Articles tagged with: geography

  • MA in Geography student receives 2020 Graduate Student Research Award

    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.

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  • Brock prof to talk climate change with Chief of Vuntut Gwitchin Government

    Residents of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Old Crow, Yukon are living on the frontline of climate change, witnessing dramatic landscape changes in the Arctic due to rising temperatures.

    Under the leadership of Dana Tizya-Tramm, Chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin Government, Yukon was the first Indigenous community to draft a climate change emergency declaration, Yeendoo Diinehdoo Ji’heezrit Nits’oo Ts’o’ Nan He’aa (or After Our Time, How Will the World Be?) in 2019.

    Brock University Associate Professor in Geography and Tourism Studies Kevin Turner is very familiar with the dramatic response of the landscape to climate change on the traditional territory of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation.

    Researching the area of Old Crow, Yukon, for over a decade, he continues to monitor landscape changes including landslides, vegetation change, lake drainage and fire. His research integrates chemical analyses of water and sediment to evaluate impacts of changing landscape features on lakes and rivers.

    Turner, who is Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Arctic Studies at the University of Washington, will be sitting down with Chief Tizya-Tramm for a “fireside chat” hosted by the World Affairs Council at a virtual public lecture Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 7 to 8 p.m.

    Turner and Tizya-Tramm will discuss emerging issues and priorities identified by the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in the face of global challenges.

    Diverse topics will include efforts to conserve the Porcupine Caribou Herd, adjustments during a pandemic, and pathways for unifying traditional insight of changing climate and landscapes with ongoing science-based monitoring approaches.

    “I’m looking forward to it, and in particular discussions of bringing together science-based research and traditional knowledge for the benefits of those most influenced by climate change,” says Turner.

    For more information and to register, click here.

    FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • Brock mourns the passing of first female faculty member

    Brock University was an important part of Josephine Meeker’s life for far longer than the three decades that she worked here.

    Believed to be the first woman ever hired as a Brock faculty member, Meeker started as an Assistant Professor of Geography on July 1, 1965 and retired 30 years later on June 30, 1996. In between those two dates, Meeker played a significant role in the development of the Department of Geography and the University as a whole. She was the first Director of Continuing Education, the first president of the Brock University Faculty Association and had tenures as a member of both the Board of Trustees and Senate, for which she served a term as Chair. She was also influential in the creation of the Women’s Studies program, and in 1995 received the Rosalind Blauer Award for improving the position of women at Brock.

    Josephine Meeker, who began her time at Brock as an Assistant Professor of Geography in 1965, is shown leading a class in 1968.

    Meeker, born in Hamilton in 1930, passed away Monday, Jan. 11 in St. Catharines at the age of 90.

    “Josephine brought a commitment to Brock, never ceasing to put Brock first,” said John Menzies, Professor of Earth Sciences and Geography. “Her commitment to students was incredible, not only in helping them in their studies, but also in their whole life here and afterward.”

    After graduating from McMaster University in 1953, she began a teaching career in Hamilton, where she was responsible for the United Nations Club, which led her to oversee multiple trips to Washington and New York. That led her to graduate studies at Indiana University and Columbia University in New York City, where she met her future husband Donald, and started working with the United Nations.

    After completing her graduate studies, she returned to Canada to start her academic career at Brock.

    Meeker’s niece, Wendy Nelson, said Brock held a very import place in her aunt’s heart.

    “My Aunt Jo cherished her role as ‘Professor Meeker’ and the chance to teach and mentor students at Brock University,” Nelson said. “She was so proud of the University and its development over time. Throughout her lifetime, her highest praise of individuals was reserved for graduates of Brock. In her eyes, a degree at Brock was Josephine’s ‘seal of approval.’”

    In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in memory of Meeker to either Brock University or McMaster University. A virtual celebration of life for students, colleagues, friends and family will take place Sunday, March 7 at 2 p.m. To participate, contact the family via Nelson at wnelson@rogers.com

    An online book of condolences can be found at turnerfamilyfuneralhome.ca

    Read the full obituary in The Globe and Mail here.

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • New book chapter explores the historical micro-geography of liberal urbanism in Toronto’s Brunswick Avenue neighbourhood

    Book cover Book Micro-geographies of the Western City, c.1750–1900Dr. Phillip Mackintosh has published a new chapter in the book Micro-Geographies of the City, 1750-1900 titled “Liberalism underfoot: A micro-geography of street paving and social dissolution – Brunswick Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, 1898–99”.

    This chapter defines liberal urbanism in the context of Toronto’s paving problem and the universally unpopular local improvements by-law, devised to rehabilitate and ultimately capitalise the modern city. It focuses on the particular case of Brunswick Avenue and how Brunswickers’ perturbations of choice dismantled community good will. The four blocks of Brunswick Avenue between College and Bloor underwent two phases of pavement installation from 1880 to 1900. The first stretch, from College to Ulster, laid a cedar block roadway in 1882, which had an expiry date of 1892. Property owners tolerated their spent cedar roadway for four years and then purchased an asphalt surface in 1896, built by contractor David Chalmers in October 1896. Curiously given the snooty reputation of the homeowners in that section of Brunswick the same neighbourhood wanted only a plank sidewalk on the west side of their new asphalt pavement despite the city engineer recommending brick.

    Read the chapter and full book here.

    Citation:

    Phillip Gordon Mackintosh (2021) Liberalism Underfoot: Paving and Social Paradox—Brunswick Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, 1898. In Alida Clemente, Jon Stobbart & Dag Lindstrom eds, Micro-Geographies of the City, 1750-1900. Research in Historical Geography Series, London: Routledge.

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  • Michael Ripmeester acknowledged for 25 years of service to Brock

    Slide showing names of individuals who have served 25 years at Brock

    The Department of Geography and tourism Studies would like to congratulate Dr. Michael Ripmeester on being recognized for his 25 years of service to Brock University today at the President’s Holiday Celebration. We are thankful for the countless contributions he has made to our Department, and to Brock as a whole.

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  • New book explores transnational pushback against LGBTQ rights

    Resistances against LGBTQ rights and equalities in different regions, or ‘heteroactivism,’ is the focus of a new book from recently retired Brock Professor Catherine Jean Nash.

    Nash, from Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, and co-author Kath Browne of the University College Dublin coined the term for the phenomenon featured in their book, Heteroactivism: Resisting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Rights and Equalities published by Zed Books earlier this fall.

    Nash and Browne define heteroactivism as “both an ideology and a set of practices” used by a broad range of groups and organizations who oppose sexual and gender rights by “asserting the supremacy of heterosexual marriage and normative gender roles as the foundations for the best society and the best place for raising children.”

    “In order to understand their arguments and why they are framed as they are, one has to understand the social, cultural and political contexts that heteroactivists find themselves in,” says Nash.

    Whereas “homophobia” is a term that implies hatred, heteroactivists often sidestep the label by arguing that they are not motivated by hatred or oppression, but rather by apparent attacks on their individual rights, such freedom of religion, freedom of speech or parental rights.

    Catherine Jean Nash of the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies is the author of a new book on heteroactivism.

    “With LGBTQ rights and equalities in place in Canada, the U.K. and Ireland, these groups have had to revise or reshape their strategies in order to find room to have their ideas and position heard,” says Nash.

    Nash and Browne also show in the book that heteroactivism is adapted based on geography. “Heteroactivist ideas ‘travel’ across national and international boundaries and are taken up, but often in specific, local ways,” Nash says.

    The book grew out of research first begun in 2012 and supported by two Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grants, following many years of progress in laws designed to enshrine the rights of members of the LGBTQ community.

    “When this research first started, we were curious about what arguments individuals and groups who opposed LGBTQ rights and equalities could make, given that these rights and equalities are the law of the land, so to speak,” says Nash. “We saw these groups as quite marginal given the law and policy changes and assumed this would be a small project.”

    However, as Nash began to take a closer look at groups objecting to LGBTQ legal rights, visibility in the media or gender-inclusive language, the research turned up an unexpected result.

    “We began to notice that for many reasons, including the advent of social media, these groups developed increasingly complex international connections,” says Nash, noting that individuals read and commented on each other’s blogs, published newsletters and attended conferences such as the World Congress of Families.

    “In many cases, these groups developed similar but specific arguments,” says Nash. “That is, they might have objections to, say, sex education curriculum in both Canada and the U.K. but have distinctive and specific concerns given the different history of these locations because, as we argue, geography matters.”

    Nash points to the strategy of the Conservative government of Ontario that debated repealing the 2015 sex education curriculum, arguing that “traditionally minded” minority groups objected to the LGBTQ content and that their views needed to be respected in a multicultural society. By contrast, when some Muslims parents in the U.K. protested the LGBTQ-inclusive sex ed curriculum as well as broader school programs aimed at diversity that included LGBT families, they had to show “that they understood that LGBT rights were U.K. values which they needed to embrace, so they framed their argument as one of ‘parental rights’ to determine what is ‘age appropriate,’” according to Nash.

    Even more significantly, Nash says that as a result of these adaptations, “LGBTQ opposition began to move from what had been the margins to the centre of political debates, particularly around trans rights, teaching sex ed, parental rights and freedom of speech.”

    This observation illuminated a need for careful study of the complex landscape of heteroactivism.

    “The purpose of the book is to set out in some detail the sorts of arguments heteroactivists make by looking at specific battles in Canada, the U.K. and Ireland,” says Nash. “We were primarily concerned when we started that academics in particular were not paying any attention to heteroactivist opposition or in developing counter arguments to heteroactivist claims, though academics in Europe and the U.S. are now increasingly focusing on the various types of resistances that are becoming more prominent.”

    Nash and Browne will now continue their research in this area, turning their attention to a multi-year project called “Beyond Opposition” funded by a more than $3-million European Research Council Grant awarded to Browne.

    “The project’s goal is to engage with individuals and groups who might be opposed to or are uncomfortable with social and political changes around LGB, Trans or abortion for example,” Nash explains. “These are people who, in their different geographies, might find themselves in difficulty — for example, workplaces may celebrate gay Pride while some individuals themselves don’t support it and yet to voice their opposition might cause them strife in the workplace.”

    Nash, who will act as co-researcher on the Canadian component of the project with a post-doctoral fellow, says that although this project is just starting out, “the ultimate goal is to try to work beyond the us/them binary” to better understand how we might accommodate differences.

    Anyone interested in the project can complete a questionnaire at beyondopposition.org.

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • Co-op grads reach next steps despite pandemic challenges

    As a storm of uncertainty churned around them, two recent Brock grads used skills from their co-op studies to stay on course.

    Michelle Pearce and Yunzhuo (Sebastian) Wang knew their enrolment in Brock’s Co-op Education program would give them a leg up when it came to pursuing their goals, but they could not have imagined how much that experience would help them stay on track in the economic uncertainty that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Wang, who graduated with his Master of Business Administration during Brock’s Fall Convocation on Friday, Oct. 16, came to the University with his sights set on a career in finance. After completing the in-class portion of his education, the Xi’an, China, native began a co-op work term at Meridian Credit Union as a financial planning and analysis analyst.

    Many hours of interview preparation, resumé review and further acclimation to the Canadian job market with co-op’s talent performance consultants helped Wang to secure the role.

    Brock student Michelle Pearce

    Michelle Pearce used her co-op studies to gain experience in the environmental job sector and figure out which graduate program to apply for.

    “I didn’t have any Canadian work experience, and co-op let me get my foot in the workplace door,” he said.

    When physical distancing regulations shut many businesses, Wang, 26, was able to continue his work remotely and ultimately earn a full-time job with the organization.

    “The work term was the perfect way for me to learn about Meridian and get to know people there,” he said. “My preparation and the lessons I received from the co-op team made it much more straightforward to secure a full-time role in my field at a time when it was tougher to do so.”

    In addition to the job he accepted, Wang also received offers from two other financial firms, a sign, he said, that co-op students are more in-demand due to their readiness to tackle and adapt to a variety of situations.

    While Wang focused on the financial industry, Pearce, of Guelph, concentrated on the environmental sector. The 22-year-old Geography graduate, who received her bachelor’s degree Friday, completed her work terms with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as a horticulture and forestry survey student.

    While there, she began to explore and interact with various environmental roles she saw as potential paths for her future.

    “Seeing the different jobs available helped me to realize how much I liked working in an environmental setting and to figure out which master’s program I would need to complete to make that possible,” Pearce said. She ultimately was accepted to Brock’s Master of Earth Sciences program.

    The pandemic affected Pierce’s final undergraduate work term, although she too said the lessons she learned from the University’s Co-op Education team are beneficial going forward.

    “The co-op team taught me how to prepare for and be flexible in the tasks and timelines I faced during my work term this summer, and how to comply with new distancing guidelines. It all helped me to settle more easily into my master’s studies this fall,” she said.

    Despite significant global change, the pair were happy to mark Brock’s Virtual Convocation and celebrate what they have achieved so far.

    “It was sad to not be there in person, but my mom and I watched together, and I am looking forward to joining with my classmates to celebrate when restrictions are lifted,” said Pearce.

    “I celebrated with a few friends, and I will share the stream with my family back home as well,” said Wang.

    As both grads return to the tasks and assignments of the fall, each emphasized the role co-op has played in their lives, especially during such a tumultuous few months.

    Co-op helped me to figure out where I wanted to go and how to get there even when the world was changing,” said Pearce.

    “The service from co-op is second to none,” said Wang. “I’m so relieved that I have been able to secure a full-time job in my field and I could not have done that without the support of the entire co-op team.”

    To learn more about Brock’s Co-op Education opportunities, visit the Co-op website.

    Story reposted from The Brock News

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  • Brock community mourns the death of John McNeil

    The Brock University community is mourning the loss of John McNeil, who passed away Sunday, Aug. 2.

    Born in Motherwell, Scotland, McNeil played soccer professionally for many years before he attended the University of Edinburgh, where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees before completing his PhD in Geography.

    An offer to teach at Brock in 1967 brought McNeil and his family to Canada. Brock, at the time, was the newest university in Canada, only opening its doors three years earlier. McNeil began his career at the University as an Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, on July 1, 1967. Six years later, he was promoted to Associate Professor, Department of Geography, and also served three appointments as Department Chair throughout his career.

    During his career, McNeil devoted helped reinforce Brock’s academic strengths during the University’s critical early years. Prior to retiring in 1998, his contributions included serving on Senate and the Board of Trustees, and also as Interim Dean of the School of Social Sciences.

    He was also instrumental in starting Brock’s soccer program, and was a part-time coach in an era when there were no coaching contracts and little funding to support a fledgling athletic program.

    A private family service will take place at a later date. Condolences and memories may be shared at pelhamfuneralhome.ca

    In lieu of flowers, a memorial tree can be planted in McNeil’s honour.

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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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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  • Brock students find alarming amounts of plastic in sand at St. Catharines beach

    A day at the beach doesn’t often involve lab work, but for a group of Brock University fourth-year Geography students tasked with assessing plastic waste on the shores of Lake Ontario last fall, it was just that.

    Back in October, students from Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Michael Pisaric’s GEOG 4P26 class visited Sunset Beach in north St. Catharines to measure the quantity of plastics turning up in the sand.

    Students measured out plots on the beach and sifted through the sand to collect as many tiny pieces of plastic as they could. They compiled their findings in lab reports for the end of the Fall Term.

    The results are now in, and they’re alarming.

    In one sample alone, one square metre of the beach yielded 665 individual pieces of plastic material.

    Pisaric called the amount and variety of plastics collected in the samples “striking.”

    “I think much of the discussion concerning plastics in the environment has been focused on the oceans and we are quickly understanding that plastic pollution is also an important issue closer to home in the Great Lakes,” said Pisaric, who is also Chair of the Geography and Tourism Studies Department. “This small study of a single beach on Lake Ontario clearly shows the prevalence of plastic pollution in our own backyard is a serious problem.”

    Emily Bowyer, a third-year student from Mississauga majoring in Geography and Biology who participated in the field collection, described it as “an opportunity to see the magnitude of the problems in the environment first-hand.”

    Another surprise to the team was the prevalence of nurdles — small plastic pellets used in the manufacture of many different goods.

    Investigation during the course uncovered a 2013 Toronto Star article that suggested nurdles may have made their way into Lake Ontario via the Humber River during a factory fire.

    “It is interesting to speculate that the prevalence of nurdles we noted in our samples may have originated on the other side of Lake Ontario,” Pisaric said.

    The professor plans to run a similar investigation when the course is offered again next fall to address some of the questions that cropped up in light of the results of the students’ labs.

    “Perhaps next time around I will have the students compare the beaches on Lake Ontario with a beach on Lake Erie,” he said. “Are similar quantities of plastics occurring in both areas? Do the types of plastic differ between the two lake environments?”

    Carolyn Finlayson, Experiential Education Co-ordinator for the Faculty of Social Sciences, attended the field trip and witnessed how interested casual beach visitors were in the students’ activities.

    “It’s a wonderful example of the larger impact experiential learning can have on our Niagara community and our students,” she said. “By working at the beach that day for their lab, students were able to start conversations with beachgoers about their use of plastic and its impact on the shorelines they enjoy.”

    Cara Krezek, Director of Co-op, Career and Experiential Education, said these were exactly the types of courses the University envisioned when it committed to expanding experiential learning so all students had access to meaningful experiences in their programs.

    “Courses like these take our students into a real-world setting and allow them to apply their knowledge, learn new skills and reflect on how they can take these experiences forward to a future career path,” Krezek said. “I am certain these students will never forget their findings and it will change the way they interact with plastics.”

    Emily Bowyer, Pravin Rajayagam and Dakota Schnierle, students in a fourth-year Geography course at Brock, sift through sand on Sunset Beach in St. Catharines to find out how many plastics are washing up on the beach.

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

    Other Media Coverage

    Brock students find alarming amounts of plastic at St. Catharines beach: Extensive media coverage was given to an experiential learning exercise led by Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Michael Pisaric that saw Brock students uncover more than 2,000 pieces of plastic on St. Catharines’ Sunset Beach. The story was featured in the St. Catharines Standard, CBC, CHCH, Newstalk 610 CKTB and Coastal News Today.

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