagara Adapts Team Photo

    Niagara Adapts brings together seven municipalities within the Niagara Region of Ontario — Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St. Catharines and Welland, as well as the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock University, to tackle climate change in the Region.

    Blog Contributor: April Sorenson

    On February 25th, representatives from municipalities within the Niagara Region of Ontario came together to present to the current Master of Sustainability graduate students about an innovative partnership called Niagara Adapts. Niagara Adapts is a partnership that works to reduce the risks associated with climate change and increase resilience in the Niagara Region. On the 25th, a representative from each of seven municipalities gave a presentation on the specific climate change issues their municipality is facing along with their adaptation efforts.  

    Deanna Allen, the Climate Change Coordinator for the Town of Pelham, said that her municipality is predicting many challenges related to climate change. Some of these challenges include summer droughts leading to water supply shortages, more frequent episodes of rain resulting in severe washouts and flooding, a higher likelihood of experiencing heat stress, freezing rain events that could damage hydro lines, and an increased demand for municipal services. Many of the other municipal representatives presented similar concerns. Olivia Groff, the Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator for St. Catharines, said that there have been 56 extreme weather warnings in the past two years alone.  

    Fortunately, several municipalities have already taken steps to adapt to climate change. James Sticca, Manager of Environmental Services at the City of Niagara Falls, outlined the steps they’ve taken to adapt to climate change, including a Rain Barrel Purchasing Program, a Low Flow Toilet Rebate Program, and a Water Monitoring Device Rebate Program. Many of the presenters were hopeful that through continued collaboration with Niagara Adapts and local communities, real progress will be made in adapting to climate change.  

    Municipal governments are at the front lines of climate change. Many are stepping up to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their residents. The Town of Lincoln, the Town of Pelham, St. Catharines, Welland and The City of Niagara Falls have provided more information about their climate change adaptation efforts and their contribution to Niagara Adapts on their websites.  

    These presentations are available online via the ESRC YouTube Channel. 

    Links to the climate vulnerability fact sheets can be found on the Niagara Adapts Website

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Interview with Shannon Fernandes, the Climate Change Coordinator at the Town of Lincoln, Ontario

    Shannon Fernandes – Climate Change Coordinator at the Town of Lincoln

    Blog Contributor: April Sorenson 

    I would like to introduce all of you to Shannon Fernandes, the Climate Change Coordinator at the Town of Lincoln. Shannon is helping Lincoln become a more resilient community by developing and implementing a climate change adaptation plan for the Town. Shannon graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Environmental Studies in Sustainability Management. She has experience in environmental consulting, community outreach and sustainable supply chain management. She is passionate about social and environmental sustainability, community engagement and making a positive impact on the world. In the questions below, Shannon explains her goals for the Town of Lincoln, the challenges she faces in her role, and the climate change adaptation progress in the Town 

    What are your main responsibilities as the Climate Change Coordinator? 

    My main responsibility as the Climate Change Coordinator is to focus on the planning and implementation of municipal climate change priorities. Primarily, this involves working closely with staff to develop the Town’s climate adaptation plan. Additionally, I contribute to several projects such as developing Green Infrastructure / Low-Impact Development Design Standards, participating in Niagara Adapts, and conducting community outreach. 

    What is your primary goal for the Town of Lincoln? 

    My primary goal for the Town of Lincoln is to build the Town’s capacity to adapt to climate change and extreme weather and to continue Lincoln’s efforts to develop a sustainable and livable community. In order to strengthen our ability to adapt and respond, it is important that we collaborate on innovative approaches for climate change adaptation, ground those approaches in municipal and academic expertise, and build relationships across sectors.  

    What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role?  

    The biggest challenge I face in my role is encouraging climate change literacy. It is important that staff and citizens understand the science, risks, vulnerabilities, and opportunities associated with climate change impacts in Lincoln.  

    To address this challenge, Lincoln partnered with Niagara municipalities and Brock University (through Niagara Adapts), which allows us to leverage resources and expertise, enable collaborative adaptation planning, reach out to residents and staff through surveys, and promote climate change awareness and action. It has been an incredible opportunity for Lincoln to be a part of this initiative and I look forward to continuing to work and learn alongside our communities, academic partners, and neighbours. 

    What are the greatest challenges Lincoln faces as a Town in regard to climate change? 

    Given the local nature of many climate impacts, like floods, extreme weather, heat alerts, or drought conditions, the Town’s greatest challenge is being the front line to manage risks, protect community safety, and promote economic, social, and environmental sustainability. To ensure the plan is robust enough to address the varied impacts of climate change, the climate adaptation plan will be primarily informed by diverse subject matter experts comprising the Adaptation Steering Committee. It is important that every department – Public Works, Community Services, Planning, Emergency Management, and Tourism and Economic Development is involved in the process. 

    What is the most important thing citizens of the Town can do to alleviate climate change? 

    There is a lot that Lincoln citizens can do to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  

    Firstly, installing green infrastructure to prevent stormwater from running down driveways and into storm drains is a great way to prevent flooding on your property; collecting water in rain barrels and water gardens also saves money on water bills. Disconnecting downspouts and planting rain gardens or trees are great ways to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

    Small actions include reducing singleuse plastics, conserving water, upgrading bulbs to LEDs, eating more plant-based meals, or taking public transit. In Niagara we have an abundance of growers and shopping locally is an excellent way to reduce environmental and water footprints. 

    Lastly, stay engaged! Talk to family members, friends, and neighbours about climate change, participate in community events, visit lincoln.ca to participate in surveys, public information nights, and council meetings about climate change. Elected officials need to know that climate change action is important to you. 

    Can you tell us more about the climate change adaptation plan that is underway at the Town of Lincoln? 

    The purpose of a climate adaptation plan is to prepare the Town of Lincoln to adapt to anticipated climatic change and extreme weather, thereby minimizing the severity of the resulting impacts. This will be achieved in the following manner: identification of the potential impacts related to climate change and extreme weather in Lincoln and the risk they pose to the Town, prioritized adaptation actions to reduce risk and vulnerability associated with climate change and extreme weather impacts, and the development of a detailed implementation plan.

    Input will be gathered from staff, Niagara Adapts, Council, the Stakeholder Advisory Group, and Lincoln citizens and businesses on an ongoing basis. 

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Learning to Learn Remotely

    Blog Contributor: Bridget McGlynn

    Students adjust to SSAS 5P12 in an online format (credit: Jessica Blythe)

    Brock University suspended face-to-face classes Friday, March 13th in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the end of the second semester for SASS Year 1 students was transitioned to a remote learning format. As a student in Scheme B (the thesis stream), I experienced the transition of SSAS 5P12 and SSAS 5P04 to an online platform, both of which were incredibly smooth!  

    SSAS 5P12 is the Climate Change Adaptation & Transformation course is led by Dr. Jessica Blythe and her course heavily emphasises class discussion, both when reflecting on weekly reading assignments and completing adaptation planning workshops. Our weekly seminar was transitioned by using a remote platform and the nature of the small Master of Sustainability program led to productive classes. Dr. Blythe’s smooth transition to delivering the course remotely allowed us to finish our final weeks of climate change transformation discussions and receive guidance on our final deliverables. 

    SSAS 5P04 is our transdisciplinary seminar that normally culminates in Year 1 students presenting research proposals prior to their committee meetings in April. These proposal presentations offer the opportunity to share with your professors and peers the independent work of the previous 3 months and receive feedback. As a student, the exercise is not only valuable because of the feedback received but is also exciting to see how your peer’s project conceptualizations have morphed from the initial ideas presented during whiteboard talks in November. Transitioning these presentations to a remote format involved adding narration to PowerPoint slides. While speaking into headphones is less invigorating then presenting to a live audience and listening to your own recorded voice can be somewhat unpleasant, this transition to sharing recorded presentations was very effective! As questions and comments were communally added to feedback forms, students were able to receive extensive feedback on their presentations – perhaps even more than a normal question period would have allotted for.  

    As a student, these altered class formats have been incredibly helpful as they have allowed me to continue progressing towards my degree despite the immense uncertainty. 

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Affirming Stewardship in Niagara Parks

    Blog Contributor: Bridget McGlynn

    This past week on March 12th, 2020, the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) ratified the stewardship plan “Nurturing environmental stewardship in the Niagara Parks: Strategic plan 2020-2030”. The ratification of the stewardship plan at the recent Commission meeting marks another accomplishment for the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI), a 5-year partnership between the NPC and Brock University. The co-creation of the stewardship plan by NPC and Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) began in April 2018 when the Memorandum of Understanding creating the EESI was signed. The goals and objectives in the 2020-2030 Stewardship Action Plan dovetail with the overarching NPC Strategic Plan. The stewardship action plan also incorporates operationalizing monitoring and evaluation strategies and will continue to push forward efforts for the co-creation and mobilization of knowledge.  

    At the commission meeting, both NPC’s Steve Barnhart, Senior Director, Parks, Environment & Culture, and the ESRC’s Dr. Ryan Plummer spoke to the ongoing success of the partnership. To date, the partnership has been invaluable for furthering quality environmental stewardship research and for closing the research to action gap. Multiple Master of Sustainability students have completed thesis research within the partnership and a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (Drs. Julia Baird, Marilyne Jollineau, Ryan Plummer) was secured to investigate approaches in monitoring and evaluating and the effectiveness of environmental stewardship initiatives in Niagara Parks. The partnership is committed to ensuring academic research is transformed into action, as demonstrated by the inaugural EESI partnership round table in Fall 2019, where Angela Mallette, a Master of Sustainability graduate, discussed her research findings with NPC staff and leadership. The partnership also seeks to broaden engagement with stewardship initiatives through continuing to enhance student learning through experiential education opportunities and increasing community participation and learning opportunities.  

    This commission meeting also included the signing Memorandum of Understanding between NPC, Brock University and Ontario Trails Council, demonstrating a continued commitment to innovative partnerships.  

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

  • Student Research Highlight: Participation in Trail Monitoring & Evaluation

    Blog Contributor: Bridget McGlynn

    On March 5th Samantha Witkowski, a current Master of Sustainability student at Brock, led a workshop in partnership with the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) to continue her research on participatory monitoring and evaluating processes. This workshop was made possible by the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI), a partnership between the NPC and Brock University. Hosted at the beautiful Niagara Glen Nature Centre, the workshop included a variety of stakeholders, such as community members, Niagara Parks staff, and ecology experts, who discussed management possibilities for the trails in the Niagara Glen. 

    The day began with coffee and a guided walk though trails in the Niagara Gorge for participants to enjoy and observe the trails prior to considering management practices. Our Niagara Parks guide spoke about the history of the Glen, current management practices, recent site improvements, and usage patterns. Upon completion of the hike, participants returned to the Nature Centre and the exciting discussions began! The Niagara Glen received an unprecedented number of visitors in Summer 2019, and as such much of the discussion revolved around ways in which Niagara Parks can manage the trails in the Niagara Glen while upholding their mandate of “Preserving and promoting the natural and cultural heritage along the Niagara River corridor”. Through their vision, Niagara Parks also aims to be an “innovative example of sustainability” and a “welcoming, accessible and inspiring place”. Consequently, brainstorming regarding management practices revolved around maintaining and improving current trail quality, encouraging visitor stewardship through education, and promoting alternative Niagara Parks trails. The varied backgrounds of the participants presented multiple perspectives on the current needs of the Glen, management priorities, and relevant key performance indicators. The workshop provided an excellent example of the transdisciplinary research being conducted at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) as it brought together diverse stakeholders to address a local, solution-based research question.

    Categories: Applied Research, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor