Articles tagged with: David Butz

  • Longtime Geography and Tourism Studies staff member retiring this month

    There’s no telling who you might find in Virginia Wagg’s office on any given day.

    Whether it’s a student looking for assistance or a professor working out a scheduling issue or sharing a joke, the Administrative Co-ordinator and Academic advisor’s door is always open.

    And if the gallery of gifts and thank-you cards housed in the space are any indication, her help has been appreciated by the Brock community over her past 27 years with the University.

    Wagg, who will retire this month, came to Brock for a career change, having previously worked as a manager of customer service for commercial accounts at Canadian Tire Acceptance. After three years in Temporary Employment Services, she moved into what is now the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies and has been there ever since.

    Professor and current Department Chair Michael Pisaric says that Wagg’s contributions to student engagement and the daily operations of the department can’t be overstated, and that she can’t be thanked enough.

    “I think when most of our students look back at their time in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, one of their first and best memories is Virginia,” says Pisaric. “She has played a pivotal role in our department for 24 years and her wit, warm-heartedness and institutional knowledge have made her a key component of our department and programs, and across the University as well.”

    Professor Michael Ripmeester agrees, saying the combination of Wagg’s institutional expertise and work ethic make her contributions “impossible to account for.”

    “Whether it is a colleague working through a Workday problem or student who needs just one more course to graduate, Virginia cheerfully offers the required aid,” says Ripmeester. “But it is the little things that I will miss after she retires. Her laid-back manner and good humour bring a positive vibe to the department that will not be easy to replace, nor will her willingness to organize birthday celebrations and Christmas luncheons, to teach people to play euchre, to offer support or consolation when required, or to take a few minutes for a friendly chat. Put simply, Virginia is more than a fantastic colleague, she is also a good friend.”

    Professor David Butz remembers when Wagg joined the department full time in 1997, after Colleen Catling moved to a different position in the University.

    “Colleen helped mentor me into my first job as a professor, was a good friend and an amazing administrative co-ordinator, and I didn’t think we would be able to replace her with someone I liked as well or got along with as well,” says Butz. “Virginia proved me wrong. She, too, has been an amazing administrative co-ordinator, both in the sense of being really good at her job, and also a wonderful and true friend.”

    Butz believes that Wagg’s ability to nurture relationships with individuals in the department has created a true sense of community. “I feel that Virginia, more than anything or anyone else, has held our department together as a unit comprised of friendly and collegial social relationships,” he says.

    “Virginia is a low-key person who doesn’t draw attention to herself,” says Butz. “Her impact on the department and on myself hasn’t turned on key moments or any one thing, but rather, it’s her quiet competence, unfailing helpfulness, informality, patient willingness to listen, strong sense of welcome and hospitality, nurturing and supportive attitude to colleagues and students, unflashy thoughtfulness and generosity, ability not to leak a confidence or secret, and willingness to let us into her own life and her large, active and close family.”

    Many of Wagg’s colleagues say they will remember her thoughtful co-ordination of birthday and work anniversary celebrations, which she managed through a list that included preferences on cake versus pie as well as whether individuals wanted to have a big celebration or fly under the radar.

    They also say they’ll miss her at the lunch-hour euchre games that have long brightened up the department with laughter and ribbing — and helped ensure that coworkers took their much-needed lunch breaks. Wagg also shared her euchre love with the wider Brock community, organizing several successful progressive euchre tournaments at the annual Wellness Day event.

    More than anything else, Wagg says she’ll miss the people and the friendships that have filled her workdays for the past 27 years. She plans to visit and already keeps in touch with several former students and colleagues on social media.

    She’s also looking forward to spending more time with her family — be it travelling with her husband once restrictions are lifted, hanging out with her daughter and granddaughters, or helping her mother host four generations at weekly Sunday dinners.

    Since an in-person celebration is not possible due to public health guidelines, students, alumni, staff and faculty are invited to share fond memories and well wishes online.

    STORY REPOSTED FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • New paper by David Butz: “‘The road changes everything’: Shifting gendered mobilities, spaces and subjectivities in Shimshal, Pakistan”

    A new paper titled, “‘The road changes everything’: Shifting gendered mobilities, spaces and subjectivities in Shimshal, Pakistan” by Dr. David Butz and Dr. Nancy Cook (Department of Sociology) was recently published in Gender, Place and Culture.

    Abstract:
    Shimshal is the most recent village in the Gojal region of northern Pakistan to gain road access to the Karakoram Highway. This paper analyzes relational reconfigurations of gendered mobilities, spaces and subjectivities in the community that are contoured by the ensuing shift in local mobility system, in which vehicular mobility replaces walking as the means to access the highway. Drawing on longitudinal ethnographic data, we describe pedestrian-era gendered movement patterns and spaces, and the ways in which modernizing road infrastructure has reorganized mobilities and regendered village spaces. We then analyze changes in gender performances and self-representations that are commensurate to the modernized spaces in which they are enacted. We conclude by assessing the uneven and unanticipated consequences of these mobility-inflected processes for gendered futures in the community.

    Reference:  
    Cook, N. & Butz, D. (2021) ‘The road changes everything’: Shifting gendered mobilities, spaces and subjectivities in Shimshal, Pakistan. Gender, Place & Culture, 28(10), 800-822. DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2020.1811643. Read the full paper here.

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  • Symposium to highlight social justice research partnerships

    FROM THE BROCK NEWS | by 

    Researchers from Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute (SJRI), who have teamed up with community partners on funded projects, will have their work showcased at an upcoming free, public event.

    The virtual symposium, Social Justice and Community Collaboration, takes place online Tuesday, Sept. 28 from noon to 2 p.m. as part of the ongoing Faculty of Social Sciences Symposium Series. Everyone is welcome to take part, but advance registration is required.

    “Our affiliates have been doing innovative and compelling social justice-oriented projects in collaboration with community groups, both locally and internationally,” says Rebecca Raby, Director of SJRI and a Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies. “At this symposium, we want to share these projects, and to inspire other faculty and community members to think about the exciting range of collaborative projects that can be pursued.”

    The symposium will feature the following presentations:

    • “Reflections on the Key Principles of a Successful ‘Community-University’ Research Partnership,” presented by Andrea Doucet of the Department of Sociology, Canada Research Chair in Gender, Work and Care, with Evan Jewell of X University and Master of Arts Sociology Research Assistant Jessica Falk.
    • “Body/Land/Sovereignty through Photography: Reflecting on a workshop with young Haudenosaunee women,” presented by Sherri Vansickle of the Tecumseh Centre for Aboriginal Research and Education, with Margot Francis of the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies and Department of Sociology.
    • “Road Construction, Mobility and Social Change in a Wakhi Village: Shimshali Perspectives in Words and Pictures,” presented by David Butz of the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, with Nancy Cook of the Department of Sociology.
    • “Collaborating with community to explore social exclusion and inclusion experiences of immigrant women in Niagara,” presented by Joanne Crawford of the Department of Nursing.
    • “Children Reading and Writing Photographs — Critical Literacies and Collaborations,” presented by Diane Collier of the Department of Educational Studies, with Melissa McKinney-Leep of the District School Board of Niagara and graduate students Simranjeet Kaur and Zachary Rondinelli.

    Raby says that as public health restrictions have eased, greater opportunities for collaboration have begun to open up, so she is eager to introduce new Brock faculty members and SJRI affiliates to the research that is already taking place.

    “Community partnerships provide an opportunity to meet community needs, to inform decision-making, to connect with local participants, to try something new and to build relationships,” says Raby. “They encourage us to tackle social issues in a collaborative way that can transcend a specific disciplinary focus and to work with faculty from outside of our own disciplines in order to have comprehensive engagements with community needs. They can invite us to see our scholarly work a little differently.”

    SJRI funding grants have been part of the Institute from its creation and are designed to “include social justice and transdisciplinary components, creating a shared focus on positive community-oriented social change,” according to Raby. The grants provide opportunities for both junior and established researchers to develop community-based research programs, facilitate relationship-building and lay the groundwork for larger funding applications.

    There are currently 80 researchers affiliated with SJRI, and new researchers are always welcome to get involved

    “SJRI offers opportunities for faculty members who are concerned about social justice and interested in transdisciplinary scholarship to connect with each other across the university,” says Raby. “We also post regular information about projects that community organizations are interested in pursuing in collaboration with Brock.”

    Anyone interested in learning more about SJRI or the process for becoming an SJRI affiliate should contact Project Facilitator Julie Gregory via email, and attend next week’s symposium to explore possibilities.

    To register for the event or for more information, visit the symposium web page.

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • Flight PK404: 32 years after the disappearance of the plane a Canadian researcher relives his narrow escape

    FROM THE HIGH ASIA HERALD | By: Dr. David Butz

    Flight PK404

    On the morning of August 25, 1989, I was walking from the Park Hotel to the Gilgit Airport, feeling happy, excited and satisfied. I had successfully completed a three-month research season in Shimshal village of Gojal, upper Hunza followed by a few days’ relaxations at Karimabad and Gilgit, and was now beginning my journey back home to Canada. Moreover, through a stroke of good fortune (and the influence of well-positioned friends in Gilgit) I had managed to secure a confirmed seat on Flight PK404, travelling from Gilgit to Islamabad (never an easy feat). This was my first chance to make this journey by plane, after nine previous long and uncomfortable trips on the Karakoram Highway by bus, public van, or private vehicle. I was in high spirits.

    As I was walking to the airport with my heavy backpack and other luggage a Danish friend (Micael Junkov) who was working in Gilgit pulled up in a Toyota Hilux pickup truck to enquire where I was going. I told him I was headed for the airport to catch a flight to Islamabad. Micael said I’m driving to Islamabad today. Why not come with me? I replied, “because I have a confirmed booking on this morning’s flight”. Micael looked at the sky and observed, “I don’t think the flight will operate today, because the weather is cloudy. Either come with me now or take your chances”.

    Flights from Gilgit only fly in fair weather, even today, and the road journey takes a full day, so he wasn’t willing to wait to see if the plane would depart with me onboard. Micael was more familiar with flying from Gilgit than I was, so I accepted his invitation and hopped in the truck, thereby unknowingly saving my life. As it turned out, Flight PK404 departed from the airport, lost radio contact nine minutes later, and subsequently disappeared along with its 49 passengers and five crew members. Thirty-two years on, no trace of the plane has since been discovered.

    When I arrived in Islamabad I took a taxi to a cheap hotel in Rawalpindi to relax for a few days before catching my international flight to Canada. I didn’t have access to a radio or TV and didn’t happen to buy an English-language newspaper, so I remained unaware of the plane’s tragic and mysterious disappearance and my own narrow escape. In those days using a PCO (Public Call Office) to make international telephone calls from Pakistan was complicated and time-consuming, so it was fully two days later that I managed to place a call to Canada to confirm my arrival date and time with my partner Nancy. That’s when I learned of the tragedy. Nancy had heard of the plane’s disappearance the day it happened and spent two anxious days wondering if I had been on the flight.

    Ghulam Muhammad Baig, popularly known as G.M. Baig. Photo credit: Dr Inam Baig

    Several people we knew were on board, including Ghulam Muhammad Baig, popularly known as G.M. Baig, owner of a bookstore in Gilgit that served as a hub for local intellectuals and a haven for many foreigners travelling through Gilgit in those days.

    I offer my continuing condolences to the families of the passengers and crew, who have still to learn any details of their loved ones’ fate. I often wonder who among the standby passengers was given my seat (no doubt to their delight), thereby inadvertently trading their life for mine. I later learned that several other Pakistani friends also had confirmed seats, but made the same decision as I did to make the trip by road given the cloudy weather and the likelihood that the flight would be cancelled.

    For many years subsequently, Nancy and I avoided flying between Gilgit and Islamabad, preferring the discomfort of public transport by road. In the past decade or so we have flown this route numerous times (it is breathtaking), but always with a heavy dose of trepidation. To date, I have made the journey between Gilgit and Islamabad 40 times, eight times by air and 32 times by road. One of those eight flights was in summer 2010 when much of Pakistan was under water, and the Karakoram Highway was impassable in many places because of torrential rains and flash floods. I was among an assortment of foreigners, VIPs and military personnel who were airlifted from Gilgit in C-130 military cargo planes. Although the stakes were not high for me (it was just a matter of catching my scheduled international flight), this was another exciting flight.

    Heartfelt thanks to Micael Junkov and the hand of fate. Together they allowed me to trade an early death at the age of 28 for a pleasant 14-hour drive down the Karakoram Highway in a private (and air-conditioned) vehicle. Without their intervention, I would have missed a lot.

    Dr David Butz is a Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies at Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Studies in Social Justice.

    STORY FROM THE HIGH ASIA HERALD

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  • Julia Hamill successfully defends MA Geography thesis

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate Master of Arts in Geography student, Julia Hamill, on the successful defence of her thesis titled “‘Molida’, That’s Shimshali Food: Modernization, Mobility, Food Talk, and the Constitution of Identity in Shimshal, Pakistan” as well as on the successful completion of all requirements for the MA in Geography.

    Congratulations and thanks to Julia’s supervisory committee: Dr. David Butz (Supervisor), Dr. Mike Ripmeester (Committee Member) and Dr. Nancy Cook (Committee Member).

    Many thanks as well to Julia’s External Examiner, Dr. Hasan Karrar (Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan) and Defence Chair, Dr. Rosemary Condillac.

    Wishing you all the best with your future endeavours, Julia!

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  • Book celebrates work of late Brock cartographer

    Alun Hughes, a longtime member of Brock’s Department of Geography, had an enormous appetite for local history.

    Between 2003 and his untimely death in 2013, the trained cartographer wrote extensively about the geography and history of the Niagara region.

    Hoping to honour his passion, Hughes’ former colleagues have come together to release a book of his essays, History Made in Niagara, and will host a launch for the publication on Wednesday, May 29.

    The book was compiled by Hughes’ former colleagues from the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, Professors Mike Ripmeester and David Butz and retired cartographer Loris Gasparotto.

    Everyone is welcome to attend the free event, to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at Brock’s Pond Inlet.

    History Made in Niagara can be purchased at the launch for $35 (cash only).

    More information about the event can be found on ExperienceBU or by calling 905-688-5550 x3484.

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  • New book builds bridge between mobility and social justice

    Having choices about when, where and how to move — and when to stay put — is at the core of mobility justice, a new concept that is developing at the nexus of mobility studies and social justice scholarship.

    A recently published book, Mobilities, Mobility Justice and Social Justice, edited by Nancy Cook, Associate Professor of Sociology, and David Butz, Professor of Geography, explores “the ways social inequities are constituted in relation to mobility,” says Cook.

    The newly established field of mobility studies looks at the differential flows of people, ideas, food and animals, and the related infrastructures that facilitate such uneven mobilities, such as roads, trains, airplanes, fibre optic cables and the internet.

    “Mobility justice is a concept developing in the mobilities literature that examines how differences in mobility capabilities can contribute to social inequalities,” says Cook.

    Mobilities, Mobility Justice and Social Justice, edited by Nancy Cook, Associate Professor of Sociology, and David Butz, Professor of Geography, explores how social inequities are constituted in relation to mobility.

    The topics and regions represented in the book exemplify the “deeply transdisciplinary nature” of mobility studies, she says. “It has put us in contact with a whole different set of scholars from all over the world who we didn’t have access to before.”

    Contributing authors, who come from philosophy, gender studies, communications studies, architecture, transport planning, public administration, geography and sociology, were asked to think about and analyze particular mobility-related injustices using specific social justice concepts.

    “This was to strengthen the justice focus of mobility analyses, and to bring thinking about the mobility-based aspects of injustice to social justice theorising,” says Cook.

    The result is a diverse collection of empirical case studies that illustrate how “different scales, types and facets of mobility interact with particular kinds of social relations to (re)produce inequalities,” she says. Chapters explore issues such as LGBTQ communities’ access to public space, global air travel, ferry service, urban cycling, forced migration, food waste and even tick migration.

    “Most chapters in the book are interested in access or impediments to movement, the way certain sorts of movement are imagined ideologically, and how that shapes people’s access to social justice or shapes inequitable social relations,” says Butz.

    Butz and Cook saw first-hand the social justice implications of mobility infrastructure in their SSHRC-funded research project on the Shimshal Road in Pakistan. During the road’s construction, locals looked forward to a time when they would not have to carry everything on their backs through the mountains. However, the effects of switching from a pedestrian to a vehicular mobility regime have been complicated.

    “We actually see a deepening of particular kinds of inequalities by age and gender,” says Cook. Men and students are “differentially benefitting” from access to this new mobility platform in relation to women and older adults.

    According to Butz, mobility justice is more than simple efficiency of movement.

    “We see social class and social advantage manifested in the way people travel. The trip from St. Catharines to Toronto is different for the person on the bus, in a car or on the Go train,” he says. “These experiences work into people’s identities and understandings of themselves in relation to the world.”

    Mobility justice is as much about staying in one place as it is about access to movement. It’s about the ability to make choices in relation to mobility. “Many commuters would prefer to work near where they live and not feel compelled to move,” says Cook. Infrastructure enables people to live far away from their jobs but relegates them to cheaper suburbs and long commutes.

    Like social justice, mobility justice is most often noticed in its absence.

    “We get at justice by looking at injustice,” he says. But there are movements towards mobility justice, at least for some people. “An accessibility regime at a university is a positive example of achieving social justice for a group through a focus on enabling their mobility.”

    The two say their interest in mobility justice emerged from and is supported by their work with the Social Justice and Equity Studies program and the Social Justice Research Institute.

    “Mobility justice has taken our research in a really new direction which has been very exciting,” says Cook.

    STORY REPOSTED FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • Geography student studies why some people live on the road

    STORY FROM THE TORONTO STAR | DEC 6, 2018

    Graduate student in the driver's seat of a van she bought for research

    Brock University graduate student Stephanie Murray studied movible communities in a van she bought on Kijiji. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    When Stephanie Murray, a Geography master’s student at Brock University, set out on a two-month long journey across North America to study nomads and vanlife culture, she didn’t expect to find herself learning to surf, contributing to a documentary film, or being surrounded by a pack of angry stray dogs. But she quickly learned that life on the road is full of unexpected twists and turns.

    An avid traveller, Murray stumbled onto vanlife culture. She was fascinated by the people she met, and quickly realized that although nomads living in vans had been around for years, no one had studied them yet.

    “I knew there was a gap in academia that I could fill,” Murray says. “But if I wanted to truly study this culture, I needed to be able to live and move like they did.”

    “Lola” in the field during her two-month research journey across North America. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    Using funding from Brock and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant, she purchased a used van on Kijiji. Naming it Lola, she converted the vehicle into 66 square feet of living space. Then, over the summer of 2017, she drove to the west coast of the United States to attend “van gatherings,” events where people who live and travel in their vans get together to socialize and support one another. It’s a diverse group, says Murray. “One of the couples I spoke to worked remotely in IT, another couple ran a blog, and one of the other vanlifers was making money from a book he’d written. They’re a pretty talented bunch.”

    She was out to discover their motivation for giving up conventional lives and instead choosing a highly mobile lifestyle. “Our society is oriented towards people who stay in one place, and van nomads help to call that way of thinking into question.”

    “I have encountered so much kindness on the road,” Murray added. “People have welcomed me into their homes and helped me with my van, with no expectation of anything in return. And while the vanlifers I interviewed took up this lifestyle for a variety of reasons, they were united by a desire to choose their own path, rather than the one that’s handed down to them.”

    Murray was thankful that she received the full backing of the University during her time on the road.

    “Brock supported me fully from day one. And that support meant that I was able to do this research in the way it needed to be done — in person, on the road. I lived and moved alongside the people I was studying, and never once did I have to make any compromises that would have hurt the quality of my research. The University made sure I had the resources to do it right.”

    Master's student in the field during trip across north america. Standing in the foggy mountains.

    Research doesn’t have to happen in the lab. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    Murray’s faculty supervisor and the Graduate Program Director of Geography at Brock,  Dr. David Butz, believed her research was novel and important, given today’s mobile society. Becoming a van nomad herself was pivotal.

    “This research strategy — and life choice — gives her research an unusually strong experiential and autobiographical component, which is rare in ‘mobilities’ research, and which adds to the distinctiveness and potential significance of her research,” says Butz. “We also felt Stephanie’s unusual research project, while logistically complicated, was worth supporting. We were confident about her capabilities based on her history with the University. At Brock, we encourage applications from good students and we’re willing to put funding behind that — and provide them with mentoring to apply for external funding.  Brock can offer lots of personalized attention to students.”

    Research doesn’t have to happen in a lab. There are interesting and exciting things going on around us everywhere, and at Brock University, unique postgraduate research projects in the community are encouraged.

    For her part, Murray is grateful for the support she received from Brock. “This research changed the course of my life, and it showed me that it’s possible to turn your passion into a ground-breaking research project,” she said. “If you have a clear vision of what you want to discover, Brock can help you on that pursuit.”

    Interested in studying in the Master of Arts in Geography program at Brock? Apply by February 15 to start next September.


    Story reposted from The Toronto Star

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  • New book by David Butz explores mobilities, mobility justice and social justice

    Drs. Nancy Cook (Associate Professor, Department of Sociology) and David Butz (Professor, Geography and Tourism Studies), recently published a book titled Mobilities, Mobility Justice and Social JusticeLearn more about the book below.

    Mobilities, Mobility Justice and Social Justice cover. By Drs. Nancy Cook and David Butz.

    Description:This collection investigates the relationship between mobilities and social justice to develop the concept of mobility justice.

    Two introductory chapters outline how social justice concepts can strengthen analyses of mobility as socially structured movement in particular fields of power, what new justice-related questions arise by considering uneven mobilities through a social justice frame, and what a ‘mobile ontology’ contributes to understandings of justice in relation to 21st-century social relations. In 15 subsequent chapters, authors analyze the material infrastructures that configure mobilities and co-constitute injustice, the justice implications of ‘more-than-human’ movements of food and animals, and mobility-related injustices produced in relation to institutional acts of governance and through micro-scale embodied relations of race, gender, class and sexuality that shape the uneven freedom of human bodily movements.

    The volume brings numerous scales, types and facets of mobility into conversation with multiple approaches to social justice in order to theorize mobility justice and reimagine social justice as a mobile concept appropriate for analyzing the effects and ethics of contemporary life. It is aimed at scholars and upper-level students in the interdisciplinary fields of critical mobilities and social justice, especially from disciplinary locations in geography, sociology, philosophy, transport planning, anthropology, and design and urban studies.

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  • Congratulations to Adam Fischer on the successful completion of his MA in Geography thesis

    Adam Fischer successfully defended his MA in Geography thesis. Pictured here (L to R): David Butz (GPD); Phillip Mackintsoh (sumervisor); Adam Fischer; Chris Fullerton (committee member); and Alan Walks (external examiner)

    Pictured from left to right: Dr. David Butz (Graduate Program Director); Dr. Phillip Mackintosh (supervisor); Adam Fischer; Dr. Chris Fullerton (committee member); and Dr. Alan Walks (external examiner, University of Toronto).

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to extend congratulations to Adam Fischer and his committee for the successful defense of his Master of Arts in Geography thesis entitled ‘A Domestic Geography of Money: How Mortgage Debt, Home Prices and Toronto’s Condominiums “Prop Up” the Canadian Economy’.

    Adam’s research was supervised by Dr. Phillip Mackintosh, and committee members, Dr. Jeffrey Boggs and Dr. Christopher Fullerton. Many thanks to External Examiner, Dr. Alan Walks (Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto).

    We wish Adam all the best for his future endeavours!

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