News

  • Students to explore space, climate change in new science communication program

    A new Brock University program will see students combine their interest in topics such as space exploration, earthquakes, floods and climate change with a passion for storytelling and global communication.

    Welcoming its first cohort in fall 2023, Brock’s Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Earth and Planetary Science Communication is a cross-disciplinary program forged through a partnership with the Departments of Earth Sciences; Geography and Tourism Studies; and Communication, Popular Culture and Film.

    “Students are welcome from diverse backgrounds, voices and academic pursuits, making it ideal for those with interests in science, arts or both,” said Frank Fueten, Chair of Earth Sciences. “It will appeal to those who value Greta Thunberg’s activism just as much as those who enjoy the science broadcasting of David Suzuki.”

    The program’s graduates will understand the science behind important modern issues, such as Earth’s resource distribution and the exploration of other planets.

    “Students will have the skills to participate effectively and successfully in discussions and debates surrounding science in a variety of fields and industries,” Fueten said.

    The program is the only one in Canada that combines knowledge of Earth Sciences with communication skills in a single four-year undergraduate degree.

    “On the communication side, students will learn cutting-edge theory and practical skills to help understand the needs and concerns of the public, gather science data and employ social media effectively,” said Duncan Koerber, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film.

    The program presents innovative courses such as Citizen Science, where students crowdsource the public to create new knowledge and data sets.

    “Citizen Science will empower citizens and communities to tackle environmental and social injustices and has the potential to inform innovation as well as policy changes in Niagara and beyond,” said Ebru Ustundag, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies. “Data empowerment of citizens via participatory practices will honour and preserve local traditions and knowledge and provide mitigation strategies for future residents and policy-makers.”

    Upper-year projects may adopt novel approaches to communicating science to the masses. While one student may promote volcanology through TikTok, another may craft a miniseries on microplastics.

    “The variety and customizability of project options will appeal to students who enjoy blazing a new trail,” Fueten said.

    The program will enable graduates to pursue careers in communication roles for government agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities and private companies, as well as in journalism.

    “We see our graduates landing roles in well-known organizations like the Discovery Network and the World Wildlife Fund,” said Kevin Turner, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Tourism. “There is also great opportunity to join firms in the resource industry and other companies in environmental fields or geologically sensitive areas.”

    More information is available on the program website or by contacting earth@brocku.ca

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  • Brock geographer makes global connections during Fulbright Canada residency

    Almost two years after his Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Arctic Studies at the University of Washington was first announced, Kevin Turner is winding down his duties.

    The award normally involves a six-month residency, but the global pandemic prevented the Associate Professor in Brock University’s Departments of Geography and Tourism Studies and Earth Sciences from travelling to Seattle as expected.

    Instead, he virtually taught a fourth-year course in Arctic Landscape Change and Detection, conducted workshops for teachers and engaged in events hosted by the World Affairs Council, including a fireside chat with Chief Tizya-Tramm of the Vuntut Gwitchin Government through winter 2021.

    Earlier this spring, he was finally able to load his truck with his bikes and some field equipment and head west for his required in-person residency at the University of Washington.

    In spite of a hectic three-month schedule, Turner says the trip has created opportunities to meet up and collaborate with colleagues, sometimes in unexpected ways.

    In May, he travelled to Fairbanks, Alaska, for a meeting of NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) Science Team. As a research affiliate of that program, he advises on airborne data acquisition and suggests key flyover locations from his main research site in Old Crow.

    “Being an affiliate of NASA ABoVE, I can help guide where they fly in northern Yukon and then utilize the data they collect within my research program, as can many others,” says Turner. “We also learn the latest on some of the cool things that colleagues are doing with the data to assess landscape conditions across the north, as well as share our own findings.”

    He attended a meeting of the International Circumpolar Remote Sensing Symposium in Fairbanks, which attracted top scholars from around the world, and was also involved in fieldwork being done by colleagues from University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.

    “I was able to use some equipment I brought with me because I didn’t want it sitting in the truck at the airport while I travelled,” Turner says. “When I took it out for a little bit of show and tell, they invited me to visit one of their research sites to try it out.”

    Upon his return to Seattle, the University of Washington hosted Turner, Tram Nguyen, the 2021-22 Fulbright Canada Chair in Arctic Studies, and others for a roundtable discussion in late May on “Holistic Approaches to Health and Wellbeing in Arctic Communities and Beyond.”

    In June, Turner flew north again for fieldwork in Old Crow, Yukon. The strict parameters of his VISA required him to travel on specific dates — which can be hard to commit to when research excursions are delayed by Arctic weather.

    Turner counted on Brock Earth Sciences graduate student Michelle Pearce (BSc ’20) and undergraduate student Marley Tessier to help him meet the logistical challenges of the research trip and collaborated with colleagues from Polar Knowledge Canada and Parks Canada, along with local Indigenous community members, including photographer and drone pilot, Caleb Charlie, to collect data. Turner also credits helicopter pilot Ruth Hardy with being able to work wonders in small time frames.

    In addition to gathering water samples and aerial survey photography, Turner also used a LiDAR sensor — “a Ghostbuster-looking sensor that shoots out 300,000 pulses of light per second” — to collect data for fine-grained 3D imaging of the landscape.

    His use of the LiDAR device was of particular interest to a documentary film crew from France and Germany working on a four-part series on climate change, who accompanied the researchers and interviewed Turner in the midst of the data collection.

    Turner has now returned to Seattle for the rest of July to crunch some data and collaborate with colleagues at the University of Washington.

    Though it hasn’t been without its challenges, he says that he has enjoyed the “shake-up” of the Seattle residency and the Fulbright Chair overall. And he looks forward to soon welcoming his family for a quick holiday in a nearby mountain cabin.

    “If I didn’t have the support of my family, this would be impossible,” he says. “My wife, Jen, is amazing, and my two boys have really stepped up to fill in the gaps of getting things done around the house in my absence. Their ability to carry on with me somewhere else for an extended period has made this smooth, but I really miss them.”

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  • Indigenous Research Grant projects to explore critical issues

    Affordable housing, impacts of climate change, decolonizing experiential education and boosting health-care delivery will be the focus of projects supported by this year’s Brock University Indigenous Research Grants.

    The Office of the Vice-President, Research and the Office of the Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement have announced the 2022 recipients of the grants, which support research or creative activities in any discipline and on any topic that relates to Indigenous Peoples.

    “What is exciting about these research projects is, not only do they engage with Indigenous Peoples in a meaningful way, but they’re also directed at improving the lives of Indigenous people,” says Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement Robyn Bourgeois.

    The recipients are:

    • Maureen Connolly, Professor of Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Decolonizing experiential learning on the Brock University campus: A case study”
    • Liam Midzain-Gobin, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, “Indigenous Affordable Housing in Niagara”
    • Constance Schumacher, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Defining a Good Life: Community Partnerships and interRAI Data”
    • Kevin Turner, Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, “The sky is the limit for community monitoring of climate change impacts in Old Crow, Yukon”

    The areas of study are dealing with critical issues, says Bourgeois. Accessing affordable housing, documenting the impacts of climate change, decolonizing experiential education and boosting the delivery of health care are areas of concern expressed by various communities, she says.

    “What an honour to be able to support these research projects,” says Bourgeois.

    By facilitating Indigenous-centred research, the Indigenous Research Grants program is a tangible way Brock University is advancing principles articulated in the Brock Institutional Strategic Plan, says Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

    “These projects will contribute knowledge, understanding and partnerships that advance scholarship and have meaningful impact, in keeping with values of reconciliation and decolonization,” he says.

    Launched last year, the Indigenous Research Grants program aims to achieve several goals:

    • Supporting Indigenous researchers and Indigenous-focused research at Brock University.
    • Enabling researchers to hire students at any level to participate in their project (with preference toward students who self-identify as First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and/or another Indigenous group.
    • Supporting and advancing interest and expertise in Indigenous research areas.

    The grant of up to $7,500 aims to help researchers develop their research programs and creative activities so they can apply to external granting agencies such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for funding, among others.

    Research and creative activities led by, or in partnership with, First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples are given priority, although research proposals involving Indigenous Peoples located around the world are also welcome.

    Four faculty also received Indigenous Research Grants last year, with the projects in various stages of research:

    Applications are accepted on a continuous basis. Brock faculty wishing to apply should visit the Indigenous Research Grant page of the Research Services site (login required). For more information, contact Karen Espiritu, Acting Manager, Sponsored Research and Internal Programs.

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  • Reflecting on the 2022 Vancouver Field Course

    2022 Vancouver field course (GEOG/TOUR 3F93) student group with Dr. Mike Ripmeester and TA Hannah Willms (both right). Photo by Jean Kwan.

    Twenty-five students recently completed the Vancouver Field Course (GEOG/TOUR 3F93) led by Professor Mike Ripmeester and Teaching Assistant Hannah Willms. Students included representatives from numerous departments across Brock. During their ten days in Vancouver, students participated in seminars, walking seminars, self-guided explorations, and museum tours. While these activities focused on theories and concepts related to Geography and Tourism Studies, students were also challenged to reflect on their experiences during seminars and in their daily field book entries. Included among the challenges were to reflect on: how well the example of Vancouver fit with their existing knowledge of urban processes; how their experiences challenged their existing knowledge or beliefs; and, how they might attempt to define solutions to problems they encountered. During their free days, students explored the city and environs. Some went snorkeling with seals or went whale watching, others went for hikes or explored the city by bicycle, while others enjoyed the city’s shops and beaches.

    The students had an excellent time in Vancouver with Dr. Ripmeester and Hannah. Here are some of their reflections:

    “This course was an absolute incredible experience. As someone who hasn’t travelled this far from home alone for this long, I learned a lot about myself, the world around me, and met some amazing friends that will last a lifetime. I got out of my comfort zone and learned what incredible things can happen when you get out of your comfort zone.”

    “Having the field study course in Vancouver was amazing! it was such a great opportunity to have experiential learning and to firsthand explore a city both urban and rural areas. It was great to experience the way of life there, the museums, the culture, the food and of course the amazing fresh air & scenery. Thank you for this once in a lifetime experience as I got to learn, travel and enjoy!”

    “While I have had some amazing classroom-based courses with some wonderful teaching staff, being in Vancouver allowed both the participating students and staff to thrive in ways I could have never imagined. Putting bright minded individuals into the field and giving them tangible sources is the ultimate recipe for thorough and confident learners, and I sincerely hope that Brock continues to invest in opportunities such as this. I left Vancouver with lifelong friends and a long-lasting knowledge base of such a beautiful city that will inspire my personal travels and other learning opportunities for years to come.
    Also, I know that Dr. Ripmeester is extremely humble, however, he was undoubtedly the crown jewel of my experience. Having a personal connection to the location gave such a genuine feel to our learning, and truly enhanced my experience with the city.”

    The Brock student community is encouraged to look for future field courses offered by the Department in Spring/Summer 2023. Keep an eye out on our website and social media accounts for more details.

    Photo by Mike Ripmeester.

    Photo by Mike Ripmeester.

    Group of students standing outside on the Vancouver Field Course

    Photo by Mike Ripmeester.

    Students at Mary’s on Davie. Photo by Victoria Dougherty.

    Students at Future Senakw Development Site. Photo by Victoria Dougherty.

    Students at Creekside Park. Photo by Victoria Dougherty.

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  • Brock researchers awarded more than $1.1 million in SSHRC funding

    With so many charities competing for a limited number of dollars, it’s hard to know who to support. Donors want to make sure groups they fund are using the money responsibly.

    Professor of Accounting Hemantha Herath is among those challenging the conventional way charities calculate and report their program expenses.

    With funding from the federal government’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Herath is researching how data science techniques can be integrated into current reporting methods to give a fuller picture of charities’ performances.

    Herath is among eight Brock University researchers awarded SSHRC’s Insight Grant, announced Thursday, June 16 by François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

    Brock University received more than $1.1 million in the latest round of Insight Grants, which support research excellence and are judged worthy of funding by fellow researchers and/or other experts. The research can be conducted individually or by teams.

    “SSHRC’s investment in our research enables our scholars to contribute valuable insights into our collective understanding of a wide range of challenges faced in society,” says Brock’s Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

    In Herath’s case, he will use his funding to research how to recalculate the program expense ratio, which measures costs incurred by programs, services and other activities fulfilling a non-profit’s mission compared to its total costs.

    Herath is exploring how to integrate statistical techniques, including cluster analysis, which groups data that share similar properties, and text mining, which involves the process of examining large collections of documents to discover new information, into the accounting process.

    “This data-driven approach will generate more reliable information that will help donors, resource providers and the public evaluate the effectiveness of non-profit organizations so that they can make better funding decisions,” he says.

    Brock researchers awarded Insight Grants in 2022 are:

    • Julia Baird, Associate Professor, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre and the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, “Individual interventions to transform water governance”
    • Angela Book, Associate Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, “The Social Predator Hypothesis of Psychopathy”
    • Timothy Fletcher, Associate Professor, Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Champions for Meaningful Physical Education”
    • Hemantha Herath, Professor, Accounting, Goodman School of Business, “How to Choose a Charity: A Data Science Based Investigation”
    • Shannon Kerwin, Associate Professor, Sport Management, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Signaling Change: Exploring Gender EDI and Human Resource Management Practices, Board Gender Composition, and Board Outcomes in Non-profit Sport Governing Bodies”
    • Sean Locke, Assistant Professor, Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Understanding how reframing inaccurate barrier perceptions promotes physical activity participation”
    • Bradley Millington, Associate Professor, Sport Management, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Sport and the digital economy: A case study of the Canadian sports analytics industry”
    • Elizabeth Sauer, Professor, English Language and Literature, Faculty of Humanities, “Reorienting English National Consciousness: Renaissance to Late Restoration”

    Also announced June 16 are Stage 1 of SSHRC’s Partnership Grants, which provide support for new and existing formal partnerships over four to seven years to advance research, research training and/or knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities.

    Brock University’s two awards, totalling $39,882, are:

    • Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Professor, Dramatic Arts, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, “Staging Better Futures/Mettre en scène de meilleurs avenirs”
    • Teena Willoughby, Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, “The impact of technology use on adolescent risk behaviours and wellbeing over time: A collaborative approach focusing on partnerships and comparisons across different research approaches”

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  • Virtual tourism study seeking Brock students for short survey

    Master’s student Abigail Mensah has questions about the future of sustainable tourism — and she is hoping to get answers from fellow Brock University students.

    With supervisor and principle investigator Professor David Fennell in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, Mensah has developed a survey that can be completed in about 15 minutes online to explore the use of technology to facilitate remote tourism.

    The project, “Rethinking Consumerism, Innovation and Tourism Sustainability in a Post-Viral World: A Case of Virtual Tour Innovation Usage in Niagara’s Geoparks,” supports Mensah’s thesis research in the Master of Arts in Geography program.

    Mensah, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, says her research connects “the influence of the COVID-19 crisis on people’s future travel preferences and the role of virtual tour innovations, such as Personalized Interactive Real-time Tours (PIRTs), in meeting tourism needs while promoting sustainability.”

    Once completed, results of the study will be shared with the Brock community as well as the board of the Niagara Peninsula Aspiring Geopark.

    Mensah says that PIRTs are an “ethical and responsible alternative” to high-emission travel because they allow tourists to stay home and connect with local tour guides in a live, interactive, virtual experiences facilitated by technology.

    She adds that safe and accessible tourism opportunities for those with restrictions on mobility, transportation or costs for travel and revenue to support local employment, conservation and environmental protection are additional benefits to the model.

    All Brock students are invited to complete the survey.

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  • Brock students studying climate change plant tree on campus

    Brock University students capped off a course on the climate crisis with a commitment to positive change on Earth Day, Friday, April 22.

    A small group joined their instructor, Adjunct Professor Jayson Childs, and Professor and Chair Michael Pisaric to plant a tree outside the offices of the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies.

    Childs says the idea to raise money to plant a tree arose from an awareness of how much time students and scholars spend using computers.

    Four men holding shovels with dirt stand around a tree being planted on a sunny day

    The students of GEOG 2P08, Climate Crisis, along with instructor Jayson Childs and Professor Michael Pisaric, pooled their resources to donate a new Ginkgo biloba to Brock’s campus for future generations, which was planted to celebrate Earth Day on Friday, April 22. From left: John Dick, Manager of Ground Services, Childs, Pisaric and Dimitre Iankoulov of the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies.

    “I thought perhaps we could do an optional, voluntary fundraising drive to purchase a tree to plant on campus to try to mitigate some of the emissions associated with all of us sitting on our computers, while also bringing a variety of other benefits to campus,” he says.

    At Pisaric’s suggestion, they selected a Ginkgo biloba tree, which is known for dropping all its leaves at once when the first frost strikes. The species has been planted on other university campuses to help researchers track the date of the first frost from year to year, creating a specific, local data set.

    John Dick, Manager of Ground Services, says his team tries to keep plantings as diverse as possible, but as there are only a few other Ginkgo biloba trees on campus, they were more than happy to accommodate this request.

    “This was an initiative of the class, which is awesome,” Dick says. “We certainly appreciate when someone wants to add to the campus landscape.”

    Childs says planting trees is one of the “simple activities anybody can do to help sequester carbon and mitigate climate change” but outlines several other benefits, too:

    • Trees planted in yards act as a buffer for warm temperatures by providing shade and cooling neighbourhoods up to 5o
    • Trees absorb precipitation, which then helps reduce overland runoff and soil erosion.
    • Urban forests play an integral role in improving air quality and the psychological and social well-being in a community.
    • Planting trees can improve local biodiversity by providing habitat.

    Second-year Concurrent Education student Juanita Ayerbe Lozano says an early course assignment that required her to assess how many trees would be needed to offset her own carbon footprint got her thinking about the emissions of a class with almost 500 students. Reflecting on that impact, she jumped at the chance to get involved in the tree planting initiative.

    “Starting local, that was the biggest take away for me,” says the Niagara-on-the-Lake resident. “It’s not really in my control to fix everything and completely stop climate change, but if I just start small, start local, it can go a long way.”

    Pisaric looks forward to seeing the tree donated by this year’s Climate Crisis students thriving for decades to come.

    “This initiative led by Dr. Childs provides the students in our Climate Crisis course with a practical experience directly related to the content they learned,” says Pisaric. “Using the concept of carbon offsets, he taught the students that everyday activities such as enrolling and participating in their course work can have ecological impacts, but at the same time, showed them that there are mechanisms to lessen those impacts.”

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  • Future educators share ideas for nature learning with community

    A class of Brock students recently took in the fresh air at Ball’s Falls Conservation Area — all while sharing ideas that will help local children to do the same.

    Students in CHYS 2P16: Principles of Community Engagement in Education spent the last day of Winter Term classes sharing their research and enjoying the natural wonders at the Niagara conservation site.

    The event marked the completion of a term project that saw students in the Department of Child and Youth Studies second-year course research two key areas in support of the education-related programs offered by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA).

    Working in groups, students examined how the NPCA’s nature school, day camps and field trips could provide children and youth with improved and more equitable access to green spaces and new ways to promote the development of environmental stewardship among children and youth.

    Water falls over curved rock at Ball’s Falls

    Brock students recently spent the day at Ball’s Falls Conservation Area, where they shared their ideas for nature learning with the community.

    Students then compiled posters outlining their research findings and suggesting possible innovations. On April 8, the class gathered at Ball’s Falls to display their posters, observe the findings of their colleagues and soak in the natural surroundings.

    Assistant Professor Heather Ramey says the poster presentation allowed for the students’ work to be shared not only among their peers but also with NPCA educators and stakeholders as well as other members of the public who took in the display over the following weekend.

    “Looking at both accessibility and how we build environmental stewardship made for really good research, and then students connected the research to education and to the community,” says Ramey. “These two research questions were a beautiful melding of what’s needed in the community and what’s needed from an educational perspective.”

    Alicia Powell, Manager of Conservation Area Services at the NPCA, says she was excited to work with Ramey and her students on the project, which aligns with many of the priorities laid out in the NPCA’s strategic plan released earlier this year.

    “One of the things the NPCA recognizes in our outdoor education program is the importance of alternative education opportunities to get students, children, youth and adults outside and active,” says Powell. “The class looked at equity and improving access to green spaces to environmental and outdoor education and at the benefits not only in terms of health and well-being, cognition and learning for children but also the benefits to our environment and to stewardship now and in the future.”

    Allison Serrao, a second-year French major in the Concurrent Education program, says learning about opportunities for children to engage in natural environments opened her eyes to the importance of outdoor activity.

    “From working on the project, my biggest takeaway was learning how much of an impact nature has on adolescents’ development and growth,” she says. “Being surrounded by nature has many benefits.”

    The students flagged a range of issues and opportunities, from developing take-home and classroom kits to improved transportation options for accessing conservation areas.

    “The work generated some phenomenal concrete and tangible suggestions for ways that organizations like the NPCA and some of our other partners can work together to improve the opportunity for folks to connect to nature,” says Powell. “Some suggestions from the posters around working with the municipalities to improve transportation to green spaces are right in line with a recently published provincial report. Access for those in concentrated settlements is limited in Niagara compared to other municipalities — so doing this research and looking at what we offer across Niagara is really important.”

    Ramey says the posters were all captured in a digital format so that both students and the NPCA can keep them for future reference.

    Both Ramey and Serrao commented on how pleasant their on-site experience at Ball’s Falls was, although Serrao did get startled by one of its slithering inhabitants.

    “It was amazing to see the different posters that were there, and the weather was beautiful so I enjoyed the hike — it was not too long to the falls and the water was beautiful as well,” says Serrao. “The only downside was I saw a snake, which scared me, but I did end up having a laugh afterwards. Overall, I loved the experience.”

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  • Brock programs being developed in cannabis sciences and applied ecology

    NOTE: This is one in a series of stories highlighting projects supported by Brock’s Academic Initiatives Fund (AIF), which was established by the University in spring 2021. AIF projects will address key priorities outlined in Brock’s Institutional Strategic Plan and position the University to face the challenges of recovery from the pandemic. To read other stories in the AIF series, click here.

    Brock University’s Faculty of Mathematics and Science is in early stages of developing two new programs to meet the rising demand for careers in cannabis sciences and applied ecology.

    The development of each program has been supported in part by the Academic Initiatives Fund, which was introduced this past spring to address key priorities in Brock’s strategic plan and help position the University to face the challenges of recovery from the pandemic.

    Bachelor of Science in Cannabis Sciences

    With the introduction of the Cannabis Act in October 2018, Canada became the first developed nation to legalize the production, sale and use of cannabis for recreational purposes. Canada has since emerged as the global leader in the production and distribution of cannabis and related technologies.

    The rapid rise and expansion of the global cannabis industry has created significant demand for qualified cannabis scientists and scientific leaders to drive industry innovation forward.

    Residing in the Department of Biological Sciences, the Bachelor of Science in Cannabis Sciences will be the first formal cannabis-based degree program offered by an accredited university in Canada.

    “The program will provide prospective students with a comprehensive education in cannabis, cannabinoid, and endocannabinoid biology and biochemistry,” said Research Associate Jonathan Simone, an Adjunct Professor in Biological Sciences and cannabis researcher who was hired with AIF support to help with the program’s development. “Students will develop technical skills that are directly applicable to current industry needs.”

    Students of the new Bachelor of Science in Cannabis Sciences program, which aims to educate from ‘seed to sale,’ will be engaged in areas such as plant ecology and evolution, plant biology and biochemistry, soil sciences, commercial agricultural practices, chemical extraction and purification, analytical chemistry, neurobiology, pharmacology, and health sciences.

    Applied Ecology program

    A first-of-its-kind program is proposed in Applied Ecology at Brock University, building on resources, including many courses, offered in collaboration between the departments of Biological Sciences and Geography and Tourism Studies.

    Tensions between urban, agricultural and natural habitats are best understood by integrating the perspectives of geographers and biologists.

    Therefore, an interdisciplinary and a cross-department curriculum structure will leverage existing courses in both departments and eventually include a co-operative education stream.

    “There will be a lot of experiential learning built into this new honours program, such as work placements, field-based labs and project-based courses,” said Katharine Yagi, a Research Associate hired using AIF funds to develop the program.

    The Applied Ecology program will produce students with sound ecology training and field experience who can enter the workforce immediately upon graduation.

    Graduates will work for provincial, local and regional government agencies, conservation authorities, environmental consulting firms, ecological monitoring non-governmental organizations, bioremediation companies and other related areas.

    Coursework will highlight ecosystems in Niagara, including agroecosystems, which are abundant throughout the region, through species identification, survey methods and GIS mapping. An emphasis on traditional Indigenous knowledge and practices rounds out the program’s unique focus.

    Amongst all science disciplines, ecology may be the most amenable to integrating this approach. A new course will focus on the Indigenous Worldview of Ecology. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) concepts will also be built into three other new ecology-based courses as the program’s development continues.

    TEK is the evolving knowledge acquired by Indigenous and local peoples over thousands of years about the environment and relationships between humans and nature.

    Applied Ecology will dovetail with the University’s physical presence in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve — the Niagara Escarpment — and with existing strengths in environmental sustainability, geography and biology.

    The applied nature of the program emphasizes methodologies for fieldwork and technical skills associated with data collection and report writing.

    “One thing many graduates have realized is the very steep learning curve they experience when hired as a biologist or ecologist in the industry. In my experience, this applies to everyone, including people working in government and non-government agencies,” said Yagi. “There is a definitive need for knowledgeable and skillful ecologists in the Niagara region.”

    Faculty of Mathematics and Science Dean Ejaz Ahmed believes the new programs fill important roles at Brock.

    “Supporting new programs so students can build careers in a wide range of industries is valuable to Brock and to our local and global community,” he said.

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • Info session Thursday for Vancouver Field Course

    An upcoming field course in Vancouver aims to immerse Brock students in the geographical concepts they’ve learned about in class.

    Brock students are invited to learn more about earning credit through the Vancouver Field Course (GEOG/TOUR 3F93) at a virtual information session Thursday, Dec. 16 at 1 p.m.

    Applications will soon open for the course, which is delivered during a 10-day trip to Vancouver, B.C. It is scheduled to run from May 23 to June 3, and is offered by the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies.

    Professor Michael Ripmeester, who will teach the course, says that fieldwork was a big part of why he became a geographer, and he is excited to share that experience with students.

    “Talking about geographical concepts in the field helps students see things differently than in lecture,” says Ripmeester. “It is, for example, one thing to talk about residential segregation or neighbourhood change, but it is another to see it and walk through it. I think students are sometimes surprised by the real-world ramifications of the things that we learn about in class when they have to confront them in the real world.”

    The course will help students engage with geographical theories and concepts and witness how geography can influence planning and social policy. It will cover such topics as the historical geography of Vancouver, planning and architecture, public space in the 21st century and the social and cultural geographies of the city.

    While preference is given to majors in the department approaching graduation, any Brock student with two credits from the department’s programs or permission from the instructor is eligible.

    Each student who is accepted will receive a travel award from the Faculty of Social Sciences to help cover travel expenses.

    Registration for the course is capped at 25, so students interested in the course are encouraged to email Ripmeester and to attend Thursday’s information session, where he’ll go into more detail about what the course is designed to do and what students can expect to gain from it.

    “I hope that spending time in the field and exploring a new place fuels their sense of curiosity about world, and perhaps in pursuing more Geography or Tourism courses,” he says.

    Please note that as of Sept. 7, 2021, Brock University’s vaccine mandate is in effect. Students and faculty must be fully vaccinated to participate in this field course and must provide the University with proof of vaccination status. Due to the ongoing uncertainty of COVID-19, details of this field course are subject to change.

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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