Articles tagged with: water

  • Community invited to Brock’s World Water Day celebration

    THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 2024 | by  | From The Brock News

    Water — and all that it means to the world — will be celebrated at an upcoming community event hosted by Brock University.

    Brock’s Water Resilience Lab and Department of Geography and Tourism Studies will host the inaugural World Water Day Celebration on Friday, March 22 to showcase the many ways people study, appreciate and engage with water at the University and across the Niagara region.

    The free public event, funded in part by the Council for Research in the Social Sciences, brings to life a long-term goal of Julia Baird, Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience.

    “Water touches so many aspects of our lives — what we learn and the research that happens at Brock, as well as issues of water management, water conservation and the well-being of our community and ecosystems in the broader Niagara community,” says the Associate Professor in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre and the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies.

    Baird has worked closely with Samantha Morris, Academic Advisor and Communications Co-ordinator in Geography and Tourism Studies, and graduate student volunteer Hannah Marlen Lübker to bring together the community to share the myriad of ways that water is important.

    The World Water Day Celebration will open at 10 a.m. in the Rankin Family Pavilion on Brock’s main campus. Students can learn about the many water-related courses on offer and the community can discover some of the dynamic water research being undertaken at Brock.

    Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., attendees can peruse water-themed informational and research posters from graduate and undergraduate students, an array of artistic submissions, featured course highlights or displays that combine all of these features, such as a PhotoVoice exhibit from one of Baird’s courses and the VISA 2P90 exhibit currently on display in the Matheson Learning Commons and Thistle display cases on  “Women, Water, and Words: An Exploration of Visual Culture in Niagara.”

    The James A. Gibson Library has also curated a featured collection of print and e-books entitled “Exploring Deep Waters” to highlight ways to learn more about water.

    From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., interactive booths will open featuring Brock researchers and community groups and organizations, including the following:

    • Niagara Region
    • Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
    • Niagara Parks Commission
    • Niagara Geopark
    • Soaring Eagles Indigenous Elementary School
    • Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies
    • Water Resilience Lab

    Researchers will share their projects and community organizations will highlight their work as well as volunteer and student job opportunities that may be available. Visitors present during the interactive portion of the day can enter a prize draw, which includes a $50 gift card for Someday Books. The draw will take place at 1:30 p.m.

    All members of the Brock and wider communities are invited to drop in and enjoy this all-encompassing tribute to water.

    Reposted from The Brock News

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  • Brock’s first World Water Day event seeks community submissions

    Brock will celebrate World Water Day by inviting students, researchers, artists and community organizations to come together and share their work and interests related to water.

    Hosted by the Water Resilience Lab and the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, Brock’s inaugural World Water Day Celebration on Friday, March 22 aims to help attendees learn about water and efforts to protect this essential resource.

    Members of the Brock community — including students, staff, faculty and alumni — are encouraged to submit research and informational posters, course highlights, artwork and interactive activities to be included in the event.

    Anyone interested in taking part can use the submission form to apply before the 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, March 7.

    Display materials will need to be delivered by Wednesday, March 20 to prepare for installation.

    Limited funding to support student posters, provided by the Council for Research in the Social Sciences, is available by application on the submission form.

    The World Water Day Celebration will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Rankin Family Pavilion, with interactive stations and community organization booths open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

    All members of the Brock and wider community are invited to attend.

    Story reposted from the Brock News.

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  • CRC Spotlight: Brock researcher examining ways to foster water resilience

    The federal government’s 
    Canada Research Chairs program invests up to $311 million per year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Chairholders are recognized to be national and international experts in the fields of engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences. Brock University has 10 active Canada Research Chairs, with more to be announced. This monthly series profiles the work, and lives, of Brock’s Chairholders.

    When she wants to take a break in her busy schedule, Julia Baird heads out to a lake or river.

    “I’ve always found water to be a source of calm in my life,” says the Associate Professor in Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) and the Department of Geography and Tourism.

    “Water is critical to life; it’s inherent in us that we’re connected to water,” she says. “I think of the well-being of future generations and how important it is to support sustainability.”

    As Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience, Baird investigates activities that have an impact on water. She studies how decisions regarding water use are made at the government, community and individual levels through her Water Resilience Lab.

    “The diversity of voices, and how those voices are included and connected, is critical for creating the right conditions for water sustainability,” she says.

    Central to her work is the concept of water resilience, which Baird says involves “being able to continue to support the well-being of the system despite whatever disturbances may arise.”

    Baird says there are three ways to respond to disturbances in the environment, such as floods or droughts brought about by climate change: persist where possible in spite of disturbances, adapt to situation or transform the way society operates to mitigate or avoid disastrous impacts.

    Ideally, decision-making processes related to water, as well as related areas such as land-use planning, agricultural operations, coastline protection and erosion control, are guided by water resilience principles and practices.

    Baird has long been fascinated by how people make decisions and how individuals influence decisions carried out at the political level. Her research looks at how psychological traits, such as empathy and self-efficacy at the individual level, can motivate the public to support decisions that lead to water sustainability.

    Empathy is associated with attitudes that reflect stronger support for resilience-based approaches for the environment.

    In a study led by Baird, participants in six countries who read three scenarios describing situations of flooding, drought and depleted fish stocks gave moderate to strong support for governance taking a resilience-based approach.

    “We know that empathy is malleable, it can change in people,” says Baird. “The question is, how can we build empathy broadly so that the public will influence changes that can have positive impacts down the line?”

    Baird earned her PhD in Environment and Sustainability from the University of Saskatchewan in 2012 and came to Brock as a post-doctoral fellow. She became Associate Professor in the ESRC and the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies in 2021.

    In that same year, Baird was granted her Canada Research Chair position, which was renewed in 2022.

    Baird has had a number of accomplishments during her terms, including:

    In her second term, Baird plans to test interventions to build empathy broadly in society and examine the long-term impacts of empathy interventions on behaviour.

    “Ultimately, our work is centered on finding solutions to some of today’s most pressing water issues,” says Baird. “I’m motivated by that every day.”

    Story reposted from The Brock News

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  • Brock researchers awarded more than $1.1 million in SSHRC funding

    With so many charities competing for a limited number of dollars, it’s hard to know who to support. Donors want to make sure groups they fund are using the money responsibly.

    Professor of Accounting Hemantha Herath is among those challenging the conventional way charities calculate and report their program expenses.

    With funding from the federal government’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Herath is researching how data science techniques can be integrated into current reporting methods to give a fuller picture of charities’ performances.

    Herath is among eight Brock University researchers awarded SSHRC’s Insight Grant, announced Thursday, June 16 by François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

    Brock University received more than $1.1 million in the latest round of Insight Grants, which support research excellence and are judged worthy of funding by fellow researchers and/or other experts. The research can be conducted individually or by teams.

    “SSHRC’s investment in our research enables our scholars to contribute valuable insights into our collective understanding of a wide range of challenges faced in society,” says Brock’s Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

    In Herath’s case, he will use his funding to research how to recalculate the program expense ratio, which measures costs incurred by programs, services and other activities fulfilling a non-profit’s mission compared to its total costs.

    Herath is exploring how to integrate statistical techniques, including cluster analysis, which groups data that share similar properties, and text mining, which involves the process of examining large collections of documents to discover new information, into the accounting process.

    “This data-driven approach will generate more reliable information that will help donors, resource providers and the public evaluate the effectiveness of non-profit organizations so that they can make better funding decisions,” he says.

    Brock researchers awarded Insight Grants in 2022 are:

    • Julia Baird, Associate Professor, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre and the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, “Individual interventions to transform water governance”
    • Angela Book, Associate Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, “The Social Predator Hypothesis of Psychopathy”
    • Timothy Fletcher, Associate Professor, Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Champions for Meaningful Physical Education”
    • Hemantha Herath, Professor, Accounting, Goodman School of Business, “How to Choose a Charity: A Data Science Based Investigation”
    • Shannon Kerwin, Associate Professor, Sport Management, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Signaling Change: Exploring Gender EDI and Human Resource Management Practices, Board Gender Composition, and Board Outcomes in Non-profit Sport Governing Bodies”
    • Sean Locke, Assistant Professor, Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Understanding how reframing inaccurate barrier perceptions promotes physical activity participation”
    • Bradley Millington, Associate Professor, Sport Management, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Sport and the digital economy: A case study of the Canadian sports analytics industry”
    • Elizabeth Sauer, Professor, English Language and Literature, Faculty of Humanities, “Reorienting English National Consciousness: Renaissance to Late Restoration”

    Also announced June 16 are Stage 1 of SSHRC’s Partnership Grants, which provide support for new and existing formal partnerships over four to seven years to advance research, research training and/or knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities.

    Brock University’s two awards, totalling $39,882, are:

    • Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Professor, Dramatic Arts, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, “Staging Better Futures/Mettre en scène de meilleurs avenirs”
    • Teena Willoughby, Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, “The impact of technology use on adolescent risk behaviours and wellbeing over time: A collaborative approach focusing on partnerships and comparisons across different research approaches”

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  • New paper co-authored by Julia Baird: “Fostering ocean empathy through future scenarios”

    A new access paper co-authored by Geography and Tourism Studies Assistant Professor, Dr. Julia Baird, titled “Fostering ocean empathy through future scenarios” was published in People and Nature. This paper is open-access and is available to download here.


    1. Empathy for nature is considered a prerequisite for sustainable interactions with the biosphere. Yet to date, empirical research on how to stimulate empathy remains scarce.
    2. Here, we investigate whether future scenarios can promote greater empathy for the oceans. Using a pre-post empathy questionnaire, participants (N = 269) were presented with an optimistic or a pessimistic future scenario for the high seas in a virtual reality (VR) or written format.
    3. Results showed that post-test empathy levels were significantly higher than pre-test levels, indicating that future scenarios fostered ocean empathy. We also find that the pessimistic scenario resulted in greater empathy levels compared to the optimistic scenario. Finally, we found no significant difference between the VR and written conditions and found that empathy scores significantly decreased 3 months after the initial intervention.
    4. As one of the first studies to empirically demonstrate the influence of a purposeful intervention to build ocean empathy, this article makes critical contributions to advancing research on future scenarios and offers a novel approach for supporting ocean sustainability.

    Video Abstract: “Fostering ocean empathy through future scenarios”


    Jessica Blythe, Julia Baird, Nathan Bennett, Gillian Dale, Kirsty L. Nash, Gary Pickering, Colette C. C. Wabnitz. (2021). Fostering ocean empathy through future scenarios. People and Nature. Online:

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  • Students help WWF-Canada with fresh approaches to sharing water research


    When students in Julia Baird’s Research Themes in Water Resources class recently undertook a project to collect and share current research about freshwater, they had three very different audiences to impress: Baird, a curious public and the World Wildlife Fund of Canada (WWF-Canada).

    It wasn’t the first time students in the fourth-year Geography and Tourism Studies course worked with WWF-Canada on such a project, thanks in part to the WWF-Canada—Brock Partnership for Freshwater Resilience led by Baird, which officially launched last June.

    But this time around, students had access to funding to support their work-integrated learning (WIL) through Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada’s Innovation Hub (iHub), funded in part through the Government of Canada’s Innovative Work-Integrated Learning Initiative (IWIL).

    Students used a stipend to finance innovative projects that could help a target audience understand different issues related to freshwater resilience. The top projects also received a cash prize.

    “Students were given a list of potential questions they could answer, which WWF-Canada and I developed together,” explains Baird, an Associate Professor in Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) who also holds Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience. “They were then asked to choose one question and take on three tasks that, together, provided a range of knowledge mobilization products, from scholarly products such as an annotated bibliography of relevant literature to creative products intended for an audience of their choosing.”

    Baird co-developed the project with WWF-Canada to ensure that both the organization and the students reaped the maximum benefits from their work-integrated learning.

    During a Research Themes in Water Resources class, Lyndsay Bott created an infographic on salt marshes and mitigation measures that can be taken to protect them.


    “WWF-Canada accesses foundational and current research on specific issues of interest and students gain knowledge about water issues and skills in identifying relevant research and translating it for a partner and also for another audience of their choosing,” says Baird. “It’s a project that, for me, ticked a lot of boxes in terms of learning outcomes.”

    To keep everyone on the right track, students were encouraged to communicate with a key contact at WWF-Canada throughout the semester to ask questions and touch base.

    Emily Bowyer (BSc ’21), who majored in Biology and Geography before graduating from Brock last month, says that working directly with WWF-Canada had a strong impact on her project, a series of TikTok videos about Riparian zones and restorations.

    “My biggest takeaway from the experience was working with an organization like WWF-Canada and learning from their expertise,” says Bowyer. “It was a great opportunity to build lasting connections with professionals in my field as a student.”

    Lyndsay Bott (BSc ’21), who will start a Master of Sustainability degree at Brock in the fall, agrees.

    “It was great to see how far an organization such as WWF-Canada stretches and how passionate the staff we had as contacts were,” says Bott. “It was overall just great to be involved in the community and gain experience this way.”

    Bott’s project focused on the interactions between freshwater and coastal ecosystems and resulted in an infographic about strategies for dealing with freshwater pollutants and how they can affect coastal salt marshes.

    Baird says students exceeded her expectations with their work on the projects, whether they were building on existing strengths or taking the opportunity to try out something new, as well as the final results, which included social media pieces, high school lesson plans, short videos and ArcGIS StoryMaps.

    Carol Ng (BA ’21), who also graduated last month, decided to appeal to kids with a cartoon-based Instagram post on beavers and freshwater quality, featuring an original character, Billy the Beaver.

    “It was targeted to children, and it was just such an engaging series. Billy looks for a new home and finds one that is not quite right but by building a dam it benefits not only him but also some fish friends he meets,” says Baird. “It’s cute but also takes rather complex research results and shares them at an entirely appropriate level for children.”

    Anugraha Udas (BA ’21), who created an educational video on Riparian restoration project monitoring, says the assignment provided a unique way of showcasing skills outside of the typical academic environment.

    “Through my experience in drone videography and contemporary videography, I was able to create an educational video that everyone could understand and enjoy,” says Udas, who will start a master’s degree in spatial analysis at Ryerson University in the fall to pursue research interests that were crystallized in the recent Brock course. “This is something that a typical essay would not be able to recreate.”

    Cara Krezek, Brock’s Director of Co-op, Career and Experiential Education, as well as President of CEWIL Canada, says Brock has become known for these types of course experiences.

    “These innovative, engaging experiences allow students to bridge their learning to meaningful work that is useable by industry,” says Krezek. “CEWIL Canada has invested in innovative WIL projects across the country and this project met the criteria for a grant as it used technology, was innovative and funded quality student experiences.”

    In the end, the projects had a strong impact on both the partners at WWF-Canada and the students, who learned about issues and gained crucial experience in the field.

    “Based on the feedback from WWF-Canada, they identified some new, innovative ways to communicate their messaging around freshwater issues from the student projects,” says Baird. “I’m grateful that WWF-Canada has been interested in and sees the value of maintaining this course-based project as part of our partnership.”


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  • New video on “Water and Climate” by David Grimes

    In this talk, David Grimes presents on “Water and Climate: Uncertain Times, Inconvenient Realities”. Watch the full video below:

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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.


    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.


    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:

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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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  • Julia Baird selected as finalist for Water’s Next award

    Julia Baird profile photoThe Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate Dr. Julia Baird for being selected as a finalist for a 2019 Water’s Next award. This “awards program honours the incredible achievements and ideas of individuals and companies that successfully work to make a positive change to water in our country and abroad”. Dr. Baird was selected as a finalist in the People – Academic category.

    More information is available here.

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