Articles by author: Samantha Morris

  • Emmanuel Akowuah awarded the 2018 Distinguished Graduate Student Award

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate Emmanuel Akowuah on being awarded the 2018 Faculty of Graduate Studies Distinguished Graduate Student Award. The Distinguished Graduate Student Award is presented to one student from each program, who has achieved the highest overall average.

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  • Professors visit high school students in Japan

    On June 19, 2018, Drs. Atsuko Hashimoto and David Telfer gave a lecture and workshop to Hokkai Gakuen Sapporo High School students in Japan on ‘Global Risks’. The students are in the Global Program and attend Brock University ESL for one month every year.

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  • Ebru Ustundag awarded the 2018 York University Geography Distinguished Alumnus Award

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate Dr. Ebru Ustundag on being awarded the 2018 York University Geography 2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

    According to the award letter:

    “The committee felt that, despite having many more years ahead to make significant scholarly contributions to the discipline of geography, that you [Ebru] exemplify the critical human geography championed by York University through your involvement in action research. In addition, you have made exceptional contributions to the discipline of geography in a very short time, and you have been previously recognized for your sustained and serious commitment to innovative pedagogy at the undergraduate and graduate levels, collegiality, multidisciplinary research and community activism.”

    We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

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  • Learning from Vancouver landscapes

    Story from The Brock News

    Vancouver field course
    Brock student Anthony Montagano visited Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge during a weeklong Geography and Tourism field course in the city.

    Many students spend the spring and summer months completing extra courses or taking a well-deserved trip. Anthony Montagano did both — at the same time.

    The 20-year-old Niagara Falls native recently returned from a weeklong Geography and Tourism field course (GEOG/TOUR 3Q93) in Vancouver, B.C. The experiential learning opportunity brought a class of Brock University students to the city to learn about the historical geography of the region, as well as its social and cultural processes.

    For Montagano, the diversity of Vancouver’s landscape could not have been fully grasped in a classroom.

    “It’s good to hear about certain destinations, but to see things first-hand is really helpful,” said the second-year Tourism Management student. “It’s easier to identify common trends, like gentrification and high-density housing, and you can use your own observations rather than just lecture notes to help form an opinion.”

    Vancouver field course

    Brock student Anthony Montagano stopped at Vancouver’s Olympic cauldron
    during a weeklong Geography and Tourism field course in the city.

    This lesson was made clear when the group, which included students from each of Brock’s Faculties, encountered the diversity that Vancouver offers in its many neighbourhoods.

    “We travelled around to the different areas of Vancouver and determined what would cause the price of home ownership to go up or down, while also evaluating what services were available in each area,” Montagano said. “It was cool to see the urban core, Olympic sports venues and small fishing docks all within the same city.”

    While exploring Canada’s third-largest city, Montagano and his classmates were encouraged to learn about the social history of the region as well.

    “I was unaware of the tragic historical exploitation of the Asian communities in Vancouver,” he said. “I now understand a little more in history that many people may still be ignorant to.”

    Though the group was only together in Vancouver for eight days, Montagano learned that it was easier to bond with his classmates while outside of the lecture hall.

    “When you are in a new setting, you tend to make bonds right away,” he said. “I met some great friends and everyone got along really well.”

    In addition to the new friendships and cultural discovery that came with the trip, Montagano was also appreciative of other aspects of participating in a spring experiential field course.

    “I gained some great experience for my resumé and you can save some time by having to take less courses during the year,” he said.

    Now home, Montagano has finished a 12-page paper about his experiences to complete the course’s final assignment. The reflective exercise has helped him to share why others should participate in similar classes going forward.

    “I would really encourage people to consider these experiential field courses,” he said. “I know the trips might cost a bit more than a normal course, but now is the opportunity to travel and gain valuable experience at the same time. These courses will set you apart at Brock and help prepare you for your career.”

    Story from The Brock News
    June 15, 2018

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  • Brock employees among grads receiving degrees

    Christine Alic, Administrative Assistant for Custodial and Grounds Services, was one of eights Brock employees who graduated this Spring. Alic graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Geography.

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to extend congratulations to Christine Alic for graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in Human Geography this Spring! Christine has worked very hard over the last 7 years to earn this degree. Read more about her story and the other Brock employee grads in the Brock News Story below.

    Story from The Brock News
    June 7, 2018

    It has been a big year for Christine Alic.

    In addition to celebrating her 50th birthday, the Administrative Assistant for Custodial and Grounds Services was one of several Brock employees who graduated this week.

    Seven years of balancing two courses per semester and working full time at Brock finally paid off for Alic when she graduated Tuesday with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Geography.

    “There were times I fantasized about quitting,” she said. “I worked longer hours at work so I could attend daytime classes and I was often up until two or three in the morning reading textbooks and writing papers. I was so tired and frustrated that my degree was taking so long, but I stuck with it.”

    As many Brock employees do, Alic took advantage of the University’s tuition waiver, choosing to study Human Geography because of her lifelong interest in how humans and the planet affect each other.

    “I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was younger, so I didn’t go to university,” she said. “When I read some of the course outlines for Human Geography, it sounded like a whole bunch of everything I was interested in — history, politics, sociology and culture.”

    As she crossed the Convocation stage, Alic felt a huge sense of accomplishment.

    “It was a good feeling,” she said. “For seven years, I put everything I had into my classes. I gave up a lot of free time for my degree. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m going to have to learn to spread out my activities — I don’t have to cram in everything I want to do all at once.”

    Along with Alic, several other Brock employees graduated this week.

    Marion Barbas, Admissions Officer with the Registrar’s Office, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Labour Studies. She was the recipient of the Distinguished Graduating Student Award — Labour Studies, which is awarded to the student with highest major average in the Department of Labour Studies.

    Barbas’ original plan of taking one general Humanities course quickly escalated after learning about Labour Studies.

    “I overheard a group of students talking about how great LABR 1F90 is and how everyone should be required to take it in first year,” she said. “I declared Labour Studies as my major before the course even came to completion.”

    Bryan Boles, Associate Vice-President, Ancillary Services, graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resources.

    Boles is thankful for the opportunity to continue his education in a university focused on experiential learning.

    “I’m a big believer in continuous learning and would encourage anyone with the opportunity to keep learning,” he said.

    Tyler Harrison, Club and Camp Co-ordinator for Brock Sports, graduated with a Master of Arts in Sport Management.

    As a student, Harrison was instrumental in engaging the Brock Sports fan base and the ‘We Are Ready’ campaign. When asked what he plans to do with his degree, Harrison said that he’s “looking forward to continuing to pursue my passion to work in intercollegiate sport here in Canada and abroad.”

    Daniel Lonergan, Senior Experiential Education Co-ordinator with Co-op, Career and Experiential Education, graduated with an MBA in Human Resources.

    Lonergan plans to use his experience from the MBA program to “continue strengthening the experience for current and future MBA students from an experiential learning point of view,” he said.

    Erin Plyley, Academic Advisor with the Faculty of Education and part-time instructor in the Teacher Education program, graduated with a Master of Education in Teaching, Learning and Development.

    Plyley is happy and proud to be a “Badger for life,” she said.

    “Starting as a Brock student and now having the opportunity to work with students on a daily basis is something I’m grateful for. I love what I do and the incredible students I have met.”

    Catharine Pelletier, Senior Platoon Supervisor with Campus Security Services, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She was the recipient of the Cara Chefurka Memorial Book Prize, which is awarded to the student with the highest graduating average in Psychology at Spring Convocation.

    Sarah Andrews, Communications Operator and Dispatcher with Campus Security Services, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

    Phil Alexander, Academic Advisor with the Student Success Centre, graduated with a Bachelor of Education in Adult Learning.

    Kristen Nilsen, Change Management Co-ordinator with Human Resources, graduated with a Bachelor of Education with a specialization in Administration and Leadership in Education.

    Henry Gerbrandt, Program Services Co-ordinator with the Student Success Centre, graduated with a Bachelor of Accounting with first-class standing.

    Gerbrandt says that he’s “thankful for all of the support I received as a student and staff member,” he said.

    Story from The Brock News
    June 7, 2018

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  • Daniel Amoak completes MRP for MA in Geography

    Congratulations to Daniel Amoak on his successful completion of his Master of Arts in Geography major research paper titled “Combating desertification in Semi-Arid Ghana: An analysis of rainfall trends and resilience in the Upper East Region”. Daniel’s MRP was supervised by Dr. Anthony Shaw, committee member Dr. Jeff Boggs. As Daniel often reminds us, he has been a “cohort by himself”. Daniel has played a significant role in bringing two different cohorts together with his witty and kind personality. We wish Daniel all the best for his future endeavours.

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  • Marina Nikolovski completes MRP for MA in Geography

    On May 8, 2018, Master of Arts in Geography student Marina Nikolovski successfully completed her major research paper titled “Examining governance, risks and human rights of water in Canada”. Marina’s MRP was supervised by Dr. Ebru Ustundag and committee member, Dr. Chris Fullerton. Congratulations Marina, we wish you all the best!

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  • Thanks to our 2017-18 internship employers


    Geography and Tourism Studies internship students on their final day of class with Dr. Chris Fullerton.

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to thank the following employers who hired our students as interns for the 2017-18 school year:

    Open exclusively to majors in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, the honours internship course (GEOG/TOUR 4F99) gives students credit for work experience in their last year of undergraduate studies.

    This year students secured a wide range of positions through a competitive application process. Examples of positions they held include: research assistant, program facilitator, field support technician, communications assistant, planning assistant, and more.

    The internship course is offered annually for fourth-year honours students studying geography or tourism at Brock University. If you are interested in hiring an internship student during the 2018-2019 school year, please contact Dr. Ebru Ustundag (eustundag@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x4417).

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  • Event offers students insider tips on tourism industry

    In addition to getting their LinkedIn photos taken and hearing from industry professionals, students had the opportunity to try both roundtable and open networking at the Tourism Networking Event held at Brock University on April 10.

    When Becky White (BA ’15, MS ’16) returned to her alma mater last week, she came prepared with industry insight and key tips to pass along to the next generation of tourism professionals.

    The sales and membership co-ordinator at Niagara Falls Tourism was a guest speaker at Brock’s inaugural Tourism Networking Event, held April 10 in Pond Inlet.

    Hosted by the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, in partnership with Co-op, Careers and Experiential Education, the event offered students the chance to mingle with and learn from industry professionals, several of whom were Brock alumni.

    Alumna Becky White shared her combined expertise from her time as a student and a campus career advisor as well as her current work in the tourism industry.

    For White, the day was an opportunity to open the eyes of students to the careers that exist within tourism.

    “I hope that people will see that tourism isn’t just tour guides and travel agents,” she said. “It is a vibrant and engaging industry.”

    The event’s guests and sponsors helped to affirm that sentiment as they spent time speaking with the roughly 30 students in attendance.

    Representatives from the City of St. Catharines, the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, Venture Niagara, Vineland Estates Winery, CERF Niagara, Cycle-Logical Rentals, Destination Ontario Travel Information Centres, the Skylon Tower, Scotiabank Convention Centre, Mortgage Intelligence, and Hostelling International’s Niagara Falls Hostel showed the breadth and scope of the field, in addition to offering a showcase of some of Niagara’s top tourism employers.

    Chris Fullerton, Chair of the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, was pleased to see the event come together so well, and to receive positive feedback from both tourism industry professionals and students.

    “Since this was our first time doing this, we really weren’t sure what to expect. But by all accounts, the evening was a great success,” he said.

    “Our students got to meet with numerous tourism employers to talk about career opportunities and to get some useful career planning advice, while the employers got to learn a lot more about our programs, our experiential learning opportunities and the broad range of knowledge and skills that our students obtain while studying here at Brock.”

    The April 10 event was the first of many that the department hopes to offer.

    “For our students, making connections in the industry, learning from alumni and gaining networking experience are important factors for their successful transition into life after university,” said Samantha Morris, the department’s Academic Advisor and Communications Co-ordinator, and one of the evening’s organizers. “We look forward to working with industry partners to continue to develop opportunities to help our students and alumni thrive.”

    White’s presentation, “My Life in Ten Minutes,” offered students an example of how their education and on-campus experiences can help them succeed.

    She first came to Brock as a mature student studying Tourism and Environment, but then stayed to complete a master’s degree in Sustainability. She also worked as a career assistant and credits the on-campus job with having an enormous impact on her career.

    White’s talk was part of a concerted effort on the part of organizers to help students and industry professionals connect the dots between the theory and practice of tourism, one of Niagara’s leading industries.

    “We wanted to create an interactive experience for students to engage in meaningful career conversations with industry professionals, and to provide a venue to assist students with their career decision-making,” says Kara Renaud, Supervisor of Career Education.

    “The setup of the event gave students a chance to ask their career questions, make connections and leverage the expertise of those who were once students themselves.”

    Story from The Brock News.

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  • Students and faculty travel to New Orleans for AAG 2018

    On April 10-14, our graduate students and professors travelled to New Orleans for the 2018 American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting. At this AAG Annual Meeting, Master of Arts in Geography student Jennica Giesbrecht was awarded the Glenda Laws Paper Award for her paper “Posthuman and Material-Discursive Examinations of the Geographies of the Dead Body”. Congratulations Jennica!

    Read more about the papers and sessions by Geography and Tourism Studies professors and students:

    Mobilities Research, Epistemic Justice, and Mobility Justice

    By: Drs. Nancy Cook and David Butz (Geography and Tourism Studies)

    Over the past decade numerous authors have called for the development of “mobile methods” (Büscher, Urry & Witchger, 2011) and the identification of suitable “methods for mobilities research” (Sheller & Urry, 2006), and a number of innovative approaches to studying mobilities have emerged. These often involve some form of embodied or kinaesthetic researcher involvement in the mobile practices and contexts of the social groups or in the spaces under investigation. More recently, mobilities and transport scholars have begun to trouble some of the claims and assumptions underpinning the turn to mobile methods on epistemological (e.g., Merriman, 2014) and ethical (e.g., Warren, 2017) grounds. Our presentation contributes to this methodological discussion by suggesting the notion of epistemic justice as a basis for assessing the adequacy of particular methods for conducting mobilities research. We argue that epistemic justice is a significant aspect of mobility justice itself, and should be an important consideration in the conduct of mobilities research. We develop our argument with reference to a self-directed photography project we conducted with members of a small community in the mountains of northern Pakistan in the wake of a locally-important road construction project.

    The skills-mismatch: the weak evidentiary basis of a fuzzy concept and the implications for public universities.

    By: Drs. Emmanuel Kyeremeh and Jeffrey Boggs (Geography and Tourism Studies)

    The English-language press promotes a thesis of an incompatibility between workers’ ‘skills’ and employers’ needs, a condition variously called skill(s) gap(s), horizontal (and vertical) mismatch, or over- (and under-) education. However, no single unambiguous definition exists which encompasses these terms in a unified framework. Furthermore, these concepts frequently conflate credentials, skill-level, skillset and habit. Given the implications of these claims for labour force policies in English-speaking countries, this ambiguity is problematic. Furthermore, scholarly literature finds claims of skills-mismatch to be inconsistent with existing data in Anglophone countries. With that said, what we collectively term a ‘skills-mismatch’ exemplifies Markusen’s (2003) ‘fuzzy concept.’ While our re-conceptualization of the skills-mismatch as a concept consisting of three analytically-distinct components (credential-mismatch, skill-level-mismatch, and skillset-mismatch, all as distinct from habits) provides a starting-point for investigating the existence and extent of a skills-mismatch in a given context, a larger popular discourse already frames the contemporary discussion about an alleged skills-mismatch. Regardless of its problematic empirical foundations, this larger popular discourse frames universities as the cause of a ‘skills-mismatch.’ Irritatingly, this discourse downplays or ignores the role of employers in training workers, especially given declines in-house training budgets. In term of public wealth, advocates of the skills-mismatch thesis call for the restructuring of public universities to provide “workforce-ready” workers at the expense of turning out well-rounded students, and ignore the repercussions of this putative solution which further externalizes firms’ training costs onto society at large.

    Not Quite A Free Space: The Role of Geography in Critiquing Liberatory Discourse on LGBT Life Online

    By: Dean Mizzi, MA in Geography candidate, Brock University

    LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) enclaves, also known as “gay villages” or “gayborhoods”, have been a subject of study by geographers for decades. Advancements in information and communications technology since the 1990s, particularly access to the Internet and later to mobile telecommunications, have changed the nature of LGBT communities. More interaction is taking place via online services, such as social networks or online discussion boards, in contrast to the traditional physical spaces associated with gay villages. Most current scholarship describes these new interactions in the context of their benefits such as increased accessibility of information, community-building for activism, or as a means of social support. In this study I present a review and analysis of literature both within and outside geography which contests the current liberatory discourse surrounding LGBT life online including reproduction of exclusions from physical spaces in online environments, the creation of “virtual closets” in the constant sharing environment of social media, and increases in mass surveillance and content restrictions. In addition, I examine several current conceptual frameworks used in virtual geographies: hybrid spaces, augmented reality, and mediated spatiality. The remainder of the paper is devoted to examining which conceptual framework(s) is/are most effective for geographers in articulating the critiques to the liberatory discourse of LGBT life online.

    Mobile ‘Homes’: An Ethnographic Study with American Vandwellers

    By: Stephanie Murray, MA in Geography candidate, Brock University

    At present, numerous studies exist which focus on the practices and mobility of “snowbirds” and other RV nomads travelling within North America. And yet, moving alongside these nomads is another group of highly mobile vehicle-dwellers who seem to have gone unnoticed by scholars. United under the “vanlife” hashtag, these individuals refer to themselves as “vanlifers,” “vandwellers,” and “van nomads.” In order to learn about the meanings that these vandwellers assign to their mobility, and the ways in which that mobility might change the way that geographers conceptualize the scale of the home, I moved into my van and attended a number of van gatherings in Colorado and Washington State between July 1st and August 20th, 2017. This paper presents the findings from 9 weeks of participatory ethnographic research, during which 10 face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with 7 couples and 3 single “vanlifers.” By employing a “mobile metaphysics” in my analysis of the resulting participatory and interview data, I hope to contribute to recent efforts to expand geography’s focus beyond an ontology of fixity and place, and draw attention to the practices and meanings embedded in the movements of American vandwellers.

    Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Engagement: Teach-Ins – Panel Discussion

    Chair: Hilda Kurtz
    Discussants: Jenna Loyd (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Punam Khosla (York University), Ebru Ustundag (Geography and Tourism Studies, Brock University), Hilda Kurtz University of Georgia)

    This session is one of several organized for the purpose of providing grounded but critical discussion of public engagement and outreach opportunities, strategies, and challenges. Sessions build upon the experiences of panelists/facilitators and the sharing of perspectives from the audience to create a space where geographers can train each other, trade innovations and ideas, and negotiate practical and even political obstacles to public engagement in geography.
    This panel approaches public engagement in terms of process pragmatism and public pedagogy, and frame our session around both the nitty gritty of teach-ins as a mode of public engagement and thoughts on why this work is important in 21st century higher education. Jenna Loyd (University of Wisconsin) will share her experiences with co-organizing a series of community workshops on policing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, called Transforming Justice. She will focus on creating shared knowledge and working with social movement organizers. Punam Khosla (York University) will speak to her experience doing workshops with women in low-income neighbourhoods in Toronto as well as a number of other public engagement/ outreach/ education workshops over the years in labour unions, anti criminalization gender based violence campaigns, and community radio. Ebru Ustundag (Brock University) will problematize what we understand as ‘public/community engagement’, inviting expanded institutional consideration of what community building and partnership might look like. Hilda Kurtz (University of Georgia) will consider public engagement in relation to public intellectualism as assemblage, and reflect on her work co-organizing a teach-in series on civic engagement called Solidarity Sundays.

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