Articles tagged with: tourism

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

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

    Flight PK404

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    STORY FROM THE HIGH ASIA HERALD

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  • New International Student Ambassadors ready to represent Brock

    FROM THE BROCK NEWS | by 

    As the Brock community readies for the start of the Fall Term, 10 students from around the globe are preparing to share their love of Brock University with the world.

    Each year, the University selects up to 10 recipients for the International Student Ambassador Award, with each student exemplifying the mission and vision of Brock University due to their academic achievements and engagement both on and off campus.

    Brock’s 2021-22 International Student Ambassadors include Laveena Agnani from the United Arab Emirates, Sharifa Sadika Ahmed from Bangladesh, Chimerem Amiaka from Nigeria, Mishrka Bucha from Mauritius, Hamed Karagahi from Iran, Sumin Oh from South Korea, Ximena Paredes from Mexico, Arshdeep Singh from India and Faryal Zehra from Pakistan.

    Aiden Luu from Vietnam, who previously served two years as an ambassador, will also join the group as a mentor. Luu will take on added leadership responsibilities throughout the year and guide new ambassadors through the ins and outs of their new role.

    The ambassadors work with Brock International throughout the year by interacting with prospective and current international students. Through their involvement in various events, ambassadors share details about why they chose Brock, living in Niagara and how studying at Brock is helping them prepare for their careers.

    Despite all the ambassadors making Niagara their new home away from home, participation in many of this year’s activities will continue to be virtual due to ongoing public health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Last year, our ambassadors demonstrated the impact they can have on international recruitment and student services despite being virtual,” said Camille Rutherford, Vice-Provost, Strategic Partnerships and International. “I look forward to seeing them share their passion for Brock and connect with students from around the world.”

    Biographies of each International Student Ambassador are available here, with details of each member of the group also shared on Brock International’s Instagram page and newly launched TikTok account over the next two weeks.

    Recipients of the International Student Ambassador Award have their international tuition fees reduced to the domestic rate.

    Students interested in sharing their passion for Brock with the world can apply in early 2022 to be an International Student Ambassador for the 2022-23 academic year. Information about the next round of applications will be posted online as it becomes available.

    This year’s ambassadors include:

    Laveena Agnani, United Arab Emirates
    Thanks in part to a strong partnership between the two institutions, Laveena Agnani transferred from the Canadian University Dubai to Brock University during her second year. The fourth-year Business Administration student had nearly all her credits transferred and received immense support from Brock faculty and staff. From the support systems available to the campus beauty, Brock “offers everything I want to experience in a university,” Agnani says.

    Sharifa Sadika Ahmed, Bangladesh
    Entering her fourth year in Accounting, Sharifa Sadika Ahmed brings an abundance of experience to this year’s ambassador group. She has been a Goodman Ambassador at the Goodman School of Business, a University Liaison at the Brock University Accounting Conference (BUAC) and President of the Brock Bangladeshi Students’ Association. After completing her undergraduate degree, Ahmed plans to pursue her CPA designation and work as an auditor, eventually transitioning to consultancy and/or advisory.  

    Chimerem Amiaka, Nigeria
    This year’s sole master’s student, Chimerem Amiaka, is entering her second year of graduate studies in Kinesiology. She chose Brock University because of the institution’s devotion to experiential education, which allows students to apply theoretical learning from the classroom to the real world. Preparing for the workforce through Brock’s experiential opportunities, Amiaka plans to pursue a career in physiotherapy after graduation.

    Mishrka Bucha, Mauritius
    As a first-year Tourism and Environment student, Mishrka Bucha loves Brock’s safe, fun and vibrant atmosphere, which will aid in her academic and social growth. One of the main reasons she chose Brock was its location. The University’s main campus is in Niagara, a region highly regarded for its tourism, attractions and hotels. An aspiring hotel manager, Bucha believes she will benefit from Brock’s proximity to a world-renowned tourism industry. Ultimately, she hopes to give back to the Brock community by earning her PhD, becoming a professor and teaching at Brock University.

    Hamed Karagahi, Iran
    Returning as an ambassador for a second straight year, Hamed Karagahi has jumped at the opportunity to get involved during his early years at Brock University. The third-year Public Health student is a member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights, Equity and Decolonization, a second-place finalist for the IDeA National Competition, and a Peer Assistant for Brock’s Human Rights and Equity office (HRE).

    “My great work environment at Brock University is one of the things that I will always cherish,” said Karagahi. “I recommend any future Brock student to try to work within the University and on campus to fully experience everything that Brock has to offer.”

    Driven by his work experience with HRE, he also recommends international students learn about Canadian laws and policies that protect them and their rights.

    Sumin Oh, South Korea
    Accounting Co-op student Sumin Oh has not hesitated to become an active member of the Brock community. Although she’s entering her first year, she has already gotten involved with the Goodman Business Students’ Association as Director of Student Engagement. Oh is a firm believer in how extracurricular activities elevate the experience of international students. Involved in more than 15 extracurricular activities during her four high school years in Canada, she met many unique individuals, expanded her English language skills and learned about Canadian culture.

    Now at Brock University, Oh appreciates the welcoming environment focused on diversity and inclusion, and students’ health and well-being. She looks forward to expanding her professional knowledge in a nurturing academic environment and participating in numerous extracurricular activities, contributing to her long-term goal of achieving her CPA designation.

    Ximena Paredes, Mexico
    Second-year Psychology student Ximena Paredes learned through Brock’s ExperienceBU workshops how diverse people from around the globe can share passions and come together to help create a better world. Through a workshop called ‘The Body Project,’ Paredes met empowered women and learned more about Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC), which inspired her to volunteer with SWAC’s mental health division for the rest of her first year. This passion for helping others translates into Paredes’ career goal of becoming a psychotherapist and/or a scientist.

    Arshdeep Singh, India
    A third-year Computer Science Co-op student, Arshdeep Singh chose Brock University for his post-secondary studies because of the University’s outstanding co-op program. He recommends all students embrace the co-op opportunity to gain practical work experience and discover new personal strengths and skills. With the work experience Singh obtains in Canada thanks to Brock’s focus on experiential education, he plans to drive the development of the IT sector in his home country, India.

    Faryal Zehra, Pakistan
    Returning for her second year as a Brock Media and Communications student and International Student Ambassador, Faryal Zehra is one of many students who, despite being a returning student, has never been to campus for in-person classes. Her experience as an online student means she’s well versed in the resources Brock provides its students and her advice for new Badgers is to leverage what’s available as much as possible.

    She recounts one of her most memorable experiences at Brock: hosting the Pakistani virtual Culture Fest in collaboration with Brock’s Pakistani Students’ Association.

    “I really enjoyed enlightening other Brock students about Pakistan and its culture,” said Zehra.

    The Brock community can look forward to more Culture Fest events during the upcoming academic year, which will be posted on Brock International’s ExperienceBU page.

    This year’s mentor is:

    Aiden Luu, Vietnam
    In his third consecutive year of ambassadorship, Aiden Luu returns in a mentorship role. His journey as a Brock International Student Ambassador started in 2018 with ESL Services. He received a conditional offer into the Bachelor of Business Administration program and graduated from ESL Services’ Intensive English Language Program (IELP) to complete the English language requirements before starting his undergraduate career.

    Over his eight months in the IELP program, Aiden says he had the opportunity to improve his English, get to know Brock, learn about Canadian culture and meet new people from around the world.

    STORY FROM FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • New book examines human rights issues in tourism

    After almost a year of travel restrictions and stay-at-home mandates, many Canadians are looking toward a future when they might visit distant locales once again.

    Atsuko Hashimoto, Associate Professor in Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, hopes that before hopping on a plane, people might first consider how travel may impinge on the rights of others.

    To help readers understand the implications of tourism across a range of topics related to human rights, Hashimoto published Human Rights Issues in Tourismat the end of December, following a historical year for both the tourism industry and human rights worldwide.

    “When we started writing this book, no one could have foreseen all the changes that 2020 brought,” says Hashimoto. “We have seen many pro-democracy demonstrations and the rise of rights activism around the world, the number of asylum seekers increasing exponentially and a global pandemic that has, for the most part, stopped non-essential travel, or ‘taking a holiday,’ resulting in many people’s rights to work being severely compromised.”

    Human Rights Issues in Tourism is part of Routledge’s Tourism, Environment and Development Series.

    Co-authored with colleagues Elif Härkönen of Linkoping University in Sweden and Brock Political Science alumnus Edward Nkyi (MA ’11), the book covers a background of human rights issues related to tourism, from sustainable development goals to politics, before taking deeper dives into specific issues such as human security, displacement, discrimination, privacy, free movement, labour conditions, sex tourism, the environment and Indigenous rights.

    “I like the idea that tourism is a window to what is happening in society,” says Hashimoto. “Readers may be surprised to realize how our own behaviours are, without us noticing, hurting other people.”

    Hashimoto, whose research has long focused on the empowerment of women in rural communities and other disadvantaged groups, says it’s important to acknowledge the part tourists may play in the relationships that exist between globalization, tourism and human rights.

    “Can you imagine as an international tourist that the resort hotel you are staying in used to be a local fishing village?” she says. “The villagers were removed from the area so that the hotel could be built and local access to the beach is now denied. Almost everything in the resort hotel is imported from other countries, so local suppliers benefit very little — even the traditional Indigenous souvenirs sold in the hotel have been mass produced in another country and imported.”

    Hashimoto encourages potential tourists to think of any trip they plan as a visit to someone else’s home, determining if and how their visit will benefit local people and how their mode of transportation may contribute to climate change, another serious human rights issue examined in the book.

    “You are taking a vacation for relaxation and fun, but your enjoyment should not be a burden to others,” Hashimoto says.

    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 expert says decisive action required to make post-COVID-19 tourism sustainable

    What will post-pandemic tourism look like?

    A Brock University tourism expert believes COVID-19 is an opportunity to “reset tourism along the lines of sustainability, if our country, and the world, make massive changes in order to be more integrative and resilient.”

    The federal government designated $4.5 million from the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund for Niagara Falls Tourism over the weekend, with an eye on marketing to domestic travellers as a response to a drop in international visitors.

    “With the potential to lose 50 per cent or more of tourism revenue this year because of COVID-19, marketing and promotion has to be one of the solutions to the problem, so it’s great to see Niagara Falls receive $4.5 million to get the ball rolling,” says David Fennell, a Professor in Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies. “We see how important Niagara Falls is as a major gateway community in Ontario and Canada, relative to other large urban centres such as Toronto, which received $7.9 million.”

    However, Fennell, who also serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Ecotourism, sees much bigger opportunities to strengthen tourism by improving the environmental sustainability around the industry, provided there is strong leadership and ample education.

    “For many, sustainability is just a term that gets in the way of economic benefit,” Fennell says. “However, increasingly — especially if we look at the actions of other countries — future success in tourism is being embedded in a sustainability agenda.”

    This is due in part to consumer demand, with travellers “now more than ever, demanding low-carbon options in accommodation and transportation, greener technologies, and other sustainability dimensions,” he says.

    Fennel suspects that even when international travel resumes on a larger scale, tourists may avoid popular destinations, partially because of the risks now associated with crowds, and partially because of what he anticipates will be a higher “social cost” associated with tourism.

    He notes that in Niagara, the mass tourism of Niagara Falls itself is contrasted by many other specialized attractions, such as wineries to art venues, which don’t always see the constant traffic of casinos and hotels and find it more difficult to rebound after a disaster. He suggests that with greater co-operation across the region, this might improve.

    “Getting sustainability right in our geopark is of considerable importance, because we feel it can be an excellent model for Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world,” Fennell says.

    He sees two possible scenarios that could result from efforts to build sustainability in tourism.

    One involves new technologies, policies, practices and knowledge around how people and organizations navigate the new realities. The second is business-as-usual, where “others are left holding the bag with all the negative socio-cultural, economic and environmental problems that go along with tourism.”

    “We often succumb to akrasia, or weakness of will, as tourists,” Fennell says. “Even though we know that Option A is the right or good course of action, we often choose Option B because it enhances our experience, even at the cost to something or someone else — like a ride on a donkey or elephant that has been severely abused.”

    For this reason, Fennell says, “educating tourists and the tourism industry on the impacts that we create from our travel is absolutely critical if we are to make the right changes.”

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • Tourism student receives 2019 President’s Surgite Award

    Some of the brightest young minds at Brock University were recognized Tuesday for their displays of leadership and contributions to both the Brock and wider Niagara community.

    Ten Brock students were selected from across the University to receive the President’s Surgite Awards, which honour the hard work they’ve completed throughout their educational journey.

    The cross-section of students have amassed impressive resumés packed with academic accomplishments, volunteer experience and community contributions — making them fitting recipients for one of the University’s most prestigious honours.

    The awards were presented by Brock President Gervan Fearon and Anna Lathrop, Vice-Provost, Teaching, Learning and Student Success, during a luncheon to celebrate the recipients on Tuesday, April 2.

    After spending time learning from each award winner about their areas of focus and highlights of their Brock experience, Fearon encouraged them to reflect on their scope of leadership.

    “What happens is we often look at ourselves as individuals and don’t realize we’re impacting and influencing so many of the people around us,” he said. “All of those influences represent your scope of leadership, which is often broader than your job and touches on your volunteer work and the example you’ve become within the community.

    “You’re all leaders and examples to your peers, who then aspire to be able to achieve the same level of excellence. When you multiply that out to the wider scope, you become an inspiration to humanity because you’re defining possibilities.”

    Fourth-year Medical Sciences student Dhruv Jivan was humbled by the honour and said he is grateful to have had such a rich university experience.

    “Brock is such a loving and connected community. That environment allows you to thrive,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.”

    Through the University, Jivan spends time volunteering at the Brock Centre for Health and Well-Being, which has helped to shape his future path.

    “I’ve grown so much during my time with the centre,” he said. “My love for the geriatric community and my passion for working with them has grown exponentially since I’ve been there.”

    Lathrop told the students she’s confident the “future’s in good hands” with them at the helm. “Thank you for being at Brock and for making big differences in the world as you move forward in life,” she said.

    The 2018-19 President’s Surgite Award winners include:

    • Olivia Poulin (Business Administration — Marketing)
    • Jonah Graham (Tourism and Environment, Minor in Geography)
    • Dhruv Jivan (Medical Sciences)
    • Meghan Hickey (Medical Sciences)
    • Fayyaz Rizvi (Biological Sciences)
    • Nicolas Sardella (Biotechnology, Co-op Option)
    • Daislyn Vidal (Biological Sciences)
    • Wei Wang (Business Administration)
    • Leila Meskine (Mathematics and Statistics)
    • Taylor Lidster (Biological Sciences)

    Story reposted from The Brock News.

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  • Department hosts first Alumni-Student Mixer event

    On March 8, 2019, the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies held our first Alumni-Student Mixer event. The night began with an alumni panel where four alumni from our programs answered questions and shared about their experiences during their studies at Brock and life after Brock. This discussion was followed by time for our alumni, students, faculty, staff and retirees to network with each other.

    We would like to thank everyone who attended, and say a special thanks to our four alumni panelists:

    • Rebecca Anello, Junior Meteorological Technologist, Environment and Climate Change Canada. Rebecca graduated from Brock with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Geography in 2014 and a Master of Science in Earth Sciences in 2017.
    • Greg Higginbotham, Marketing Manager, Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls. Greg graduated from Brock with a Bachelor of Tourism Studies in 2010 and a Master of Arts in Applied Health Sciences (Leisure Studies) in 2014.
    • Kerrie Pickering, PhD Candidate in Sustainability, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Kerrie graduated from Brock with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies in 2010 and a Master of Arts in Geography in 2013.
    • Edward Stubbing, Senior Transportation Planner, AECOM. Edward graduated from Brock with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Geography 2009.

    Keep an eye out for our next Alumni-Student Mixer event on social media (follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!)

     

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  • Department welcomes visiting scholar from Huaqiao University, China

    Professors shaking hands

    Dr. Michael Ripmeester welcomes Dr. Leon Lian Dong to Brock.

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies is pleased to welcome Dr. Leon Lian Dong to Brock. Dr. Dong will be with our Department as a visiting scholar from February – August 2019.

    Dr. Dong is a professor of Landscape Architecture, and the Director of the Center for Sustainable Landscape Research, School of Architecture, Huaqiao University, China. Dr. Dong obtained his PhD in Building Science, from Chongqing University, China, in 1992, and then did his post-doctoral research at Purdue University, Iowa State University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. Dr. Dong has thirty years of teaching and research experience, multi-disciplinary background. He has completed more than 30 research projects and 40 consulting projects, published 6 books, and nearly 100 research papers.

    Dr. Dong’s current research areas include:

    1. Sustainable site planning and landscape design for tourist destinations
    2. Landscape microclimate design
    3. Human-environment interactions

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  • Brock research encourages Niagara to explore becoming a UNESCO Global Geopark

    With the mighty cataracts, vineyards producing critically acclaimed wines and vast networks of bicycle paths, tourists coming to Niagara have many options of what to see and experience. There’s also a world of rocks, canyons, waterfalls and other land features that even many locals don’t know about.

    Niagara’s unique, rich geology — and the economic and cultural activities connected to these features — might be better known if the region was to become a UNESCO Global Geopark, says new research from Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO).

    “Being designated a UNESCO Global Geopark allows Niagara to brand itself internationally as a destination for geotourism,” says Carol Phillips, author of the NCO policy brief Ohnia:kara: An Aspiring Global Geopark.

    “Niagara has a fascinating Earth history that has created so many beautiful sites, culminating in Niagara Falls,” says Phillips. “And this brand allows us to showcase those sites as well as the history and culture that has developed around them.”

    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) describes a Global Geopark as being a “single, unified geographical area where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.”

    Spearheading efforts for Niagara to become a UNESCO Global Geopark is the geographic educational non-profit group called Geospatial Niagara. The NCO policy brief says the group has identified more than 78 geosites in the region that are of geological, environmental or cultural interest.

    These include the Welland Canal, the Wainfleet Bog, Beamer Falls, Balls Falls, the Mewinzha Archaeology Gallery in Fort Erie and historical sites from the War of 1812, among others.

    The NCO policy brief says, under a geopark system, Niagara Falls would still remain the major draw for visitors to the area. But the tourism industry could be expanded by creating a niche for geotourists interested in seeing Earth history and the historical and cultural sites that have evolved from these unique and significant land features.

    The brief notes that the Niagara Escarpment, on which Brock University sits, has been a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve since 1990. A geopark designation with infrastructure such as visitor centres and plaques with QR codes “can help the Biosphere Reserve tell its story by guiding people to lesser known geosites as the escarpment winds to its greatest asset, Niagara Falls,” says the brief.

    Darren Platakis, Executive Director of Geospatial Niagara, says another big advantage of Niagara being designated a UNESCO Global Geopark is that it could provide a strong educational component for Niagara students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

    “A Geopark will provide opportunities for students to not only learn and begin to understand our geology and how it is so interdependent with our environment, culture and history, but they can also gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the 12,000 years of Indigenous history in Niagara,” says Platakis.

    “This Indigenous history is an extremely important element to the overall development of the application and programming for the Geopark,” he says. “Students, local residents and tourists will see Niagara with a new set of eyes.”

    Platakis says the designation could also attract researchers and students to the area, with programs and services connecting into a wide range of studies at Brock and Niagara College.

    Geospatial Niagara submitted an expression of interest to the Canadian National Committee for Geoparks and is in the process of applying to UNESCO to become a Global Geopark.

    The NCO’s policy brief looks at the costs and benefits of geoparks in China, the United Kingdom and France and concludes that a UNESCO Global Geopark designation could benefit all 12 municipalities in Niagara.

    “This policy brief encourages all levels of government and sectors of society in Niagara to consider the benefits of a UNESCO Global Geopark and how they may each play a part to make it a reality,” says NCO Director Charles Conteh.

    “The vision behind the Global Geopark initiative in Niagara is closely aligned with the sociocultural and economic advancement of the region,” he says. “Leveraging and promoting this initiative should be a fundamentally community-driven effort if it is to be sustainable.”

    The NCO brief lays out a number of “next steps” in making the UNESCO Global Geopark a reality in Niagara, emphasizing that it will take a broad community effort across the environment, education and tourism sectors.

    Story reposted from The Brock News.

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