Articles tagged with: funding

  • Brock research teams awarded federal funding for community partnerships

    Three Brock University teams have received a boost in funding for projects that aim to help Niagara organizations meet the needs of women and children during the pandemic and provide opportunities for Indigenous communities in the region’s tourism industry.

    The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) has awarded the researchers a total of $57,477 through the Partnership Engage Grant (PEG) program, which provides short-term support for partnered research activities that respond to immediate needs and time constraints facing public, private or not-for-profit organizations in non-academic sectors.

    With the funding, Political Science Professor Charles Conteh and his Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) group are working with the YWCA Niagara Region to raise awareness of the need for safe and affordable housing for women locally and to identify systemic barriers facing under-represented women.

    Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Monique Somma and her team are partnering with the not-for-profit forest school Nature School and Education Centre in Lincoln to get a better understanding of how forest schools impact students’ mental health and well-being.

    Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies David Fennell and colleagues have teamed up with the Niagara Regional Native Centre to develop new tourism opportunities for Indigenous people through the Niagara Peninsula Aspiring Global Geopark, an initiative that explores how the region’s unique cultural and Indigenous heritage has been influenced by the peninsula’s underlying geology.

    Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon says the PEG awards are a testament to Brock’s effectiveness in forming dynamic community research partnerships.

    “The projects headed by Dr. Conteh, Dr. Somma and Dr. Fennell are powerful examples of how researchers and community organizations can come together to create positive change,” he says. “Each partner brings valuable knowledge to the table that, when combined, can make a tremendous difference in the lives of those around us,” says Kenyon.

    “Brock has long seen success with the NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) version of these grants, between science researchers and industry partners,” he says. “With the advent of PEG awards for social science and humanities research, we are seeing the breadth and intensity of Brock researchers’ engagement with the wider community.”

    The NCO and YWCA formed a partnership last year following an NCO presentation on research dealing with affordable housing. The YWCA executive director was a panelist at that event.

    “The co-applicants, Joanne Heritz, Kathy Moscou and myself determined that an NCO-YWCA partnership to advocate for affordable housing would provide an excellent opportunity for the YWCA to advance its goals for affordable housing set forth in its strategic plan for 2019-2024,” says Conteh.

    The team aims to produce evidence-based research that would bring about policy changes to ensure that vulnerable women — particularly those who are Indigenous, racialized, seniors and low-income, among others — have access to emergency, transitional and affordable housing.

    “Further, the YWCA-NCO partnership aims to provide policy options to address housing needs resulting from poverty and worsened by the economic disruption of COVID-19,” says Conteh.

    He says that in 2020, 607 women, 55 men and 51 children in Niagara found sanctuary in YWCA emergency shelters and 120 women, 10 men and 78 children accessed YWCA transitional housing programs.

    Somma’s work with the Nature School and Education Centre follows up on earlier research that the two pursued from the time their partnership formed in 2017. Those results revealed “an increasing need for more focused inquiries on mental health and well-being,” says Somma.

    Forest schools are full- or part-time educational programs conducted in a variety of outdoor contexts, environments, age groups and climates. The programs take a ‘learner-centred’ approach in which children learn through playing, exploring and experimenting in woods or other natural settings.

    “Given the strong connection between time in nature and mental health benefits, outdoor nature programming is touted as one possible way forward to address some of the mental health challenges coming from the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Somma.

    Past research has shown that children aged six and younger have shown improvements in their overall health and well-being, increased motivation, concentration, confidence, knowledge of the natural environment and compassion by participating in forest schools, she says.

    The Nature School and Education Centre is seeking research on the impact of forest schools on older children to help the organization shape its programs and plans, says Somma. The Centre plans to offer about 10 tuition-free spots one day a week to new students and parents who would find this education approach helpful.

    Fennell says his work with the Niagara Regional Native Centre is looking at ways Indigenous people can “build new, cutting-edge tourism economies” connected to the Niagara Peninsula Aspiring Global Geopark.

    A ‘geopark’ is defined by the Global Geopark Network as an area that has ‘exceptional geological heritage’ that has scientific value, is rare, good for education or is particularly attractive.

    Opportunities for Indigenous communities exist in ‘smart tourism,’ which is the application of information and communications technologies to enhance tourism experiences and increase competitiveness, says Fennell. One example could be “personalized, interactive real-time tours,” he says.

    “The development of these new economies provides an opportunity to strengthen Indigenous tangible and intangible cultural and ecological heritage, through the telling of stories and celebration of historical connections with the Niagara region.

    Fennell says the research is meant to support the Niagara Regional Native Centre’s goal for Indigenous Peoples’ economic growth through principles and practices of sustainable development and is an “initial step” in developing a longer-term smart tourism project.

    STORY REPOSTED FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • Authors explore contested monuments at workshop led by Brock researcher

    FROM THE BROCK NEWS | by 

    In the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the spring of 2020, a global movement led to the toppling of hundreds of monuments commemorating historical figures and events.

    The trend fascinated Professor Michael Ripmeester in Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, who, along with Associate Professor Russell Johnston in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, has been studying memory and the ways in which people engage with the landscape since about 2003. Ripmeester says that while the act of removing or destroying monuments to affect public memory is nothing new, the wave of reckoning with landscapes that spread around the world last year was different.

    “People have been toppling monuments since ancient times, often related to regime changes — so, for example, statues of the former leader get destroyed and replaced with statues of the new leader,” says Ripmeester. “But over the last year, there has been a global recognition of the legacies of colonialism and racism, and that has sparked a massive reconsideration of monuments all over the globe.”

    To delve deeper into the movement, Ripmeester teamed up with colleague Matthew Rofe of the University of South Australia to collect essays that critically engaged with how landscapes are contested by individuals, groups and institutions for a future special issue of the journal Landscape Research.

    But when response to their call for papers quickly outsized the available space in the journal, Ripmeester and Rofe decided to explore the possibility of a book project.

    To that end, they hosted a virtual authors’ workshop in late July entitled “Global Iconoclasm: Contesting “Official” Mnemonic Landscapes.” Using funding from the Council for Research in the Social Sciences (CRISS) and Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute (SJRI) to support participants, they invited 10 authors to share their contributions and provide constructive feedback on each other’s essays.

    Some of the landscapes discussed during the workshop included monuments to fascism that remain standing in Italy, the contrast between monuments to British history and local usage of the heritage site at Victoria Falls in Africa and the Tsunami Museum in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, which doubles as an emergency shelter for future disasters while memorializing the 2004 tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people.

    “Something that came out in a number of papers is how we need to ensure that we don’t go back to what we did before,” says Ripmeester. “Moreover, the papers explore how we can help people understand structural and systemic racism in ways that both acknowledge the harm done and allow people to move forward with a sense of seeking justice for people who have been marginalized by collective memory.”

    He explains that monuments and other historic sites are places where memory is stored, just as memory is stored in archives, museums and school curricula. Their authoritative weight as well as the intertextuality of the narratives they represent tell a common story about identity — but historically, they are rarely inclusive.

    “Those with time and political, cultural, social and economic power determine what monuments are created, so when you look at a monument or you look at a historic site, you’re looking at a very specific manifestation of power,” he says. “Some groups have been completely left out of contributing to public identity, but we’re starting to see that change. For example, in Vancouver, Jim Deva Plaza was built and named in honour of one of the pioneers of LGBTQ rights in the city.”

    In addition to co-hosting the workshop, Ripmeester also presented a paper co-written with Johnston about the contested memorial to Pte. Alexander Watson at St. Catharines city hall.

    Ripmeester and Rofe were also recently awarded funding to support their research into a virtue-based approach to landscape management and their efforts to, as Ripmeester describes it, “build a network of scholars, artists and practitioners who have interests in thinking about collective memory, reconciliation and healing” — a theme that emerged in many of the workshop’s papers.

    He points to one author from Australia who wrote about a prison site where Indigenous men and boys had died and been buried in unmarked graves far from their home territories, violating their ancestral burial practices of being interred in one’s own country and a familiar landscape.

    “In trying to address this tragedy, the architects charged with designing the commemoration worked with Indigenous spokespersons and the communities of all the deceased to be respectful of not only local culture but also the cultures of the peoples to whom these men belonged,” Ripmeester says. “In the end, they built a site that includes a memorial garden that reflects the country. It’s a beautiful example of how Indigenous people and governments can work together to create a site that can lead to reconciliation through recognition of harm done and also toward overall healing.”

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • David Brown presents his new collaborative research project with Niagara Falls Museum and Library

    Faculty on video conference Call

    Dr. Dave Brown (top left) joined researchers across Brock University’s Faculty of Social Sciences for a virtual symposium.

    Dr. Dave Brown joined researchers across Brock University’s Faculty of Social Sciences on February 4th, 2021 for a virtual symposium where he shared about his research project, “Collaborative research proposal with Niagara Falls Museum and Library: Geolocation and Interpretation of Digital Historical and Heritage Assets in Niagara”. This project was one of many funded by the Special COVID-19-Related Dean’s Discretionary Fund.

    In spring, 2020, as the disruptive potential of the pandemic became clear, the Dean’s Office sought to support ongoing and innovative initiatives by members of the Faculty of Social Sciences. As activities across FOSS were reimagined and realigned to comply with the new COVID-19 context, the Special COVID-19-Related Dean’s Discretionary Fund was created. The online symposium showcased and discussed several of the projects that were supported through this fund, including Dr. Brown’s research.

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  • Brock researcher awarded Fulbright Canada Research Chair

    Kevin Turner, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, has been awarded a Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Arctic Studies at the University of Washington.

    Next winter, Turner — who is also cross-appointed to the Department of Earth Sciences, an Associate Member of the Department of Biology and a Co-Founder of the Water and Environment Lab at Brock — is set to spend six months teaching and researching the impacts of climate change on northern landscapes, lakes, rivers and wetlands.

    “As land and water adjust to changes in climate, we are presented with many questions of urgent global concern, particularly to northern stakeholders,” says Turner. “Changing landscape components, such as permafrost thaw, will influence global carbon cycles and climate-warming greenhouse gases. This is a far-reaching concern.”

    The Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Arctic Studies recognizes Associate Professor Kevin Turner’s ongoing work in mapping Arctic lake and river responses to landscape disturbances caused by the changing climate, as shown in this photo he captured of a landslide due to thawing permafrost.

    Turner notes that there are also local concerns, including how landscape disturbance such as fire, landslides and lake drainage can affect water quality, ecology, infrastructure and travel. To address some of these issues, he will use the research component of the Chair position to “take inventory of the landscape changes and identify how they influence the hydrology and chemistry of lakes, rivers and wetlands.”

    “The research aims to enhance our knowledge of climate change impacts and feedbacks,” says Turner, who has been conducting fieldwork in northern Yukon for 14 years. “We do this by identifying linkages among landscape changes and lake and river biogeochemistry across the ecologically and culturally important landscapes of the Yukon River Basin.”

    The Fulbright Canada Research Chair also involves teaching for the University of Washington’s minor in Arctic Studies. Turner plans to share with students both remote sensing and field-based techniques for collecting landscape data, as well as teaching students how to analyze, synthesize and share their findings with broad audiences.

    Turner says he was honoured to be selected for the Fulbright Canada Research Chair.

    “There are several colleagues I look up to who have received it in the past,” he says. “I am grateful that I have this opportunity to extend my research program and collaborations across borders.”

    Turner is attracted to the University of Washington for several reasons, not the least of which is the chance to work more closely with colleagues whom he has met during his affiliation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Arctic-Boreal Monitoring Experiment.

    He also notes that the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, where the position will be homed, is a “leader in advancing the understanding of and engagement in world issues.”

    “Several researchers and dignitaries from Yukon participate at their various forums, including Dana Tizya-Tramm, Chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (VGFN; Old Crow, Yukon), who discussed impacts of climate change on Indigenous communities and their resilience during a meeting of the World Affairs Council,” says Turner. “The priorities of my research program have been guided by the vast knowledge that the VGFN have of their traditional territory and the observations they have made over generations.”

    Turner also has personal reasons to be excited about relocating to Seattle for the duration of the position.

    “As a past varsity rower, I’m interested in seeing where that 1936 crew came from on their way to gold in Germany,” Turner admits. “I should also mention that I’m a big fan of several musical artists who came from Seattle — top of the list would be Jimi Hendrix.”

    However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may interfere with Turner’s plans. The position is set to begin in January 2021, but a few pieces need to fall into place before then.

    “We are currently living in a world of virtual-communications and we are unsure of how this will change by the end of the year,” says Turner, adding that international visas were suspended by the U.S. Department of State until the end of 2020. “Fulbright is currently looking into these issues and will provide updates as they learn more. I have hope that things will change for the better as the new year approaches.”

    Turner also points out that “climate change will not pause for us, and there is a lot within that realm that we need to learn.”

    “Arctic and subarctic regions are undergoing climate warming at a rate twice above the global average, and changes in precipitation patterns occurring — less snow and more rain, for example — are having major impacts on these landscapes,” says Turner. “The processes that cause permafrost degradation are often triggered by warm and wet conditions, and since about a third of the world’s carbon is locked in permafrost, this has complex ramifications for the rest of the world.”

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • Achievements of Geography and Tourism Studies professors and students recognized by FOSS

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate our professors and students who were recognized last week by Brock’s Faculty of Social Sciences at their annual Celebration of Excellence.

    • Dr. Julia Baird, Assistant Professor (Canada Research Chair, Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience)
    • Dr. David Butz, Professor (Brock SSHRC Institutional Grant)
    • Dr. Michael Pisaric, Professor (NSERC Discovery Grant)
    • Dr. Kevin Turner, Assistant Professor (Canada Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders Fund)
    • Dr. Ebru Ustundag, Associate Professor (Ontario Undergraduate Students Alliance Teaching Excellence Award)
    • Katelyn Pierce, MA in Geography student (Ontario Graduate Scholarship)
    • Connor Dingle, MA in Geography student (Best Major Research Paper)

    Read the full story on the Brock News.

    Graduate student award winners and their supervisors and mentors were among the honorees at the Faculty of Social Sciences Celebration of Excellence. From left, Dawn Zinga, Acting Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, Megan Earle and supervisor Gordon Hodson, Xiaomei Zhou and supervisor Catherine Mondloch, Christie Milliken accepting on behalf of Devon Coutts, Ebru Ustundag accepting on behalf of Connor Dingle, and Ingrid Makus, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.

     

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