Articles by author: sackles

  • Brock’s UNESCO Chair launches Sustainability Poetry Contest

    31 January 2018

    What kind of future do you want?

    That’s the question being asked this year as part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Poetry Day.

    Brock University Professor and UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability Liette Vasseur, along with Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, is putting out a call for submissions in this year’s 2018 Sustainability Poetry Contest. All Niagara residents are eligible to enter their original, unpublished poems with the theme of ‘The Future We Want’ for this year’s contest.

    UNESCO has been celebrating World Poetry Day annually since 1999. The idea is to use poetry as a social tool to bring awareness to social issues, give a voice to the community, promote linguistic diversity and change the way people view their place in the world.

    “The poetry contest is important because when we look at sustainability in communities, arts and culture are essential for human well-being,” said Vasseur. “We are aware that when we look at sustainable development, we do not only consider economic development but also social development. It is important to integrate activities that make people feel positive about their lives and help work toward our sustainable development goals.”

    The Sustainability Poetry Contest, which is under the patronage of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, includes categories for elementary, high school and post-secondary students, as well as the general public. Both French and English poems are welcome.

    This year’s topic is derived from a 2015 United Nations outcome document that spurred the development of the 2030 Agenda, citing 17 sustainable development goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved by 2030.

    “The 2018 Sustainability Poetry Contest affords an opportunity for individuals to philosophically envision ‘the future we want’ and express it creatively,” said ESRC Director Ryan Plummer. “In making connections to the sustainable development goals, the poetry helps to bridge sustainability locally to a global agenda for transformative change.”

    Poems can be submitted online until 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19 by visiting the UNESCO Chair’s website. Prizes such as books and gift cards, will be awarded in each of the four categories.

    Winners will be announced at the UNESCO World Poetry Day celebration on Friday, March 23 at Mahtay Café in downtown St. Catharines. The event is free, but registration on the Chair’s website is required as space is limited.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

    Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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    Categories: Media releases

  • UNESCO Chair discusses sustainable agriculture strategies over tea in Fujian

    Liette Vasseur enjoyed some tea after a recent meeting with her team of scientists, technicians and students in continued efforts to examine sustainable alternative agricultural strategies to improve tea plantations in the Fujian province of Southern China. This large research program also integrates the Chinese counterpart of the Ontario-China Research and Innovation project from the Ministry of Research and Innovation. Agrominerals from Boreal Agrominerals are being tested there for improving the health of plantations.


    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • Liette Vasseur speaks at Sustainability Transdisciplinary Seminar Series

    In her role as UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability: From Local to Global, Liette Vasseur spoke at the Environmental Sustainability Research (ESRC)’s  Sustainability Transdisciplinary Seminar Series on January 12. The seminars are a component of the Master of Sustainability program.

    Her topic was “The case study of San Juan, Ecuador: Bringing ecosystem governance for a more sustainable community.”

    Here is a brief synopsis of the talk:

    “The Andean Páramo is a fragile ecosystem that hosts high diversity and plays an important role in moderating climate and water discharge towards the Amazon basin. The Chimborazo region of Ecuador is highly vulnerable to the advance of industrial/ conventional agricultural activities and the changing climate, which is severely effecting water management and ecosystem health. Vasseur’s presentation discussed a large project that involves the indigenous population of San Juan and discussed the way forward to enhance community sustainability and resilience through concepts such as ecosystem governance, ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change and landscape restoration.”


    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • 2018 Sustainability Poetry Contest accepting submissions!

    In celebration of UNESCO Poetry Day, Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC), and the UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability would like to invite you to submit your original, unpublished, poem to our sustainability poetry contest.

    The theme this year is ‘The Future We Want’ and the contest is open to all elementary, secondary and post-secondary students in the Niagara region as well as to the general public. The contest is accepting submissions both in English and in French.

    Submissions are open until Monday, February 19 at 5 p.m.

    Submit your poem today!

    English submission form
    French Submission form

    More about this year’s theme:
    The United Nations (UN) General Assembly in its Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 27 July 2012 during the Rio +20 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, adopted the outcome document entitled “The future we want” as a vision for what has become in 2015 the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

    As mentioned: Poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. In this regard, we are committed to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency… We therefore acknowledge the need to further mainstream sustainable development at all levels, integrating economic, social and environmental aspects and recognizing their interlinkages, so as to achieve sustainable development in all its dimensions.”

    Complete contest rules available here.

    Get inspired by reading submissions from past contests!
    Check out our Sustainability Poetry Contest E-Book.

    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • Vasseur publishes new article on gut immunity in the diamondback moth

    Liette Vasseur has published, as co-author with Junhan Lin, Xiaofeng Xia, Xiao-Qiang Yu,Jinhong Shen,  Yong Li, Hailan Lin, Shanshan Tang and Minsheng You, a new article, “Gene expression profiling provides insights into the immune mechanism of Plutella xylostella midgut to microbial infection” in Gene.

    Read the publishers abstract:

    Insect gut immunity plays a key role in defense against microorganism infection. The knowledge of insect gut immunity has been obtained mostly from Drosophila melanogaster. Little is known about gut immunity in the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.), a pest destroying cruciferous crops worldwide. In this study, expressions of the immune-related genes in the midgut of Pxylostella orally infected with Staphylococcus aureusEscherichia coli and Pichia pastoris were profiled by RNA-seq and qRT-PCR approaches. The results revealed that the Toll, IMD, JNK and JAK-STAT pathways and possibly the prophenoloxidase activation system in Pxylostella could be activated by oral infections, and moricins, gloverins and lysozyme2 might act as important effectors against microorganisms. Subsequent knock-down of IMD showed that this gene was involved in regulating the expression of down-stream genes in the IMD pathway. Our work indicates that the Toll, IMD, JNK and JAK-STAT pathways may synergistically modulate immune responses in the Pxylostella midgut, implying a complex and diverse immune system in the midgut of insects.

    Read the article 

    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • Vasseur publishes new article in Ambio: A Journal of the Human Environment

    Liette Vasseur has published a new article, “Complex problems and unchallenged solutions: Bringing ecosystem governance to the forefront of the UN sustainable development goals” in Ambio: A Journal of the Human Environment. The article was co-authored with Darwin HorningMary Thornbush, Emmanuelle Cohen-Shacham, Angela Andrade, Ed Barrow, Steve R. Edwards, Piet Wit, and Mike Jones.

    Read the publisher’s abstract:

    Sustainable development aims at addressing economic, social, and environmental concerns, but the current lack of responsive environmental governance hinders progress. Short-term economic development has led to limited actions, unsustainable resource management, and degraded ecosystems. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) may continue to fall short of achieving significant progress without a better understanding of how ecosystems contribute to achieving sustainability for all people. Ecosystem governance is an approach that integrates the social and ecological components for improved sustainability and includes principles such as adaptive ecosystem co-management, subsidiarity, and telecoupling framework, as well as principles of democracy and accountability. We explain the importance of ecosystem governance in achieving the SDGs, and suggest some ways to ensure that ecosystem services are meaningfully considered. This paper reflects on how integration of these approaches into policies can enhance the current agenda of sustainability.

    Read the article

    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • Liette Vasseur appointed as president of CCUNESCO’s Natural, Social, and Human Sciences Sectoral Commission

    Vasseur, right, is pictured here with Sébastien Goupil, General Secretary of CCUNESCO, centre, and Louise Vandelac, former Chair of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s Sectoral Commission on Human, Social and Natural Sciences.

    Congratulations to UNESCO Chairholder Liette Vasseur, who was appointed as the new President of the Canadian Committee for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (CCUNESCO)’s Natural, Social, and Human Sciences Sectoral Commission last week!

    The Natural, Social, and Human Sciences Sectoral commission is an 11-member group of Canadian scientists, academics and others providing knowledge and expertise on a range of issues. These include: social and environmental impacts of climate change; conservation of natural heritage and water resources; inclusion of newcomers and vulnerable groups; reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people; youth engagement; and measures to fight discrimination, racism, violence, bullying and radicalization.

    “We’re producing refection papers on some of the topics we believe are important, to come up with a long-range vision of how Canadians and the federal government can implement various actions related to sustainability,” Vasseur said.

    The Sectoral Commission advises CCUNESCO on the organization’s programs and activities in these areas. In turn, CCUNESCO, operating under the Canada Council for the Arts, seeks to connect Canadians to the broader work of UNESCO, whose work “contributes to a peaceful, equitable and sustainable future that leaves no one behind.”

    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • Vasseur publishes new book: Adaptation to Coastal Storms in Atlantic Canada

    UNESCO Chairholder Liette Vasseur has published a new book based on an analysis that was performed on a series of winter storms in 2010/ 2011 that caused considerable damage to coastal communities in Atlantic Canada.

    Adaptation to Coastal Storms in Atlantic Canada,
    which was co-authored by Brock University’s Mary J. Thornbush and PI Steve Plante, of the Université du Québec à Rimouski, summarizes the results of the project and provides a perspective on how people in 10 coastal communities perceive and experience extreme weather events, and enhance their capacity to adapt and improve their resilience. It describes the outcome of two series of interviews and activities that were conducted during the project, as well as the lessons learned and general elements that should be considered when researchers collaborate with communities to define adaptation and resilience strategies.

    With coastal storms increasing both in frequency and intensity, the book provides a guide that allows communities to better understand the priorities and options available to them in order to then take an active role in adaptation to climate change in their communities.

    “We tried to find ways that the tools would be simple enough that the communities can use them and use a participatory approach,” said Vasseur. “It’s not only for coastal zones and it can be used in other countries. Because this was a large project of six years, we were able to develop a lot of tools that are now being used in other places, such as in a project in Ecuador.”

     To learn more or purchase the e-book, visit the publisher’s website


    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • Make Canada a world leader in renewable energy production and use: national research group

    26 May 2017

    A Brock biologist is among a large group of university researchers calling on the Canadian government to become a world leader in the production and use of renewable energy.

    The Sustainable Canada Dialogues research group made up of 71 researchers, including Brock’s Liette Vasseur, released the Re-Energizing Canada: Pathways to a Low-Carbon Future report Friday, May 26 that says Canada can use the “global low-carbon energy transition” as an economic engine for the country.

    The report outlines ways Canada could speed up its shift to low-carbon energy systems from its current reliance on fossil fuels.

    “We’re highly reliant on oil and gas,” says Vasseur, a UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability: from Local to Global. “We need to look at changing the way that we are working: how we move away from oil, gas, coal and other fossil fuels and move toward forms of low-carbon electrification like hydro-electricity and other renewable energy.”

    The researchers identify three ways Canada could transform itself into a low-carbon economy:

    • Cut down on the demand for energy through conservation and efficiency
    • Increase electrification and switch to electricity that emits low levels of carbon
    • Replace high-carbon petroleum-based fuels with low-carbon options

    “The future competitiveness and success of companies will be influenced by their readiness to engage in the low-carbon energy transition,” says the report.

    Sources of alternative energy include: hydroelectricity; solar, wind, wave and tidal power; geothermal power; and biofuels produced from plant materials, animal waste and other organic material.

    Vasseur contributed to sections of the report that deal with social acceptability, social justice and culture, and how these are key factors in determining what Canada’s energy systems will look like in the future.

    “There’s the issue of changing lifestyles,” says Vasseur. “People in general have a fear of change and might resist using new sources of energy.”

    She says people with lower incomes tend to bear a disproportionately higher cost of clean energy.

    “We already know the debate that occurred in Ontario when electricity prices went up. If you can’t afford it, you’ll have a tougher time,” says Vasseur.

    “One of the suggestions is how to better distribute the revenue coming from new energy sources so that it is more fair, such as a rebate given to families that have lower incomes,” she says.

    The report lays out a plan that will result in Canada slashing its 2005 carbon emission levels by 80 per cent by 2050. The presence of carbon dioxide has been steadily and sharply increasing since the 1950s as a result of burning fossil fuels and other human activities. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, increasing the Earth’s surface temperature.

    Vasseur and the other authors of the Re-Energizing Canada: Pathways to a Low-Carbon Future say the steps they’re suggesting will help meet a goal set by 196 countries in 2015 to avoid a global temperature increase of two degrees celsius from pre-industrial levels. Scientists report that a two-degree rise would have a range of serious impacts, including increases in heat waves, rainstorms, water levels and the total destruction of tropical coral reefs.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

    Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

    – 30 –

    Categories: Media releases

  • Industrial agriculture can have negative impact on local communities: Brock research

    26 April 2017

    Industrial agriculture might seem good on paper, but the trend of reducing biodiversity in the name of profits is harmful to communities.

    Liette Vasseur, a Brock University Professor of Biology, says many species of vegetable and fruit plants that have fed communities around the world for generations are being phased out to make room for large commercial crops such as coffee, tea, wheat and canola because of the strong international market demands.

    “When heritage crops are lost, we reduce genetic diversity,” she says. “We know that native species that have been there for a long time are often more adaptable to local conditions and may respond better to changing conditions, especially those coming from climate change.”

    Vasseur is part of an international team that researches ways of connecting plant biodiversity to agricultural systems in communities in Ecuador and Canada, and examining how this relates to climate change.

    The team’s project, “Agro-biodiversity, Nutrition and Sustainable Marketing of Heritage Crops in Ecuador and Canada,” is headed by Brian McLaren, Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources Management at Lakehead University.

    Vasseur said the profits gained by replacing heritage crops with commercial crops, or even non-food products such as cotton and tobacco, are often short lived.

    In one particular community the Brock researcher was working with, the government encouraged farmers to replace their heritage crops with potatoes to meet high demand.

    “All the farmers started growing potatoes,” she says. “The problem is the market got saturated, and when that happened, they can’t get a good price for their potatoes. It has been the same for quinoa.”

    Not only does that translate into less income, but it means fewer nutritional food choices for families.

    The research team was recently awarded $660,000 from the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Advanced Scholars Program. As a co-applicant, Vasseur will receive a portion of that fund.

    Under the project, Vasseur and several graduate students at Brock will work with researchers, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from Lakehead and Escuela Superior Politecnica de Chimborazo university in Ecuador.

    The team will look at how communities in that country, as well as in Ontario, can expand their food production by preserving their heritage crops and growing various species of crops together.

    Having a wider selection of crops will increase communities’ access to nutritious food while protecting the environment, says Vasseur.

    “The community we’re working with in Ecuador is gradually losing its original biodiversity and has overused agrochemicals,” she explains. “Now they’re having issues with water shortages and decreased water quality because of fertilizers and pesticides.”

    The research team’s activities include:
    • Documenting how small-scale agricultural production enables farmers to adapt to climate change and conserve biodiversity
    • Describing opportunities and barriers related to farm-based agro-biodiversity conservation
    • Understanding changes in consumer attitudes, nutrition and well-being associated with new marketing methods and logistics, such as e-commerce, organic co-operatives, and the promotion of traditional food culture

    Brock University Professor of Biology Liette Vasseur is available for interviews about her research.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

    Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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    Categories: Media releases