News

  • Panel Discussion: Exploring Careers in Sustainability

    On January 21st at 11AM, The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre’s Sustainability Seminar Series will continue with a panel discussion focused on exploring careers in the field of sustainability. This panel will be moderated by Marilyne Jollineau and will consist of four professionals that will share their experiences navigating the transition from graduate school into their current fields, how their co-op positions helped facilitate the transition, the key skills that have been the most helpful in their roles, and the challenges or opportunities they faced throughout their journey from graduate student to where they are today.

    The panelists include three SSAS alumni: Leaya Amey, Kelsey Scarfone, and Nicholas Fischer.

    Leaya Amey

    Leaya Amey graduated from the SSAS program in 2019 and is currently a Sustainability Reporting Specialist at Maple Leaf Foods Inc. In her role, Leaya leads the development of the Annual Sustainability Report and all communications related to the company’s sustainability performance to its key stakeholders through various channels.

     

     

     

     

     

    Kelsey Scarfone

    Kelsey Scarfone graduated from the SSAS program in 2017 and is now a Policy & Campaign Manager at Nature Canada, one of Canada’s oldest national nature charities. Through her role, Kelsey advances conservation across the country by advocating for the expansion of protected areas for lands, freshwater, and the oceans.

     

     

     

     

     

    Nicholas Fischer

    Nicholas Fischer graduated from the SSAS program in 2018 and is working at Conservation Ontario as a Policy & Planning Officer. Nicholas’ work focusses on policy subject areas that may impact conservation authority business, including: Integrated Watershed Management, Land Use Planning, Endangered Species, Water Quantity and Quality Management/Protection, and Environmental Assessment.

     

     

     

     

     

    Kara Renaud

    The panel will also include Kara Renaud who is the Supervisor of Career Education at Brock. Kara is a graduate from the Master of Education Program at Brock and as Supervisor of Career Education, Kara oversees the staffing and operations of CareerZone and supports the career development of students through 1:1 consultations and workshops.

     

     

     

     

     

    This panel will be extremely informative for anyone looking to secure a co-op or a full-time job in the field of sustainability and is definitely an event you do not want to miss! Join us live on January 21st at 11AM to learn more about working in sustainability and receive valuable advice from SSAS graduates by clicking this link.

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, SSAS Program

  • 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

  • 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

  • Interview with SSAS Co-op Students

    Our Master of Sustainability students have been hard at work during the summer and fall terms to complete their co-ops and major research papers. In this blog post, we interview four students who have either completed their co-op or are expected to complete it in the coming weeks. They will introduce their respective roles, responsibilities, how their courses in the SSAS program contributed to their success throughout their co-op placements, as well as how their role enriched their understanding of sustainability. The featured students are Pulkit Garg, Samantha Gauthier, Erica Harper, and Michaela Jennings and they will provide you with an idea of the various co-op roles available for Master of Sustainability candidates.

    Pulkit Garg

    Your title and the company you work for: ​Project Manager, Co-op at RBC

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? As the lead project manager for a regulatory project to serve Seniors (ages: 60+), I fulfilled a wide array of responsibilities including:

    • Leading and overseeing all project activities throughout the term
    • Developing and defining project deliverables
    • Building the project schedule, implementation plan, assessing business requirements, and conducting project reviews
    • Identifying and resolving project issues and risks
    • Determining when and how to escalate issues accordingly
    • Establishing and maintaining strong relationships with Sponsors, Senior Business Leads, third-party vendors, and other core members to meet project deliverables
    • Providing ongoing support – generating alternative solutions to the initially proposed recommendation when issues arise

    How did your course work in the Master of Sustainability program contribute to the success you experienced in your co-op role? The SSAS program has been pivotal to the success of my co-op because of its transdisciplinary and experiential nature involving complex problem solving, teamwork, and leadership. More importantly, the course on Project Management during the Winter 2020 term (SSAS 5P03) played a key role in my success at RBC as it provided a first-hand PM experience through a course consulting project, where we were tasked with addressing Lincoln’s irrigation concerns. Finally, my Masters’ research project (MRP) has taught me resilience and the importance of openness to feedback and continuous learning, along with research/analytical capabilities.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer that you hope to bring into your career? It is okay to feel uncomfortable and it is okay to fail. The important thing is to learn continuously and be open to feedback.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? ​My Co-op helped me to move out of the myopic view of sustainability that often gets regarded as “environmental sustainability”. Through a regulatory project aimed at improving banking services and safeguarding one of the most vulnerable segments of our society (seniors), I could leverage my sustainability background to improve the social and economic sustainability at a macro scale. My co-op also helped me to realize the important role that corporates (and specifically banks) can play in improving the sustainability in Canada.

    Sam Gauthier

    Your title and the company you work for: This summer, my placement as a survey student and inspector took place at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? During my placement I was responsible for two different surveys. The first survey was looking for invasive pests, such as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA). This took me to many beautiful places in the forests surrounding the Niagara region, and I even got to explore many of the local waterfalls. The second survey I was responsible for was looking at the peach and plum orchards sampling trees for Plum Pox Virus (PPV).

    How did your work relate to sustainability? Both of these surveys relate to sustainability through the health of ecosystems and of the people of Niagara. The spread of pests and viruses such as both the HWA and PPV can have detrimental effects to ecosystems, people, and even the economy. By monitoring these issues and managing outbreaks it allows us to maintain healthy environments and control future outbreaks.

    How did being a student in the SSAS program contribute to your success in your co-op role? Being a student in the SSAS program has given me the skills to be able to adapt to new situations. This co-op placement was unfamiliar to me but being a student in the SSAS program taught me how to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to adapt to new roles and work through tasks that are unfamiliar to me.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer that you hope to bring into your career? One thing that I took away from my co-op in relation to my career is to be open minded when looking for future job prospects. My co-op role was in a field that I am not familiar with (agriculture), but I learnt a lot and really enjoyed my time there. It will allow me to be more flexible when looking and applying for future jobs.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? My co-op role allowed me to enrich my understanding of sustainability through a different lens. It showed me that sustainability is used in many positions and that the opportunities are endless. This showed me that sustainability is a growing field and is needed in all industries in order to be successful.

     

    Erica Harper

    Erica Harper

    Your title and the company you work for: Sustainability Communications Specialist, The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre – Brock University

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? As a Sustainability Communications Specialist, I have a wide variety of responsibilities. For example, I am responsible for developing email, blog, and social media communications on behalf of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. These communications are sent to SSAS students, our community partners, as well as guest speakers for the virtual events that we host. Since I have marketing background, I have been involved in advertising the SSAS program through social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. One project that I’ve been working on is developing a “best practices” document for stakeholder communication during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    How did your course work in the Master of Sustainability program contribute to the success you experienced in your co-op role? My course work, specifically what I learned through my MRP, Foundations of Sustainability Science (SSAS 5P01), and Climate Change Adaptation (SSAS 5P12), has helped me to communicate complex topics in accessible language. These courses taught me how to write in a way that is effective and appropriate for the target audience, which is an essential skill in any communications role. Thanks to the courses I took in my first year of my master’s program, I am confident in my abilities to successfully tailor my communications about upcoming events, social media campaigns, and “best practices” in an online world to a wide variety of people.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer that you hope to bring into your career? Throughout this co-op (and this entire year), I learned that it’s important to plan but it’s also important to go with the flow when your plan does not materialise. I have always been someone who likes to know exactly what will happen at a given event or meeting but completing my co-op during a global pandemic has changed my perspective. I am now an even more adaptable colleague who can rapidly shift my plan on the spot depending on changing situations within and outside the organization. I’m excited about bringing my skills of adaptability and problem-solving that I have developed through this experience into my career moving forward.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? My co-op role is directly related to implementing environmental sustainability at the local and community levels, which was very rewarding for me. It enriched my understanding of sustainability by providing me with the opportunities to connect with professionals in the field of sustainability through networking and attending conferences such as one hosted by the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). These experiences allowed me to gain a more well-rounded appreciation for sustainability and how I can affect change at the local, governmental, and organizational levels.

    Michaela Jennings

    Michaela Jennings

    Your title and the company you work for: Research Assistant, Environmental Sustainability Resource Centre- Niagara Adapts

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? I have been working with the partners to help them in creating their Climate Change Adaptation plans, which will be implemented in their community. My tasks include, providing feedback, research materials, drafts, templates, and assisting in creating materials for the workshops Niagara Adapts provides for their partners. In this position I have also been working with the partners and the Brock Team to create a stakeholder engagement piece. This will be able to provide the partners to engage with their community and staff in order help them in the planning process.

    How did your course work in the Master of Sustainability program contribute to the success you experienced in your co-op role? Many of my courses, including my MRP term over the summer, have been useful in providing me with an understanding of the different elements of sustainability and society, but also the methods and tools that are useful. My role has been greatly impacted by what I had learnt in 5P12 Climate Change Adaptation and Transformation. This course provided the groundwork and the hands-on experience that introduced us to creating a municipal plan. This course, paired with the others in the program, have allowed for me to expand on what I learnt and apply it in real-world settings.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer (Fall) that you hope to bring into your career? I have learned that sometimes things do not go according to plan, and you have to be adaptable and be able to think of solutions. This is beneficial for me in my future career because I will have developed stronger problem-solving skills, which allow for me to look at situations a bit differently, and will it be beneficial in any role.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? My co-op has allowed for me to be engaged in a variety of approaches to sustainability. From academic, political, and a consulting point of view. Each has increased my understanding of a different element of sustainability, and primarily the real-world possibilities that exist beyond the classroom.

     

    As you can see, since the students in our Master of Sustainability program have such a diverse educational background, there are a wide variety of co-op roles available for them in fields such as banking, education, and ecology. To learn more about the Master of Sustainability program at Brock, click here.

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, Niagara Adapts, SSAS Program, Sustainability at Brock

  • Engaging Community Stakeholders: Survey on Draft Vision and Goals

    Blog Contributor: Michaela Jennings

    Brock University and Niagara Adapts are inviting the public in the Niagara Region to participate in a survey regarding their respective municipalities. This survey will be used to help municipal partners in creating their Climate Change Adaptation Plans, in partnership with Niagara Adapts. Throughout the partnership, each participating municipality has been working through steps in creating their plan. The steps include reviewing best-practices in adaptation planning, in order to have a well-researched and context-specific plan. One of the important steps in creating an adaptation plan is through stakeholder engagement. Stakeholder engagement is an opportunity for the public, and staff in municipalities, to be part of the decision-making process. This will assist in creating a Climate Change Adaptation Plan with community feedback and participation.  

    In the fall of 2019, with the completion of a vulnerability assessment, each municipality was able to use the data collected from their residents to inform the creation of their vision and goals for their adaptation plan. The results were presented in the form of a Vulnerability Fact Sheet. The results from the survey this fall are intended to advise the decision-making process in the municipality. Additionally, it will help inform the creation of detailed action items. These actions items, aligning with the intention of creating more resilient communities in the Niagara Region, will help in deciding which actions should be taken, the timelines, costs, and focus of the action.  

    The survey focuses on the draft vision and goals that were created by each participating municipality. The survey begins with informed consent, requiring participants to be over the age of 18 to participate. The survey then lists the suggested vision and goals allowing participants to indicate on a scale from strongly disapprove to strongly support their level of support for each item. Each question is then paired with an opportunity for participants to provide feedback and comments on each of the goals and the vision.  

    The information collected from the survey will be used to inform and improve the vision and goals for the final adaptation plan for each municipality. This is a best-practice approach in municipal planning and will further improve the plan for the municipality by providing different perspectives and insights. The responses will also help in creating detailed action items for each of the goals.      

    The following are the participating municipalities: Town of Lincoln, City of Welland, City of St. Catharines, City of Niagara Falls, Town of Pelham. 

    To participate in the survey, click here. 

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts

  • EESI Partnership Roundtable Event

    Blog Contributor: Allison Clark

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Workshop 7: Monitoring and Evaluation

    Blog Contributor: Michaela Jennings

    On November 16th, 2020, Niagara Adapts held their 7th workshop in a 9-workshop series. The workshop was held for the 7 municipal partners of Niagara Adapts to add to the progress being made in the creation of their Climate Change Adaptation Plans.  

    Dr. Jessica Blythe began the workshop with an introduction to the facilitators of the event from Savanta Consulting. The consulting firm has experience working with local municipalities in Ontario to create their adaptation plans by utilizing the best practices. They provided a new perspective on the adaptation planning process, which allowed the partners, and the Brock Team to examine how monitoring and evaluation play a significant role in adaptation planning. 

    The workshop then progressed with a presentation on “Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL).” The presentation covered the what, why, and when of MEL, and the benefits of outlining a MEL process before implementing an adaptation plan. So far, Niagara Adapts has assisted in creating the municipal partners’ vision, goals, and completing a vulnerability assessment. Monitoring and evaluation are an important aspect as they outline how a plan will be implemented, monitored, and improved in the future. The presentation provided insight into the use of the “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound” (SMART) framework when approaching MEL. Allowing the partners to learn how to approach MEL in their adaptation plan with some guidance.  

    The workshop continued with an introduction to a case study example. The case study was of one municipality’s experience in their monitoring and evaluation approach. This aspect of the workshop provided concrete examples and suggestions for the partners. Additionally, the presentation went into how monitoring and evaluation are done in bigger cities within Canada, showing a different approach to effective MEL in adaptation planning.  

    An activity was then used to engage the participants in creating indicators using SMART. By creating indicators, it allows for progress to be monitored after the implementation of the adaptation plan. Measurable indicators that can show progress and success are an important aspect of MEL. This was beneficial for the participants to apply what had been discussed in the workshop to their own adaptation plan. 

    The workshop provided an opportunity for the municipal partners to learn and apply the lessons learnt in the material. The workshop concluded with a valuable discussion with the facilitators, providing an opportunity for questions to be answered about adaptation planning. Overall, the workshop was beneficial in outlining the importance of monitoring and evaluation, as well as some helpful insights into adaptation planning.  

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts

  • NPC Speaker Series Wrap Up

    Blog Contributors: Allison Clark & Savannah Stuart

    NPC Webinar Screenshot

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

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

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

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

  • 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