News

  • Launch of Shoreline Public-to-Public (P2P) Online Survey

    In previous blog posts we have highlighted some of the various ways that we can build resilience through robust adaptation, including options for enhanced shoreline protection (https://brocku.ca/unesco-chair/news-3/).

    During the MEOPAR project, we have also listened to you, as part of our interviews, focus groups, and informal chats. In addition to enhancing green spaces and using both natural and traditional shoreline protection, you helped us identify a number of other options, such as tax relief and subsidies for improvements, technical guidance, insurance coverage, and facilitating managed retreat.

    The team has compiled these options and created a survey to let you rank them in terms of your personal experience, preferences, and values. As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic does not allow us to have in-person meetings to continue our discussions; so, we are moving online with a few tools to further the understanding of opportunities and challenges for climate change adaptation in Great Lakes communities, such as Lincoln, and elsewhere. First, we will be rolling out an on-line survey. This on-line survey makes use of a public-to-public (P2P) platform decision support tool (DST) developed by the University of Waterloo’s Dr. Simone Philpot.

    We would love to get your input on what you consider appropriate risk-based options. If you are interested in participating in the survey, please contact us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca and we will provide you with what you need to know to take the survey.

    We will be coming to you soon with other opportunities to continue the discussion… virtually, of course!

    Thanks again for your interest in the MEOPAR project. Your input will help us co-create community solutions to address the issues of resilient shoreline protection.

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Springtime flooding is just around the corner

    A google maps satellite image representing the five Great Lakes across Ontario and how they are all connected by a variety of water systems.


     Basement flooding, often resulting from snowmelt, intense rainfall events, and poor drainage, is a concern many of us have as springtime approaches. Basements are inherently prone to flooding because they are the lowest level in the home and are constructed below-grade. Flooding of these spaces is even possible during dry seasons, when sudden, heavy rainfall occurs. This year’s winter in the Niagara Region has been unpredictable, with a lot of snow accumulation seen within the last few weeks. This means that flooding this spring is possible, depending on how quickly the weather warms up and melts the existing snow.

    We should always plan to reduce the related impacts from flooding. Having a wet spring and summer has the potential to change the dynamic of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, as well. The five Great Lakes — Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario —  are the largest freshwater system in the world, spanning a total surface area of 245,013 square kilometers and flowing gradually into the St. Lawrence River.  This system moves a lot of water; even more so during the spring meltdown or a series of intense rainfalls like those that occurred in the spring of 2017. When excess water enters that system, flooding can then occur. It can either be localized or associated with a river or water system. An area of land that drains all of the streams and rainfall to a common outlet is known as a watershed. When too much water from smaller streams is drained into these interconnected lake systems, it leads to flooding of the riverine areas. In our region, small local watersheds all ultimately discharge into Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, or the Niagara River. The Great Lakes are considered a larger watershed consisting of all these smaller watersheds (including those of the other lakes). More snow around Lake Superior will gradually have an impact on our lakes here in Niagara.

    Flooding can cause water damage to homes (including the foundation) and can also result in the contamination of homes from sewage or mud. There are many steps you can take at home to prevent your basement from flooding, however. The INTACT centre guide on flood-proofing your home lists many strategies that can be useful to prevent damage to your home.

    Here are some examples of cost-effective flood protection measures:

    • Clean out storm drains, eavestroughs and water valves of debris to allow for clear drainage and flow.
    • Check for leaks in plumbing fixtures to prevent inside leaks.
    • Test your sump pump to ensure it is working properly and have a back-up sump pump system in place.
    • Install window well covers as well as water-resistant windows.
    • Extend downspouts and sump pipes two meters away from the home’s foundation to prevent the possibility of flooding.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt and increase resilience to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith Caspell, Bradley May, Sam Gauthier & Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Grape Rootstock in a Changing Environment

    A diagram representing the rootstock (the root portion of a single, healthy plant), scion (the young shoot of a different plant) and the junction where they are artificially united (graft union; diagram created by Heather VanVolkenburg).


    Managing vineyards can be challenging to say the least, especially with the added complexity of extreme environmental changes, both between and within growing seasons. In order maintain a productive vineyard, growers have several key components that they must consider when planning for vine establishment and maintenance. The selection of rootstock is one such component. The types of rootstock may determine how the vines respond to the abiotic and biotic stressors that present-day vineyards face, especially those related to climate change.

    Rootstock are an essential element in most vineyards, including vineyards here in Canada. To obtain a new vine, growers use the root system of one vine (i.e. rootstock) and combine it with a shoot from another one (i.e. scion). Each component can be from a different species of grapevine or even several species combined. Rootstock choices enable growers to select for grapevines that are more resistant to environmental adversities such as drought or disease, thus allowing for maintained or increased vine productivity Moreover, rootstock selection helps to overcome problems with soil such as texture, pH and density. While rootstock is normally selected for below-ground performance and resistance to challenges such as drought and disease (both of which occur more frequently due to effects of climate change), scions are usually chosen according to control above-ground aspects such as vine vigour, how quickly grapes ripen, fruit size, quality, and overall yield. In a simple way, the new plant has the best parts of two different plants!

    The selection of a rootstock can be quite complex. For example, if the vineyard is located in an area prone to flooding, consideration should be given to a rootstock’s ability to survive in this condition. The type of soil will also influence this selection. Other considerations may be related to resistance to certain pests or viruses. Selection considerations must constantly evolve as agroecosystems are constantly changing according the environment in which they exist. With the changing climate, especially extreme weather events, selection becomes even more challenging.

    Considering how closely existing rootstock choices interact with other management strategies (e.g. irrigation and cover cropping), defining good practices for local vineyards remains important. Here at Brock, we embrace the opportunity to work alongside vineyard growers to examine how integrated management techniques can help strengthen the sustainability of the industry. In our project, using organic vineyards as study locations, we are testing different combinations of three components of vineyard management, including irrigation, cover cropping and rootstock or their combined viability as local management techniques. By monitoring grapevine yields and growth, as well as disease and pest occurrence over consecutive seasons, we hope to evaluate how climate change may be affecting the different rootstocks and vine varieties present locally. Ultimately, we hope that results will contribute to maintain production of local grape growers in a sustainable way despite the challenges presented by climate change.

    This blog will be ongoing throughout the duration of the project with monthly updates provided by Liette Vasseur, Heather VanVolkenburg, Kasia Zgurzynski, Habib Ben Kalifa, and Diana Tosato (see research team). We will be providing research activity updates as well as informative pieces that delve into agricultural concepts and important global issues as they relate to agricultural sustainability and climate change. Stay tuned for regular updates!

     

    Categories: Organic Science Cluster 3 Blog

  • Climate data and trends in the Greater Niagara Region

    A graph from climatedata.ca that illustrates the rising mean temperature from the years 1950-2100 under a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5). This increase in mean temperature can lead to negative impacts for agriculture, coastal communities and the overall health of individuals in the Niagara Region.


     In a previous blog post, we discussed how to take initiative towards adapting to and mitigating (reducing) the effects of climate change. However, before we can discuss specific methods of actually doing so, it is important to first understand the historical and predicted future climate trends in the Greater Niagara Region.

    A great tool for understanding climate trends across Canada is the publicly accessible website climatedata.ca. It provides climate data that helps individuals, communities and governments better understand historical climate data and make informed decisions for a more resilient Canada in the future. The website provides past, present and current climate trends for multiple locations in Canada. The data can be analysed on a broader provincial level or drilled down to look at specific municipalities or townships. Specific climate variables, such as temperature, precipitation, frost days and growing days, are also available. This information can be extremely valuable when trying to plan adaptation and mitigation measures in your community, for infrastructure, on farmland and even at your own personal residence. For example, frost days (number of days where the temperature drops below 0˚C) are particularly important in the Greater Niagara Region as the agricultural sector is a main economic driver for the area.

    The website generates graphs of climatic trends under three future greenhouse gas emission scenarios, also known as representative concentration pathways (RCPs). These RCPs were generated by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). RCPs represent the degree of warming of an area or location (translated in watts per square meter) under different scenarios. Those scenarios range from acting rapidly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to not acting at all and keeping a business-as-usual way of life. They include a low emission scenario (RCP2.6), moderate emissions scenario (RCP4.5) and high emissions scenario (RCP8.5). The RCP2.6 scenario leads to the least warming and reflects a future that uses immediate efforts to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RCP4.5 models a future in which some mitigation of emissions prevents the extreme warming of the high emissions scenario of RCP8.5. Analysing the high emissions scenario (RCP8.5) on the website allows you to understand and prepare for the worst-case scenario when dealing with climatic trends. Unfortunately, due to trends and behaviours we are currently seeing in Canada, such as increases in population, pollution, and deforestation (among others), the RCP8.5 scenario may become the most probable one.

    We used the website to find data about the Niagara Region under a high emission scenario (RCP8.5). Using the website, the climatic trends reported for this area show that the annual average temperature in the region was between 8.4 ºC and 9 ºC between 1951 and 2020. Under a high emissions scenario, annual average temperatures are projected to be 10.9 ºC by 2050, 12.9 ºC by 2080, and will continue to rise above 14.3 ºC by 2100. Average annual precipitation in the region was historically 866 mm. Under a high emissions scenario, this is projected to be 7% higher by 2050, 10% higher by 2080 and by 2100.

    Rising temperatures and precipitation rates can have a significant impact on agriculture, coastal communities and the overall health of individuals in the Niagara Region. Over time, climate change has become more severe and in order to take initiative and make change, we must adapt and mitigate so we can slow or stop these trends from climbing.

    It is important to note that these climatic trends are projections, meaning they are just a model and may not be 100% accurate. However, they do provide guidance as to what the future may hold for our region. With a proper understanding of the potential climatic changes Niagara could be facing, it allows us to be more prepared and create more efficient adaptation and mitigation plans. In upcoming blogs, we will discuss strategies that can be used to manage these projected climatic changes and how we can initiate change.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt and increase resilience to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith Caspell, Bradley May, Sam Gauthier & Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

     

     

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Vineyards and Heavy Rainfall

    Standing pools of water in a local Niagara vineyard, days after heavy rainfall in October of 2020 in a local vineyard (Photo taken by Len Van Hoffen).


    A flooded vineyard is not a strange view for Niagara region inhabitants, particularly after a heavy rainfall event. In recent years, this has been seen more frequently in late winter and spring. Heavy rainfalls are considered extreme weather events that are projected to occur more frequently because of climate change. With more frequent torrential downpours, vineyards are often subjected to periods of waterlogging. The meteorological service of Canada defines a heavy rainfall event as 50 mm of rain in less than a 12-hour period. Soil type, volume of precipitation and management practices can all be determinant factors for how long water will remain in the field, as well as how much it will affect the soil and vines. Flood conditions in vineyards can cause both short and long-term challenges for vineyard managers.

    A flooded vineyard usually leads to relatively soft, muddy soil, making management activities difficult. In fact, soggy conditions often prevent mechanical management from happening as the soft vineyard soil cannot support heavy equipment without causing soil compaction. Soil compaction is when the soil gets compressed to a point where normal processes such as water movement or plant root growth through the soil becomes limited. In the spring, it is not uncommon for between-row sowing of cover crops in the vineyard to be delayed or skipped entirely depending on how long the vineyard is under water. Sometimes, standing water can even mean that growers may have to delay their harvest; thus leaving the berries on the vine for a longer period of time and potentially affecting wine quality.

    Soil runoff is another management challenge in vineyards during periods of heavy rainfalls that cause soil degradation and nutrient loss. Vineyards located on steep slopes can be more prone to this phenomenon, with water running faster and bringing soil sediments, as well. Managers will often plant a cover crop in an attempt to mitigate this challenge.

    A waterlogged soil can become what is known as anaerobic, which means that there is less oxygen available in the soil for plants and other important organisms to thrive. Less oxygen can result in root damage and even plant mortality, ultimately resulting in reduced berry quality and yield.

    Some wine growers have found that yields following a flooded year are drastically lower than years with less heavy rainfall. In flood conditions, vine plants tend to devote energy to bud formation and canopy growth rather than forming fruits, hence less berries and smaller clusters. Furthermore, heavy rains close to harvest can injure ripened berries through the force of drops hitting the outer skin and exposing the swollen fruit contents. This causes them to become more susceptible to rot and disease and will not only decrease the yield, but potentially the wine quality, as well.

    Heavy rainfall can have other indirect effects for vineyard managers. Too much moisture has the tendency to increase disease pressure in seasons following floods. Too much rain, combined with warm temperatures, can produce the perfect condition for fungal diseases like mildew, botrytis, and other rots to develop. High precipitation can also speed up the spread of fungus that has overwintered within vineyard soils in the form of spores. Fungal spores can be lifted from the ground all the way to the canopy, essentially hitchhiking on the splash of raindrops, or carried to other parts of the vineyard through runoff.

    During times of drought, rain can be good news for any crop — and vines are no exception. But, as we have seen, heavy rains and extended flood conditions can have numerous negative effects on vineyard management, plants and ultimately, the whole agroecosystem. To minimize the impact of waterlogging within vineyards, some management practices can be applied. These may include the installation of efficient draining systems, mechanical pump removal of water or deep tilling of the soil every 4 to 5 years. However, working with mother nature by introducing between-row cover crop varieties that respond well to flood conditions may be a grower’s best bet in mitigating these extreme weather events. Thinking back to the most recent blog on the effects of drought in vineyards, it becomes apparent that water management can be a delicate balancing act for managers. Researching how vineyard systems respond to extreme weather events can help growers adapt and choose optimal management strategies thereby enhancing their vineyards resilience and sustainability.

    This blog will be ongoing throughout the duration of the project with bi-weekly updates provided by Liette Vasseur, Heather VanVolkenburg, Kasia Zgurzynski, Habib Ben Kalifa, and Diana Tosato (See Research Team). We will be providing research activity updates as well as informative pieces that delve into agricultural concepts and important global issues as they relate to agricultural sustainability and climate change. Stay tuned for regular updates!

     

    Categories: Organic Science Cluster 3 Blog

  • Calls for action for climate change and how to take initiative

    Using public transportation or riding your bike can help reduce the impacts of climate change. At the Google offices in San Fransisco, for example, bicycles are provided to employees to use as transportation. Photo: Sam Gauthier.


    As our world warms, extreme weather events are projected to increase in frequency and/or intensity, both here in Canada and around the world. At the same time, sea levels are rising, prolonged droughts are putting pressure on food crops, and many animal and plant species are being threatened with extinction.

    It’s hard to imagine what we, as individuals, can do to resolve a problem of this scale and severity. However, there are actually many ways that we can take initiative and help mitigate the impacts of climate change: by assessing and altering our behaviour and the way we react to certain situations; through adaptation and making adjustments, decision making and transformation related to climate change problems; and through mitigation, which reduces the severity of climate change impacts.

    A great place to start is by participating in conversations about climate. Solving climate change requires us to work together, and there are many schools, businesses, youth groups and other volunteer organizations that are already taking action and working towards change for the future.  By getting involved with some of these groups, you can engage in ongoing conversations about climate that will help broaden your knowledge on climate topics. This will then allow you to initiative and engage in future conversations about climate, sharing what you have learned with others.

    Another behavioural change is to focus on how you travel. Using public transportation or riding your bike can help reduce the impacts of climate change by reducing gasoline consumption and the emissions that gas-powered vehicles produce. Altering other activities, including around your home, can also help you adapt to climate change by using energy more wisely, which in turn helps to reduce the impacts of climate change. These strategies include mitigating the effects of climate change and greenhouse gases (GHG’s) by installing solar panels or “wrapping” windows to make them more energy efficient.

    Taking initiative and making changes is both good for the environment and helps to ensure a safe and cost-effective home. To adapt properly, it is important to do some research about how climate change is most directly impacting your region, such as how the temperature is changing and the specific precipitation and windstorm events. A great website to see projected changes in our climate is climatedata.ca. We will be talking about this website in next week’s blog post.

    Climate change presents challenges for everyone and in order to reduce these risks we must adapt. Change begins with us, and there are many opportunities for individuals to adapt to these risks right in our own homes. In our upcoming blogs posts, we will discuss specific adaptation such as naturalizing your yard so it absorbs more water, retrofitting your home to better handle floods and using stronger, hail-resistant building materials.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt and increase resilience to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith Caspell, Bradley May, Sam Gauthier & Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Drought stress in vineyards

    Mid-summer drought conditions in a local Niagara vineyard can present problems not only with the vines, but also with cover crop establishment below the vines (photo: Heather VanVolkenburg).


    Nowadays, we have to face the reality of climate change. In the Niagara Region, heat waves and extended dry periods are projected to become more frequent during the growing season (July to August). Like almost all agricultural activities, viticulture (grape growing) is highly dependent on climatic conditions, meaning that such changes are increasingly making vineyard management more challenging. Drought conditions can ultimately lead to economic losses due to decreases in production and/or wine quality, for example, and understanding how vineyard managers have learned to adapt to extreme periods of drought will help to support a more sustainable system overall.

    Droughts are defined as a combination of both high temperatures and a lack of water. Extended periods of drought affect the vineyard in many ways. First, it can negatively affect the grapes’ yield by inhibiting the amount of plant photosynthesis, leading to reduced berry development if the decrease occurs early in the growing season. In addition, heat waves can drastically decrease the number of berries and clusters formed. Extended temperatures above 30°C may also result in pauses in the vine’s ability to acquire nutrients from the soil. If this happens, wine produced from those grapes may end up with high alcohol and pH levels that leave them unbalanced or “flabby.” This results in an increased risk of spoilage as well as wines with poor colour and aroma profiles. Extended dry periods may also result in changes to the soil structure — making the soil hard and clumpy, especially in clay soils ­— thus becoming more difficult to manage. Dry soil is also more prone to wind erosion due to its dusty texture.

    One of the less obvious challenges linked to drought stress is that stressed grapevines tend to attract more grape pest species. A stressed plant will have a weakened immune system, making it incapable of properly defending itself against pest attacks. Spider mites are one such species that may increase in abundance during dry periods, potentially inflicting further damage to the already stressed vines. How moisture, or lack thereof, in the vineyard is managed matters, and it is crucial for growers to understand the balance between not having enough and having too much.

    To continue the production of high-quality wines at economically accepted yields in a dryer and warmer climate, growers need to apply adaptive strategies. The choice of vine cultivars, rootstocks and adequate training systems are crucial for drought adaptation. In addition, combining other management techniques such as cover cropping and irrigation can help vineyards adapt to extreme drought conditions. Understanding how different drought management techniques work together is one of the key elements in our research and our work is to help farmers choose the best combination of management techniques that will optimize the sustainability of production at the local scale.

    This blog will be ongoing throughout the duration of the project with bi-weekly updates provided by Liette Vasseur, Heather VanVolkenburg, Kasia Zgurzynski, Habib Ben Kalifa, and Diana Tosato (see research team). We will be providing research activity updates as well as informative pieces that delve into agricultural concepts and important global issues as they relate to agricultural sustainability and climate change. Stay tuned for regular updates!

     

    Categories: Organic Science Cluster 3 Blog

  • Vasseur chairs session at York University’s Global Sustainable and Inclusive Internationalization Virtual Conference

    Liette Vasseur, UNESCO Chair on Community Sustainability: From Local to Global and President, Canadian Commission for UNESCO, has been chosen as the Chair for a session at the Global Sustainable and Inclusive Internationalization Virtual Conference: Reimagining Approaches in Higher Education in an era of Global Uncertainties. Hosted by York University, the conference will bring together scholars, policymakers, sustainability experts and other key stakeholders.

    Vasseur will chair Plenary Session 2: Student & professional mobility 2030 and beyond: transferability of degrees, credit transfer, refugees and immigrants
    on Thursday, January 21 at 9:30 a.m.

    Plenary Topic:
    What are the grand challenges for higher education having a mobile student community and workforce today and in the future? How can universities/colleges help create welcoming structures in receiving societies? Who is winning and who is losing through this global mobility?

    Speakers:
    Dr. Ethel Valenzuela,
     Director, Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Secretariat, Thailand
    Fabio Nascimbeni, Senior Expert, UNIMED – Mediterranean Universities Union, Italy
    Sjur Bergan, Head of Education Department, Council of Europe, Belgium

    Read more about the conference

    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • Understanding irrigation techniques in vineyards

    Drip-irrigation being applied to a Niagara vineyard in late summer (photo: Kasia Zgurzynski).


    Water is essential in viticulture. How much water is made available to the vines is extremely important as it directly affects both yield and fruit quality. While rainfall is the least labour intensive and costly method of obtaining water, changes in climatic patterns can make dependence on rainfall alone a challenge. In years of prolonged drought and heat waves, water is often at a deficit, meaning that vines may not get enough water to grow properly or even to survive, depending on when this happens during the growing season. Irrigation is a solution to mitigate water stress in the vineyard.

    Irrigation is a technique by which a controlled amount of water is applied to plants. The main goal of irrigation in grape production is to apply the required quantity of water throughout the vineyard, at the correct time, so that vines do not suffer from water stress. There are several methods that can be used in irrigation, and the method chosen depends on vineyard needs such as the size of the field, topography, type of vine, etc. The three main irrigation types used in vineyards are surface irrigation, sprinkler irrigation and micro-irrigation.

    Surface irrigation, also called flood irrigation, is the oldest irrigation method that was predominately used by farmers in the past. This technique includes flooding the field so that the water moves across the surface of the vineyard and infiltrates the soil. This method is less expensive than other irrigation systems as the equipment needed is minimal and it relies on gravity for water infiltration. However, it is difficult to control uniformity in the amount of water dispersed across the field using this method. This may potentially lead to over-watered vines as well as a high amount of water being wasted due to evaporation and runoff.

    In the sprinkler irrigation technique, water from pipes that are, usually, buried underground is distributed through high-pressure sprinklers attached to pipes in various sections of the vineyard. This method is often seen in our local surroundings in the Niagara region, since it is also used to irrigate places such as gardens, parks, and football fields. This technique is more expensive than surface irrigation, but it presents a dual benefit as the equipment can also be used to reduce vine damage from frost in spring and fall. However, it is still not the best method for delivering a precise amount of water to each vine. Furthermore, even though it is better than flood irrigation in controlling waste, there is still water lost due to evaporation using this method, since the water is sprayed upwards and through the air before reaching the soil.

    Micro-irrigation, also called drip irrigation, is a method where water is distributed through distribution lines in a small, pre-determined amount to each plant in a field. Because water is delivered in a small amount and directly to each vine, evaporation and runoff are minimized. This method is the most water efficient, but it is also the most expensive. It requires the installation of a distribution system composed of a network of pipes, distribution lines, and pressure regulators. A water filtration system is also needed to prevent debris from clogging the distribution lines.

    The key to successful implementation of vineyard irrigation is to provide just enough water for the vine. In regions with low rainfall, for example, irrigation is necessary during the summer, since the vines need water most during the early stages of the growing season and during the dry seasons. After fruiting starts, irrigation must be minimized as vines need to go through a period of water stress to develop smaller grapes (thus, increasing the skin to juice ratio). However, if the water stress period is too extreme, some irrigation may still be needed. The goal is to achieve an equilibrium: neither too much water nor severe and prolonged drought. Therefore, vineyard managers need to consider how irrigation affects, and is in turn affected, by other management components applied to the system.

    In the Organic Science Cluster 3 project here at Brock University, we aim to explore sustainable management approaches to help grape growers adapt to climate change. Using organic vineyards as study locations, we are testing different combinations of three important vineyard management components: T– irrigation, cover cropping, and rootstock performance. Ultimately, our results will help us to understand how different options may support production despite the challenges presented by climate change.

    This blog will be ongoing throughout the duration of the project with bi-weekly updates provided by Liette Vasseur, Heather VanVolkenburg, Kasia Zgurzynski, Habib Ben Kalifa, and Diana Tosato (see research team). We will be providing research activity updates as well as informative pieces that delve into agricultural concepts and important global issues as they relate to agricultural sustainability and climate change. Stay tuned for regular updates!

    Categories: Organic Science Cluster 3 Blog

  • New publication: New pathways for teaching and learning: the posthumanist approach

    How can we engage all teachers and learners in thinking, feeling and being responsible for ourselves, one another, and the planet? In the new paper, New pathways for teaching and learning: the posthumanist approach, written by  Fiona Blaikie, Christine Daigle and Liette Vasseur, the authors explore embracing a posthumanist pedagogy and returning to holistic, ancestral and Indigenous ways of knowing.

    From the paper’s introduction:

    “How does one “posthuman” teach another? Applying a posthumanist approach to education involves rethinking pedagogy, knowledge production and dissemination. If there is a need to understand the world differently, we must “defamiliarize [our] mental habits” (Braidotti 2019, 77) by moving away from a humanist worldview. This worldview has not only shaped our thoughts, but also our institutions. Universities and education systems are structured around binaried teacher-learner relationships, as well as seeing disciplines and school subjects as discrete entitites with their own objects and methods of study and practices. What changes must we bring about so that we can imagine and understand the world and ourselves in new ways? A posthuman approach can change the way we value ourselves, other species, the planet, and beyond. It requires thinking about the system as a whole instead of each agent as a perfect independent entity; it requires valuing all agents and their relationality.”

    The paper was prepared for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and can be found on its website. 
    You can also download the paper here .

    Categories: Updates of the Chair