Articles tagged with: research

  • 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.

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  • New research looks at how a new water paradigm is defined and used in literature

    In a new paper titled “The emerging scientific water paradigm: Precursors, hallmarks, and trajectories“, ESRC/GeoTour prof Dr. Julia Baird and co-authors explore how two interpretations of a new water paradigm are defined and used, and overlap in the literature.

    Abstract

    Increasing scholarship has focused on a shift in scientific water paradigm in the 21st century from an understanding of water systems as stationary, predictable and command‐and‐control as appropriate governance to an understanding of them as complex, dynamic, and uncertain. This shift has been characterized in several ways. We focused on two prominent characterizations: as a “new water paradigm” and as “water resilience.” We identified the defining hallmarks of each, the “precursor” scholarship upon which these Defining Works build, and how the Defining Works have been advanced with “Subsequent Works” that cite them. We used bibliometric data to analyze the three bodies of literature and inductive coding to identify the hallmarks of the new water paradigm and water resilience from Defining Works. Four categories of hallmarks were identified that describe the emerging scientific water paradigm: complex adaptive systems orientation; governance and management configurations, which are inclusive, integrative, adaptive; governance and management actions that emphasize linkages between social and ecological systems and imperative of sustainability; and, attributes of diversity, redundancy and openness. There was insufficient evidence in fields of research, author country, and publishing journals to confirm that the emerging scientific water paradigm has been conceptualized in two distinct ways. Despite the degree of similarity between the two conceptualizations, the literature is strongly oriented toward one or the other. We suggest consilience between these two conceptualizations and scholars working with them to advance collective understanding of governance and management in light of our current understanding of water systems.

    Reference

    Baird, J., Plummer, R., Dale, G., Kapeller, B., Mallette, A., Feist, A., and Kataoka A. (2020). The emerging scientific water paradigm: Precursors, hallmarks, and trajectories. WIREs Water. Online: https://doi.org/10.1002/wat2.1489

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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.”

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  • Brock researcher receives national award for work on water governance

    Julia Baird is the recipient of the 2020 Water’s Next Award in the category of “People: Academic Leader.” The award was announced in June at the annual Canadian Water Summit, which was held virtually earlier this month.

    Baird, Assistant Professor in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) and the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, is a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience. She was also nominated for the award in 2019.

    Baird, who runs the Water Resilience Lab out of ESRC, was grateful for the honour.

    “I especially appreciate this award because the Canadian Water Summit is a gathering place for Canadians working on water issues — a diverse group including government, academics, non-government organizations and industry,” Baird says. “It signals to me that my work is relevant beyond academia, and that is really important to me as a sustainability scientist.”

    Baird’s extensive research on the governance of water resources was recently in the spotlight during the virtual launch of a new partnership between World Wildlife Fund-Canada and the ESRC that will examine the ways in which flood planning is taking place around the St. John River Basin, located in New Brunswick, Québec and the American state of Maine.

    “The research is exciting because it will make important contributions to scholarship on watershed-based governance and climate change adaptation planning, and it also has immediate relevance for those in the basin,” says Baird.

    But, as Baird points out, the launch webinar also highlighted the pressing issue of a lack of co-ordination amongst stakeholders — an issue she believes requires urgent attention.

    “Water governance and specific issues like flood planning are not usually highly co-ordinated across administrative boundaries, but water doesn’t respect our administrative boundaries,” Baird says. “There are benefits, including efficiency, innovation and greater effectiveness, if decision-making and direction-setting occur in co-ordination or collaboration with others in the watershed.”

    Alongside her work on the St. John River Basin, Baird is engaged in another endeavour with colleagues from Brock to examine how and why people think about resilience when it comes to water resources.

    Early findings have shown that it is possible to “predict the extent to which individuals align with a resilience perspective based on some key differences, including age, empathy, openness and optimism about the future.”

    “This builds our understanding of how close — or far — those in society are to agreeing with and believing in the importance of governing using resilience principles, such as emphasizing broad participation in governance, supporting learning and experimentation, and recognizing the importance of connectivity,” says Baird, noting that although this work began as a single project, it is expanding into its own program of research.

    “The argument is that we need a resilience perspective because it acknowledges how the world works — its complexity, its dynamic nature, and its uncertainty,” Baird explains. “When we view the world with this lens, new possibilities for how we govern it open up.”

    Baird says that the work will soon move toward using the initial findings of the project to influence mindsets more broadly to encourage a resilience perspective.

    “Shifting mindsets is one of the most powerful levers we have for change,” says Baird. “I think there’s a lot of potential for positive action as a result of this research.”

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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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  • Studying sustainable transportation in Sweden

    Bus in bus terminal in Gothenburg, Sweden

    Dr. Christopher Fullerton spent part of March in Sweden exploring experiences with electric public transit buses. Here are a few photos from his trip and a reflection from Dr. Fullerton’s second day in Gothenburg:

    “I spent the afternoon at the Lindholmen Science Park learning about Gothenburg’s ElectriCity project, where they are piloting the use of electric buses on two routes and conducting research about all aspects of electric buses. These pictures show their innovative indoor bus stop. It’s a climate controlled building where the bus pulls in at the end of the route, the doors close, the bus’ battery charges in nine minutes, and then the doors open for the bus to leave on its next run. In the meantime, you can wait for the bus in a heated or air conditioned setting, read a book at their mini library or sit in some cool hanging chairs, all the while listening to a recording of birds chirping! When one bus leaves, the next one to arrive pulls in and does the same! Great idea for cities with cold or hot climates, and something that’s much easier to do with quiet and emission-free electric buses.”

    Bridge over river in Gothenburg, Sweden

    Bus terminal waiting room with bookshelves and seating in Gothenburg, Sweden

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  • Student researcher explores future of electric buses in Canada

    REPOSTED FROM THE BROCK NEWS
    FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2019 | by 

    It’s a simple, logical way to cut down on air and noise pollution.

    Electric buses don’t emit carbon or use fossil fuels, are low cost to maintain and, by the silent way they operate, reduce noise pollution compared to conventional buses.

    But replacing current buses with electricity-powered ones is easier said than done, says master’s student Tasnuva Afreen.

    Afreen recently wrapped up an eight-month internship with the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) to collect and interpret information related to transit authorities’ transition to electric buses.

    “Now we’re trying to connect the dots,” says Afreen, who is in Brock’s Sustainability Science and Society program. “We hope to bring out what Canadians think of electric buses and identify the main barriers to bringing electric buses to transit authorities’ fleets.”

    Afreen, Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Christopher Fullertonand CUTRIC created the internship through the not-for-profit national research organization Mitacs.

    Mitacs partners with academics, private industry and governments to conduct research and training programs related to industrial and social innovation. The organization funds a number of research projects at Brock University.

    During her internship, Afreen organized consultations with industry representatives, transit authorities, government officials and academic researchers.

    She and her CUTRIC colleagues asked participants a series of questions about transit authorities’ experiences and challenges of experimenting with electric buses and the knowledge they need to acquire and integrate hydrogen fuel cell vehicles into their fleets.

    Afreen also asked transit riders to share their opinions on and experiences with electric buses.

    She then transcribed the consultation sessions and analyzed the comments. Afreen also gathered information on how to test electric buses in nine municipalities that expressed interest in becoming demonstration trial sites.

    Although she and Fullerton are still analyzing the data, Afreen says her preliminary results show that there’s much interest in putting electric buses on the road.

    But there are a number of barriers to overcome, she says.

    “Municipalities have to redesign their infrastructure to provide electric lines so that buses can recharge very quickly,” says Afreen. “Also, the upfront expense is huge — a lot of transit agencies don’t have the money in their pocket to go for this.”

    Fullerton, Afreen’s supervisor, says the research she conducted will lay the groundwork for CUTRIC’s efforts to encourage the adoption of electric buses across Canada.

    “While it has already demonstrated clear environmental, social and economic benefits in other parts of the world, electric bus technology is still relatively new and adopting it represents a major funding commitment,” says Fullerton.

    “Public transit agencies and other stakeholders, such as the various levels of government that provide subsidies for transit infrastructure, want to make sure that the technology is reliable and that their money is well spent,” he says, adding that Afreen’s work helps identify stakeholders’ concerns and information needs.

    Afreen will share her Mitacs-supported internship experience at Brock’s Shift Conference Tuesday, April 30 and the Launch Forum Wednesday, May 1. Mitacs Director Rebecca Bourque and Office of Research Services staff will be join Afreen at Launch in the 10 to 11:30 a.m. session in the Cairns Atrium to explore how faculty member and graduate student teams can navigate Mitacs internship opportunities.

    “Mitacs internships offer graduate students a valuable experience working with industry or community organizations,” says Industry Liaison and Partnership Officer Iva Bruhova. “It is a chance to apply their research skills and gain employment-ready skills.”

    In addition to the Mitacs session, the Launch event offers two other sessions on how faculty and staff can support graduate students through designing individual development plans.

    For more information, contact ibruhova@brocku.ca or kperry@brocku.ca

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  • Geography alumnus publishes paper in Tourism Planning and Development

    Read Dr. Pius Siakwah’s (Brock MA GEOG ’12) new paper titled “Tourism Governance and Attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa” online in Tourism Planning and Development.

    Abstract: Inclusiveness that improves tourism governance is significant for development if benefits from tourism are distributed equitably. Declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism and adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have seemingly brought tourism to the forefront of development even where the SDGs have limited tourism focus. This paper examines how tourism governance is poorly applied in Africa. It interrogates the challenges of integrating tourism governance, mining, and conservation within the SDGs framework in Africa. Sustainable tourism governance frameworks have not comprehensively inculcated trust, justice, social capital, power, and participation. Using mining and conservation in South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively, it analyses how mining affects sustainability, as actors in tourism are unable to conserve and protect tourism sites. Achieving the SDGs requires collaboration between international actors, governments, the private sector, and locals in an inclusive governance based on justice, inclusion trust and equitable power relations.

    Full reference: Pius Siakwah, Regis Musavengane & Llewellyn Leonard (2019) Tourism Governance and Attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa,Tourism Planning & Development, DOI: 10.1080/21568316.2019.1600160

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  • What is the future for electric buses in Canada?

    In this video, Dr. Christopher Fullerton discusses the future of electric buses in Canada.

     

     

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  • Student research recognized at 3MT final and Jack M. Miller award ceremony

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