Articles tagged with: Human Geography

  • Micheal Ripmeester featured on The Brown Homestead Podcast

    Dr. Mike Ripmeester was recently interviewed on The Brown Homestead podcast to discuss the controversial statue of Private Alexander Watson that sits in front of St. Catharines City Hall.

    Episode 5: What to do about Watson

    In this episode, we dig into the complicated question of what to do about the controversial statue to Private Alexander Watson in front of St. Catharines City Hall. Brock University professors Michael Ripmeester (GeoTour) and Russell Johnston examine the complex history of the monument and walk us through ways that its challenging narrative offers opportunities for education and reconciliation.

    Listen here.

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  • Five Brock courses with a focus on climate change

    As the COP26 climate summit continues with world leaders talking climate change in Glasgow, Scotland, the topic is also at the forefront of both research and courses at Brock University. Climate change and its effects is discussed in various Faculties and from a variety of angles at Brock. Here are five examples of how students are learning about climate change.

    Contemporary Environmental Issues

    ENSU 3P90 is an Environmental Sustainability capstone course for Brock students who share an interest in sustainability and a concern for improving the relationships between people and the planet. Students engage in a wide range of sustainability issues, including climate change and biodiversity loss as well as displacement and environmental racism.

    The course’s instructor, Jessica Blythe, Assistant Professor in Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, says it resonates with students who are seeking to make a positive change in the world.

    “Many members of Gen Z feel overwhelmed by the state of the world and are responding by devoting their professional careers to finding solutions,” she said. “This course is designed to help students develop core competencies in sustainability science, including systems thinking, anticipatory and strategic skills, so they can thrive in sustainability careers and contribute to addressing the climate crisis.”

    Watershed Study and Assessment

    ERSC 4P31 is an Earth Sciences course that looks at the environmental health of two branches of the upper Twelve Mile Creek. Students in the course measure water quality parameters under different ambient conditions. They then get to compare their results with historical ones obtained in 1978 and 2001.

    Professor of Earth Sciences and course instructor Uwe Brand said the exercise encourages participants to re-evaluate their perceptions of clean water and its availability.

    “The course should show them that water is not only important to the fauna of the creek but also speaks to our water security,” he said. “In light of increasing CO2 emissions and global warming, don’t take anything for granted, including access to ‘clean’ water.”

    Environmental Economics

    ECON/TOUR 2P28 is a course that provides Economic perspectives on environmental and natural resource issues. Economics Instructor Geoff Black, who leads the course, said it is often an eye-opening experience for students.

    “We look at ways in which this shortcoming can be modelled and investigate policy that can bridge the gap,” he said. “It’s important for students to understand the market failures that occur regarding both common resources and public goods.”

    Ecocinema: History, Theory, Practices

    COMM/FILM/PCUL 4P58 is a Film Studies course that explores the proliferation of both fiction and nonfiction films that deal with the climate change, species extinction, resource extraction and other industrial practices.

    Course instructor Christie Milliken, Associate Professor of Film Studies, said the topic of climate change has been more prevalent in recent years, but it was also common in science fiction films in earlier decades.

    “The course invites students to consider the various rhetorical strategies deployed across a range of films as they invite us to rethink our relationship to the planet,” she said.

    Climate Crisis

    GEOG/ERSC 2P08 is a Geography course that provides an Introduction to the Earth’s atmosphere and the natural and anthropogenic drivers that change the Earth’s climate system. These include the Greenhouse effect, human activities that alter the climate system, climate models, climates of the past and projections of future climate.

     

    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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  • How can transit play a part in Canada’s pandemic recovery?

    Article reposted from TVO  |  By: Justin Chandler

    From left to right: Hamilton Street Railway New Flyer C40LF bus (Adam E. Moreira/Wikipedia); GO trains (tirc83/iStock); TTC streetcar (BalkansCat/iStock).

    HAMILTON — During the election campaign, there’s been plenty of discussion about how Canada can recover from COVID-19, and some experts want to make sure that one topic in particular isn’t left out: transit.

    “Transit has come to be recognized as an important aspect of making major cities run better and as fundamental to issues of equity,” says Drew Fagan, professor at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. “Building back better — to use what’s become a slogan — involves transit, and you’ve seen governments recognize that,” he adds, pointing to greater federal funding and provincial and federal support for transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. “I think part of the issue is not just announcing the projects but ensuring that you get best use of that transit by developing intelligently along the lines.”

    So what would better post-pandemic transit look like, and how are the federal parties proposing to support it?

    What is a transit-oriented community?

    Building what people need along transit lines results in what researchers call “transit-oriented communities.” A recent policy paper Fagan cowrote with University of Toronto professor Matti Siemiatycki states that such communities “co-locate housing, jobs, public amenities and social services near high quality public transit. This maximizes the public benefits that come from major investments in public transit.”

    Experts say these sorts of communities can improve the quality of life for drivers and non-drivers alike. “The more people live within a fairly small activity space within their day-to-day lives, the more potentially useful transit could be to them to get around without a car,” says Chris Fullerton, a geography professor at Brock University. Fullerton notes that, while driving tends to be faster than public transit for longer trips — due to transfers, for example — public-transit travel times are often comparable for short distances. That means transit-oriented communities may also lure people out of their cars, something experts say should be a priority given that the pandemic seems to have led more people to drive.

    Public transit is about more than getting commuters from point A to B. “Public transit is a vital tool to promote our shared goals for social inclusion, public health, the climate emergency, and economic opportunity,” reads the Keep Transit Moving website. The national advocacy group points to a 2014 report by medical officers of health in the GTHA that found investments in transit and changes in land use (such as building transit-oriented communities) could increase physical activity and reduce air pollution, thereby preventing illness and deaths.

    “A major motivation we have is reducing greenhouse-gas emissions,” says Ian Borsuk, coordinator with Environment Hamilton and member of the Hamilton Transit Riders’ Union steering committee. According to Fullerton, reducing car travel and transitioning transit fleets to renewable energy are both effective approaches to this. “If you can develop a fleet of electric buses, and then you’ve got those filled with passengers that take 20, 30, or 40 cars off the road, the impacts, as far as emissions, will be incredible,” he says. Although replacing vehicles comes at a significant cost, he notes, upper levels of government can provide funding to help.

    How COVID-19 has affected transit

    The University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute published survey data in August suggesting that, during the second surge of COVID-19 in Toronto and Vancouver, commuting patterns were changing. About 32 per cent of respondents said they would ride transit less following the pandemic, while 56 per cent said they wouldn’t ride less, and 12 per cent were unsure; 58 per cent of respondents agreed that the pandemic made owning a car more appealing, and 26 per cent reported having looked into buying one. Among those surveyed, there was a 14 per cent increase in vehicle ownership between May 2020 and March 2021.

    Matthew Palm, lead author of the report and research coordinator with U of T Scarborough’s Mobilizing Justice Project, which studies inequities in Canadian transportation systems, is concerned about how such numbers may shape future policy: “My biggest fear from a social-policy standpoint is that people are going to overreact and just let the transit systems go without considering that there are certain people for whom transit is how they get their groceries.” He also notes that the phenomenon of the pandemic turning riders into drivers may be overstated. Based on other research and on his own analysis of the survey, Palm says a good portion of those turning away from transit seem to be young people and recent immigrants who might have bought cars anyway. Regardless, he says, the focus should be on the people who never stopped taking public transit.

    According to the 2021 Vital Signs report by the Hamilton Community Foundation, Hamilton public-transit ridership fell 46 per cent to 11.7 million rides in 2020, compared to 21.6 million rides in 2019. There were similar decreases in Kitchener-Waterloo, York Region, and Mississauga. In Toronto and Ottawa, ridership initially fell 90 per cent but had returned to 30 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by November 2020.

    Hamilton’s comparatively low decrease shows just how many people in the city need the transit system, says Borsuk: “Without that service, they wouldn’t have been able to get to their jobs.” Borsuk says he and other transit advocates have worried that the pandemic will result in less support for transit, so in the early stages of the public-health crisis, they formed the national Keep Transit Moving Coalition. “If you have municipalities needing to make cuts to service because of budgetary shortfalls and [lower] fare revenue, it’s going to make it harder to keep people on transit — but also harder for them to adopt it as a new form of transportation.”

    What can the federal government do?

    Fagan says that although it’s not immediately responsible for transit, the federal government is well-positioned to provide guidance and funding. The question for the feds is just how many strings they want to attach, he says: “The federal government is spending a lot more on infrastructure, and one can argue it has been reticent to apply policy expectations to its expenditures over time.”

    In Hamilton, for example, the federal and provincial governments recently announced $370 million in funding for the bus system — on the condition that Hamilton buy new buses that run on natural gas instead of diesel and that money go to building a bus barn to charge and store electric buses. (Director of Transit Maureen Cosyn Heath tells TVO.org via email that the city plans to replace its diesel buses  —currently 49 per cent of its fleet — with natural-gas buses over the next four years but did not say when the Hamilton Street Railway might start using electric buses.)

    Keep Transit Moving is calling on federal parties to commit to, among other things, providing permanent operational funding and reliable capital funding for transit and establishing a national intercity and highway-bus service plan. (Capital funding is money that builds or acquires new things, such as bus shelters and vehicles, whereas operating funding covers day-to-day expenses including fuel, maintenance, and salaries.)

    Election-platform points, such as the Conservative plan to link housing and transit funding, show parties are willing to take a more hands-on approach, Fagan adds: “I think all parties are thinking to some extent on these lines. Issues of equity, issues of climate, issues of accessibility, all the kinds of issues that make a city, especially the GTHA, a global-scale city that operates effectively.”

    Borsuk says that’s a good thing. “We definitely need to see the federal government — if they’re going to be providing these investments — flex their muscles and say, ‘If we are going to be giving you this money, we need to see X number of affordable housing units built.’” And, he says, the coalition also has accessibility-related demands: “What we want to see is an accessibility audit of all bus, train, and streetcar stations. We want to see accessibility planning put in; we want to see more funding go to local transit agencies to improve and expand paratransit service where it’s necessary.”

    How are Canada’s political parties responding?

    TVO.org asked the Liberal, Conservative, NDP, and Green campaigns if transit is part of their plans for pandemic recovery, and if so, how.

    Tim Grant, the Green Party of Canada’s municipal-affairs and transportation critic, says that, if elected, the party would invest in transit services and infrastructure, electrify buses, and improve intercity transit. “We should not be providing funding to cities for rapid transit projects unless those cities have developed plans to put enough housing density around each station, so that the new lines can pay for themselves within a few years,” he tells TVO.org via email.

    The NDP campaign did not respond to a request for comment. In its platform, however, the party promises it would expand public transit within and between communities and prioritize funding for low-carbon projects — “with the goal of electrifying transit and other municipal fleets by 2030.” It would also help provinces and municipalities create fare-free transit, if asked.

    A spokesperson for the Conservative Party of Canada did not answer TVO.org’s question but pointed to promises to fund and build public transit. The party platform says that a Conservative government would “require municipalities receiving federal funding for public transit to increase density near the funded transit.”

    A Liberal Party of Canada spokesperson sent TVO.org a statement touting the government’s recent transit investments and the creation of a permanent public-transit fund slated to begin in 2026. In Ontario, the statement says, the Liberal government would continue investments in the Toronto area. The party platform promises support for rural transit, zero-emission buses, and intercity transit.

    Moving forward

    Palm says that people who depend on transit need to be the focal point going forward. “Building a transit system in tandem with neighborhoods — with the land-use to support those folks — can also get the choice riders back, particularly the choice riders who prefer those urban environments.” “Choice riders” are those who can get around without public transit but may choose to use it. When more commuters — including choice riders — use a transit system, service generally improves, he says.

    While the pandemic has presented many challenges, it has also changed the conversations around public transit for the better, says Palm: “There was just this conceptual paradigm shift in a lot of people’s thinking about what transit really is at the most basic level, because people were asked to only use it if they really need it. What we found is there are a significant number of people who truly need it.”

    Ontario Hubs are made possible by the Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust & Goldie Feldman.

    Article reposted from TVO | By: Justin Chandler

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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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  • 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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  • New book: The Geographies of Digital Sexuality

    In May, Drs. Catherine Jean Nash and Andrew Gorman-Murray (editors) published a new book titled The Geographies of Digital Sexuality.

    Book cover The Geographies of Digital Sexuality

    About the Book
    This edited book engages with the rapidly emerging field of the geographies of digital sexualities, that is, the interlinkages between sexual lives, material and virtual geographies and digital practices. Modern life is increasingly characterised by our integrated engagement in digital/material landscapes activities and our intimate life online can no longer be conceptualised as discrete from ‘real life.’ Our digital lives are experienced as a material embeddedness in the spaces of everyday life marking the complex integration of real and digital geographies. Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than in the ways that our social and sexual practices such as dating or casual sex are bound up online and online geographies and in many cases constitute specific sexuality-based communities crossing the digital/material divide. The aim of this collection is to explore the complexities of these newly constituted and interwoven sexual and gender landscapes through empirical, theoretical and conceptual engagements through wide-ranging, innovative and original research in a new and quickly moving field.

    Citation: Nash, C.J., and Gorman-Murray, A. (Eds.) 2019. The Geographies of Digital Sexuality. Palgrave Macmillian, Singapore. DOI 978-981-13-6876-9

    Read more.

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  • Geography graduate student wins best paper award

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate our Master of Arts in Geography student, Aaron Nartey, on receiving a Faculty of Social Sciences Student Research Award for his proposed Major Research Paper project titled “Return Migration of Ghanaian Immigrants”.

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  • First year Geography students participate in Blanket Exercise

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to thank Archdeacon and Haudenosaunee Elder, Valerie Kerr, who came in to facilitate a Blanket Exercise Workshop with our students in GEOG 1F90 (Intro to Human Geography class) on March 20, 2019.

    The KAIROS Blanket Exercise program is a unique, participatory history lesson – developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers and educators – that fosters truth, understanding, respect and reconciliation among Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. Learn more at https://www.kairosblanketexercise.org/.

     

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  • Brock-led poverty research project heads into second year

    A partnership between the Niagara Region and Brock announced last May is examining the Niagara Prosperity Initiative (NPI) and its impact on Niagara communities.

    Lori Watson, Director, Social Assistance and Employment Opportunities for Niagara Region, said the research project “will help the Niagara Region develop an updated report outlining the state of poverty in Niagara — an analysis on the impacts, outcomes and offer recommendations on best practices moving forward.”

    A Brock-led research project looking into poverty in Niagara is headed into its second year. Pictured are some of the researchers and students involved in the project.

    The three-year research project was funded through a nearly half-million-dollar grant from the Government of Ontario’s Local Poverty Reduction Fund and will culminate in a final report to be released in 2021.

    The NPI provides $1.5 million annually to support poverty reduction and prevention activities throughout the region. In its 10 years of operation, the NPI has funded some 365 projects delivered by 85 local agencies to help more than 100,000 individuals and families experiencing poverty across Niagara.

    Brock’s transdisciplinary research team is led by Jeff Boggs (Geography and Tourism Studies), Michael Busseri (Psychology), Darlene Ciuffetelli Parker (Teacher Education), Joyce Engel (Nursing), Tiffany Gallagher (Teacher Education), Kevin Gosine (Sociology), Felice Martinello (Economics), Dawn Prentice (Nursing) and Dennis Soron (Sociology).

    In 2018, the NPI evaluation team:

    • Formulated a communications strategy
    • Formed a community advisory team
    • Reviewed previous research, statistics and the landscape of poverty and poverty reduction efforts in Niagara and comparable regions
    • Interviewed people who were instrumental to the development and management of NPI, with a focus on NPI’s history and objectives
    • Spoke with NPI-funded project leads with a focus on the impact of NPI funding
    • Created a comparison of actual and expected outputs
    • Analyzed testimonials from NPI service users

    In 2019, the NPI evaluation team is aiming to:

    • Form a lived experience advisory group
    • Continue speaking with NPI-funded project leads
    • Measure the impact of NPI assistance on service user well-being
    • Survey a representative sample of Niagara residents affected by poverty
    • Evaluate NPI-funded literacy projects
    • Develop inclusive photo-reporting practices
    • Assess service user feedback mechanisms
    • Review the NPI request for proposal and review process

    The NPI evaluation team received contributions and support from a number of places, including Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute, which initiated the partnership and facilitated the grant application process, the Faculty of Social Sciences and the wider Brock community.

    Members of the Community Advisory Team, including Catherine Livingston, Diane Corkum, Jackie Van Lankveld and Jane LaVacca, reviewed and provided feedback on the project plan. Fourth-year Sociology students conducted 25 interviews with NPI-funded project leads. The Information and Analytics Team, a business unit with Niagara Region’s Information Technology Solutions division, identified and facilitated access to poverty-related data collected by the Niagara Region and its partners.

    For more information, visit the NPI Evaluation project website at brocku.ca/npi-evaluation.

    Story reposted from The Brock News.

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