Media releases

  • Brock professor pens book on the urban-rural divide in Ontario

    MEDIA RELEASE: R00106, 17 May 2016

    There was a time when the separation between city and rural was a distinct line. Rural residents typically stayed away from the big cities, and city dwellers rarely ventured into farm country.

    But those lines, says Brock University political science Assistant Professor Zachary Spicer, have long since blurred.

    “City-county separation is this old institutional framework for organizing governments,” he says. “Institutions needed to evolve over time and there are some that really haven’t.”

    In his recently released book, The Boundary Bargain: Growth, Development, and the Future of City-County Separation, Spicer says there are numerous geographic areas around Ontario still clinging on to the old style of keeping cities and rural areas separate.

    The book’s title refers to an unspoken agreement planners used to follow that “let the cities grow, but let the rural areas be left alone,” Spicer says. “Rural areas wanted to remain rural. Cities were rough. The separation was seen as being beneficial.”

    But places like London, Guelph and Barrie are still operating in a bubble without consideration of the smaller places around them, he says.

    “There are municipalities out there on their own with no connection to the growing areas around them.”

    The Brock prof looks back at what led to the city-county separation style of governance, and to the eventual shift to more regional or multi-level forms of government.

    Although Spicer says there are more than a dozen examples of that separation between cities and counties remaining in Ontario, he uses London, Guelph and Barrie as case studies for how the policy works, the problems it creates and best practices for addressing growth, development and sprawl.

    Spicer says he wrote the book as an expansion of his thesis on the subject several years ago. 

    “To me it was a strange and peculiar situation that I wanted to look more into. It’s so unique,” says Spicer, who teaches classes on local government, city administration and public sector management at Brock.

    The Boundary Bargain published by McGill-Queen’s University Press is aimed at a wide audience from municipal politicians, planners and administrators to residents living in city-county separated areas.

    “It has a cross-disciplinary appeal to it,” Spicer says.

    Zachary Spicer, assistant professor of political science at Brock University, is available to speak with the media about his new book. Cover art and sample copies are also available.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970
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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock prof recognized internationally for innovative teaching

    MEDIA RELEASE: R000107, 18 May 2016

    Brock University Professor David Hutchison is one of just five Canadian university professors in 2016 to receive one of the country’s most significant awards for innovative teaching.

    Hutchison’s inventive approach to teaching through project-based learning earned him a Brightspace Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, the same organization that awards the prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship.

    He is the first Brock professor to receive the Brightspace award.

    Hutchison, Director of Brock University’s Centre for Digital Humanities and Professor in the Department of Teacher Education, said he’s honoured by the recognition and credits the cross-faculty support he has had at Brock when it comes to innovative teaching.

    “Brock is really supportive of experimentation and has supports for innovative teaching and also collaboration,” he said.

    “What’s unique about what I’m doing is that I’m a certified project manager. I apply project management skills to my work related to project-based learning.”

    Hutchison said project-based learning is a collaborative approach that focuses on transferable learning skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking.

    “Project-based learning empowers learners to collaborate in teams — mentored by their teachers — as they research real-world questions, pose solutions to real-world problems and design real-world products,” he explained.

    Hutchison, who is currently a Chancellor’s Chair for Teaching Excellence grant holder, is spearheading the new Brock University Design Studio (BUDS). BUDS brings teams of students together from different Brock programs to work on projects such as the IBM-sponsored Arduino rover project.

    Hutchison is director of Brock’s Interactive Arts and Science program, which offers a number of project-based courses and this fall is launching a new second-year class called Foundations of Project Management.

    Hutchison is one of five post-secondary educators being recognized with the Brightspace award.

    “These five educators demonstrate the impact and importance of creativity on learning. Each of these award winners has had a measurable and lasting impact on learners through unique and innovative approaches to teaching and learning,“ said STLHE president Robert Lapp. “STLHE is proud to partner with Brightspace to encourage and support student-centered values and approaches to learning.”

    The winners will be recognized at the 2016 STLHE Annual Conference, June 21-24 in London, Ont. and at FUSION, Brightspace’s Global Conference, July 22-26 in Orlando, Fla.

    Prof. David Hutchison is available for media interviews by contacting

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
    * Erica Bajer, Writer/Editor, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4420

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    Categories: Media releases