The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies is pleased to congratulate Geography Master of Arts student, Rebekah Casey (BA Tourism and Environment ’19), who was recently awarded a Faculty of Social Sciences Master of Arts Student Research Award for her research, tentatively titled “There’s No Place Like (Rural) Home: Why People Choose Rural Despite Decline.” Congratulations also to Rebekah’s MA supervisor, Dr. Christopher Fullerton.
Articles tagged with: alumni
A new paper authored by Geography and Tourism Studies Associate Professor, Dr. Kevin Turner, and Geography alumni Michelle Pearce and Daniel Hughes titled “Detailed Characterization and Monitoring of a Retrogressive Thaw Slump from Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and Identifying Associated Influence on Carbon and Nitrogen Export” has been published in Remote Sensing. This paper is open-access and available to download here.
Ice-rich permafrost landscapes are sensitive to ongoing changes in climate. Permafrost retrogressive thaw slumps (RTSs) represent one of the more abrupt and prolonged disturbances, which occur along Arctic river and lake shorelines. These features impact local travel and infrastructure, and there are many questions regarding associated impacts on biogeochemical cycling. Predicting the duration and magnitude of impacts requires that we enhance our knowledge of RTS geomorphological drivers and rates of change. Here we demonstrate the utility of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) for documenting the volumetric change, associated drivers and potential impacts of the largest active RTS along the Old Crow River in Old Crow Flats, Yukon, Canada. RPAS surveys revealed that 29,174 m3 of sediment was exported during the initial evacuation in June 2016 and an additional 18,845 m3 continued to be exported until June 2019. More sediment export occurred during the warmer 2017 summer that experienced less cumulative rainfall than summer 2018. However, several rain events during 2017 were of higher intensity than during 2018. Overall mean soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN) within sampled thaw slump sediment was 1.36% and 0.11%, respectively. A combination of multispectral, thermal and irradiance (derived from the RPAS digital surface model) data provided detailed classification of thaw slump floor terrain types including raised dry clay lobes, shaded and relatively stable, and low-lying evacuation-prone sediments. Notably, the path of evacuation-prone sediments extended to a series of ice wedges in the northern headwall, where total irradiance was highest. Using thaw slump floor mean SOC and TN values in conjunction with sediment bulk density and thaw slump fill volume, we estimated that 713 t SOC and 58 t TN were exported to the Old Crow River during the three-year study. Findings showcase the utility of high-resolution RPAS datasets for refining our knowledge of thaw slump geomorphology and associated impacts.
Turner K.W., Pearce M.D., and Hughes D.D. (2021). Detailed Characterization and Monitoring of a Retrogressive Thaw Slump from Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and Identifying Associated Influence on Carbon and Nitrogen Export. Remote Sensing, 13(2):171. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13020171
When Alan Nursall returned to Brock University 40 years after graduating to receive the 2019 Distinguished Graduate Award for the Faculty of Social Sciences, campus wasn’t quite the same as it was when he’d left.
“Brock in 2019 is a completely different place, and I mean that in a good way,” says Nursall (BA ’79). “The campus has grown so much and seems so much more imposing than it did in the 70s. But that’s a good thing — its growth is a sign of its success.”
Even with all of the changes, Nursall’s feeling when he comes to Brock is always the same. “Every time I return, up to and including this year, I get a warm feeling recalling the friends and fun from those four years.”
Since Nursall completed his Geography studies at Brock, he has become a widely known science educator, with a face easily recognizable from his popular segment, The Alan Nursall Experience, on the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet.
He joined the staff of Science North when it opened in 1984 and worked as the science director for its companion facility, Dynamic Earth, from 1999 to 2007.
He then went on to open NEXT Exhibits + Creative Communication, a firm specializing in creating exhibits and experiences for museums and science centres, working with the likes of the Smithsonian Institution and the Canadian Space Agency to make science accessible, engaging and fun.
In 2014, Nursall was appointed President and CEO of TELUS World of Science – Edmonton, a science centre operated by the Edmonton Space & Science Foundation, where he continues his work blending learning with entertainment.
“I ended up spending 35 years working science centres, an incredibly satisfying career that I never dreamed of in school,” says Nursall. “But my post-secondary education sure made it possible.”
Though he is back in Edmonton now, Nursall was a long way from his Alberta home when he came to Brock in 1975. With a few good friends and a program that excited and challenged him, he found his footing by the end of his first year.
“I still remember the first time someone called me Cowboy because I was from Alberta,” says Nursall. “I was born and raised in suburban Edmonton, but the nickname stuck, and for most of my four years at Brock, I was called Cowboy by pretty much everybody.”
Nursall says the nickname still makes him smile, and still comes to mind from time to time, as it did a few years ago when he had the opportunity to take a zero-G flight, flying 15 parabolas and thus having 15 weightless episodes.
“As part of the flight, you were asked to adopt a nickname,” Nursall says. “I requested the nickname Cowboy, and that name tag from the zero-G flight now sits prominently in my den, a reminder of the flight, but also of my time at Brock.”
Nursall credits his fourth year in the Geography program as having the strongest impact on his trajectory as a science educator. He notes three key factors: his great professors, some challenging research projects and the fact that his was the first class to be assigned a weekly internship.
“My internship was at the Atmospheric Environment Service headquarters in Toronto, where I took on a project under the guidance of climatologist Dave Phillips, the originator of the weather trivia calendar and now famous across the country as the Senior Climatologist for Environment Canada,” says Nursall. “Working with Dave, I undertook a research project that turned into a summer job and then turned into a graduate degree.”
“The internship program really shaped my life, creating connections and opportunity that I never would have imagined possible. I have deep respect and affection for the professors in the Geography department who were always looking for ways to expand our horizons beyond the textbooks and classrooms.”
When Nursall attended Fall Homecoming to receive his award, he received another gift as well — a copy of History Made in Niagara, the book of Professor Alun Hughes’ writings published posthumously last spring. Nursall says the gift was a highlight of his visit.
“Alun was a good friend and mentor,” says Nursall, who still has a photo of the two men playing in a student-faculty soccer game around the fall of 1978.
Nursall emphasizes that he didn’t know what career he would pursue while he was at Brock, but instead he sought out opportunities that challenged and interested him. He would encourage students to embrace their experiences here.
“Your education doesn’t prescribe your career — it prepares you for it, and for life in general,” Nursall says. “Your education doesn’t fill your brain with information, it helps you become a better thinker. And that is what drives success. That is what expands your world.”
Read Dr. Pius Siakwah’s (Brock MA GEOG ’12) new paper titled “Tourism Governance and Attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa” online in Tourism Planning and Development.
Abstract: Inclusiveness that improves tourism governance is significant for development if benefits from tourism are distributed equitably. Declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism and adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have seemingly brought tourism to the forefront of development even where the SDGs have limited tourism focus. This paper examines how tourism governance is poorly applied in Africa. It interrogates the challenges of integrating tourism governance, mining, and conservation within the SDGs framework in Africa. Sustainable tourism governance frameworks have not comprehensively inculcated trust, justice, social capital, power, and participation. Using mining and conservation in South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively, it analyses how mining affects sustainability, as actors in tourism are unable to conserve and protect tourism sites. Achieving the SDGs requires collaboration between international actors, governments, the private sector, and locals in an inclusive governance based on justice, inclusion trust and equitable power relations.
(2019) Tourism Governance and Attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa,Tourism Planning & Development,
On March 28, 2019, a group of Geography and Tourism Studies students travelled to Ball’s Falls Conservation Centre to volunteer at the 2019 Ontario Farmland Forum. This event was organized by the Ontario Farmland Trust, which is currently led by Executive Director, Kathryn Enders (Brock BA GEOG ’06).
The Forum looked at different approaches to protecting farmland in broader landscapes, including the waterways, woodlots, hedgerows, and fields that make up farm systems. It featured presentations by Dr. Chris Fullerton, and Geography alumna Sara Epp (BA GEOG ’08; MA GEOG ’13).
More details can be found on the Farmland Forum website.
On March 8, 2019, the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies held our first Alumni-Student Mixer event. The night began with an alumni panel where four alumni from our programs answered questions and shared about their experiences during their studies at Brock and life after Brock. This discussion was followed by time for our alumni, students, faculty, staff and retirees to network with each other.
We would like to thank everyone who attended, and say a special thanks to our four alumni panelists:
- Rebecca Anello, Junior Meteorological Technologist, Environment and Climate Change Canada. Rebecca graduated from Brock with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Geography in 2014 and a Master of Science in Earth Sciences in 2017.
- Greg Higginbotham, Marketing Manager, Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls. Greg graduated from Brock with a Bachelor of Tourism Studies in 2010 and a Master of Arts in Applied Health Sciences (Leisure Studies) in 2014.
- Kerrie Pickering, PhD Candidate in Sustainability, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Kerrie graduated from Brock with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies in 2010 and a Master of Arts in Geography in 2013.
- Edward Stubbing, Senior Transportation Planner, AECOM. Edward graduated from Brock with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Geography 2009.
Whether you realize it or not, geographic information systems (GIS) are part of your everyday life.
When you plan a trip in Google Maps, you’re using GIS. When news outlets use maps to add visuals to stories, they are made through GIS.
But the software’s value doesn’t end there.
GIS is used for spatial analysis, city planning, viticulture research, environment research and sport analysis. Last year’s Esri Canada Scholarship winner from Brock, Kyle Rankin, used GIS to analyze hockey, investigating shots on goal to determine the best place to shoot from in hopes of scoring.
In an effort to help inform the Brock community of the innovative uses of GIS, the University’s Map, Data and GIS Library is hosting an event on Thursday, March 7.
Esri Canada, from whom Brock licenses its GIS software, will be at the map library (MCC 306) from 10 to 11:30 a.m. to detail various GIS uses and to answer questions from the University community.
Esri representatives will discuss both the researcher side of the software for students and faculty, looking at how GIS can support their work, and the administrative side, looking at how GIS can be used for areas such as recruitment and facilities management.
Register for the event on ExperienceBU.
Story reposted from The Brock News.
Carol Phillips, Research Co-ordinator with the Niagara Community Observatory, presents a brief she wrote about the possibility of Niagara becoming a UNESCO Global Geopark.
With the mighty cataracts, vineyards producing critically acclaimed wines and vast networks of bicycle paths, tourists coming to Niagara have many options of what to see and experience. There’s also a world of rocks, canyons, waterfalls and other land features that even many locals don’t know about.
Niagara’s unique, rich geology — and the economic and cultural activities connected to these features — might be better known if the region was to become a UNESCO Global Geopark, says new research from Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO).
“Being designated a UNESCO Global Geopark allows Niagara to brand itself internationally as a destination for geotourism,” says Carol Phillips, author of the NCO policy brief Ohnia:kara: An Aspiring Global Geopark.
“Niagara has a fascinating Earth history that has created so many beautiful sites, culminating in Niagara Falls,” says Phillips. “And this brand allows us to showcase those sites as well as the history and culture that has developed around them.”
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) describes a Global Geopark as being a “single, unified geographical area where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.”
Spearheading efforts for Niagara to become a UNESCO Global Geopark is the geographic educational non-profit group called Geospatial Niagara. The NCO policy brief says the group has identified more than 78 geosites in the region that are of geological, environmental or cultural interest.
These include the Welland Canal, the Wainfleet Bog, Beamer Falls, Balls Falls, the Mewinzha Archaeology Gallery in Fort Erie and historical sites from the War of 1812, among others.
The NCO policy brief says, under a geopark system, Niagara Falls would still remain the major draw for visitors to the area. But the tourism industry could be expanded by creating a niche for geotourists interested in seeing Earth history and the historical and cultural sites that have evolved from these unique and significant land features.
The brief notes that the Niagara Escarpment, on which Brock University sits, has been a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve since 1990. A geopark designation with infrastructure such as visitor centres and plaques with QR codes “can help the Biosphere Reserve tell its story by guiding people to lesser known geosites as the escarpment winds to its greatest asset, Niagara Falls,” says the brief.
Darren Platakis, Executive Director of Geospatial Niagara, says another big advantage of Niagara being designated a UNESCO Global Geopark is that it could provide a strong educational component for Niagara students from kindergarten to Grade 12.
“A Geopark will provide opportunities for students to not only learn and begin to understand our geology and how it is so interdependent with our environment, culture and history, but they can also gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the 12,000 years of Indigenous history in Niagara,” says Platakis.
“This Indigenous history is an extremely important element to the overall development of the application and programming for the Geopark,” he says. “Students, local residents and tourists will see Niagara with a new set of eyes.”
Platakis says the designation could also attract researchers and students to the area, with programs and services connecting into a wide range of studies at Brock and Niagara College.
Geospatial Niagara submitted an expression of interest to the Canadian National Committee for Geoparks and is in the process of applying to UNESCO to become a Global Geopark.
The NCO’s policy brief looks at the costs and benefits of geoparks in China, the United Kingdom and France and concludes that a UNESCO Global Geopark designation could benefit all 12 municipalities in Niagara.
“This policy brief encourages all levels of government and sectors of society in Niagara to consider the benefits of a UNESCO Global Geopark and how they may each play a part to make it a reality,” says NCO Director Charles Conteh.
“The vision behind the Global Geopark initiative in Niagara is closely aligned with the sociocultural and economic advancement of the region,” he says. “Leveraging and promoting this initiative should be a fundamentally community-driven effort if it is to be sustainable.”
The NCO brief lays out a number of “next steps” in making the UNESCO Global Geopark a reality in Niagara, emphasizing that it will take a broad community effort across the environment, education and tourism sectors.
Story reposted from The Brock News.
Brock University releases policy brief on initiative
REPOSTED FROM THE ST. CATHARINES STANDARD
February 07, 2019 | By: Allan Benner
Niagara’s tourism potential should not be limited to Niagara Falls.
And an initiative launched about five years ago by Geospatial Niagara should help the region boost its potential for drawing visitors to some of the more remote attractions the peninsula has to offer.
Niagara Community Observatory research co-ordinator Carol Phillips presented a new policy brief Thursday morning that focuses on the potential that developing a UNESCO Global Geopark could hold for Niagara — such as bringing more tourists to the area and giving them reasons to stay longer.
Phillips said a proposed geopark, to be called Ohnia:kara, would encompass the entire Niagara Region and highlight at least 78 attractions in all 12 local municipalities — “from Beamer Falls in Grimsby to Niagara Falls, from the Wainfleet Bog and Welland Canal, all the way on down.”She described it as an “international geo-tourism brand” that can be used by communities to promote natural and heritage resources while focusing on sustainable economic development and fostering conservation and education.
For a tourism-focused region such as Niagara, she said being designated a UNESCO Global Geopark “is a way to advertise to potential visitors that this is a geography that you need to see and experience, and that includes everything from its geology through to its cultural history and its economic character.”
She said there were 12.9 million person visits to Niagara in 2017, of which 8.4 million were visitors from elsewhere in the province, and those visitors spent $2.36 billion during their stays.
“But less than half of those visitors stayed overnight, and of those who did the bulk of them only stay one night, maybe two,” Phillips said.
A geopark designation, she added, will help promote Niagara “as more than just the day trip.”
Phillips stressed that there is no regulatory limitations associated with the UNESCO designation that would further limit land use planning in the region.
The initiative was first proposed about five years ago by Geospatial Niagara founder Darren Platakis, who first learned about a geopark in southern New Brunswick called Stonehammer.
“When I stumbled upon the Stonehammer geopark site, all I saw was potential and opportunity,” Platakis said.
He said the initiative is “all about creating those opportunities and living up to the potential that Niagara has, globally — beyond Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake.”
“We have such a wealth of sites to see, opportunities,” he added.
Platakis said the initiative holds a great deal of educational potential, too.
Although a mandate of Geospatial Niagara is promoting geo-literacy, he said many Grade 12 students can’t identify all the municipalities within Niagara Region.
“That’s because they’re not invested in their communities. They don’t learn about their communities.”
The global geopark initiative is “a way to attract students to Niagara to do research, to keep students here, for students that are from Niagara that go away to university it’s a stronger pull factor for them to come back to their communities if they become involved,” he said.
Geospatial Niagara secretary Ian Lucas said funding will be needed to continue moving the project forward.
“We have lofty goals and realistic expenses,” he said, responding to a question from an audience of about 40 people.
“We will be coming to the point very soon where we will be actually coming out and saying, here’s our ask. This is what we would like in terms of financial support, idea support, in-kind support.”
Lucas said the organization will continue meeting with municipal councils to discuss plans and potential.
Phillips said much of the preliminary work has been completed by Geospatial Niagara.
For instance, she said a formal expression of interest has been submitted to the Canadian National Committee for Geoparks, allowing Ohnia:kara to officially be identified as an aspiring geopark.
Platakis struggled with emotion while reflecting on the progress that had been made towards making a project he started five years ago a reality.
“If you would have said to me last year at this time we’d be here today doing this, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.”
But thanks to the work of Geospatial Niagara members, Niagara Community Observatory and community support, Platakis said efforts to establish the geopark have reached “the end of one chapter and the beginning of another one.”
Story reposted from The St. Catharines Standard.
Visitors coming to Niagara have lots to see and do thanks to the region being a top tourism destination.
New research by Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) says there’s potential to enhance Niagara’s vibrant tourism industry if the region were to become a UNESCO Global Geopark.
A Global Geopark is an area containing “sites and landscapes of international geological significance,” according to UNESCO.
“Being designated a UNESCO Global Geopark allows Niagara to brand itself internationally as a destination for geotourism,” says Carol Phillips, author of the NCO’s policy brief Ohnia:kara, An Aspiring Global Geopark.
“Niagara has a fascinating earth history that has created so many beautiful sites, culminating in Niagara Falls,” she says. “This brand allows us to showcase those sites as well as the history and culture that has developed around them.”
The policy brief discusses the concept of a geopark in more detail, describes the efforts of the geographic educational non-profit Geospatial Niagara to apply to become a geopark, offers case studies from other areas of the world and outlines “next steps” in the application process.
The NCO will launch the policy brief Ohnia:kara, An Aspiring Global Geopark Thursday, Feb. 7 at Brock University. A panel will discuss the brief and the way forward for Niagara.
What: Launching of NCO policy brief Ohnia:kara, An Aspiring Global Geopark
When: Thursday, Feb. 7 from 9 to 11 a.m.
Where: Room 207, Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex, Brock University
Who: Carol Phillips, Research Co-ordinator, Niagara Community Observatory
Panelists: Darren Platakis, Geospatial Niagara, Ohnia:kara Steering Committee; David Fennell, Professor, Geography and Tourism, Brock University, Ohnia:kara Steering Committee; Walter Sendzik, Mayor, St. Catharines; Phil Davis, Indigenous Culture Liaison, Ohnia:kara Steering Committee.
Story reposted from The Brock News.