Articles tagged with: liette vasseur

  • MEOPAR Blog: Mitigation will not be enough: we need to adapt

    Flood waters rise up to the Niagara Rowing School and Paddlesport Centre at the Jordan Harbour Conservation Area, June 2019.

    What is adaptation and why is it important?

    The top scientists around the globe know our climate is changing at a faster rate than Earth has ever experienced—largely as a result of the actions taken by humans since the industrial revolution. This is resulting in changes to the Earth’s natural processes, including our climate, and action needs to be taken to slow down and deal with these changes.

    These actions can take on two different forms: mitigation or adaptation. Mitigation refers to actions taken to slow down climate changes, mainly targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, for example. Adaptation, on the other hand, goes even further: acknowledging that even if we halted 100% of all emissions right now, we will still inevitably see some of the effects of climate change for decades. Adaptation means preparing for the inevitability of these changes by engaging in actions or strategies to better respond to the risks of climate change. Strategies may be either reactive (drying out your basement and preventing mould after you’re have been flooded) or proactive (relocating entirely because your house is getting too close to the shoreline).

    Adaptation actions may include:

    • flood prevention
    • relocation
    • land use changes
    • health programs
    • restoration of shorelines and forests
    • smart building design

    To successfully tackle the complex challenge of climate change, a combination of mitigation and adaptation efforts need to be prioritized by everyone: from federal to municipal governments, as well as local agencies, businesses and community members. Using the Town of Lincoln as a case study, the MEOPAR-Lincoln research project focuses on how communities can adapt to changing environmental conditions, and what will ultimately motivate citizens to get involved and start moving into action.

    A wide range of community voices will be needed to complete this study, as there will be a wide range of impacts to be addressed and strategies to be examined.

    Continue to monitor this page to read new blog posts every week. These posts are written by the MEOPAR Research Team, comprised of Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May and Alex Marino. For more information about the project, contact us using this form, or, via email at

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    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog, Updates of the Chair

  • Deadline nearing for Sustainability Poetry Contest

    Brock’s UNESCO Chair has declared the theme of its annual Sustainability Poetry Contest to be aligned with the ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages.’ Poems are being accepted from everyone in the Niagara region until Feb. 15.

    There’s still time to enter the 2019 Sustainability Poetry Contest, presented by Brock University’s UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability, Liette Vasseur.

    Poets are encouraged to submit their English and French poems that relate to this year’s theme, International Year of Indigenous Languages, until Friday, Feb. 15 at 5 p.m.

    The contest is open to all residents of Niagara (inclusive of members of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and Six Nations), and will operate in co-operation with Indigenous groups and stakeholders across the region.

    Poems can be submitted online by visiting the UNESCO Chair’s website or via email to

    Prizes such as books and gift cards will be awarded in each of four categories: elementary student; high school student; college/university student; and general public.

    Winners will be announced at the UNESCO World Poetry Day celebration at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 21 at Mahtay Café in downtown St. Catharines.

    The event is free and open to the public, but registration will be required as space is limited. Register onEventbrite.

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    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • Students experience sustainability science in the field

    Liette Vasseur, far right, speaks to Master of Sustainability students in the core zone of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve at Brock University.

    Thursday, November 22, 2018 | by 
    From: The Brock News 

    As a group of Brock students recently learned, sustainability science is all around us.

    It can be found along the Niagara Escarpment, in the waste-sorting stations of Guernsey Market and on the properties of the Niagara Parks Commission.

    Students in the Sustainability Science and Society graduate program got a taste of sustainability initiatives in action during a series of field trips in October.

    The Master of Sustainability program has always encouraged students to think critically about the theories behind sustainability science. Developing a sound theoretical understanding is essential, but practical application also plays a major role, said Ryan Plummer, Director of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) and Professor of Foundations of Sustainability Science and Society.

    “We train students to be leaders in sustainability. They need more than just classroom instruction to prepare them to take on leadership positions when they graduate,” Plummer says.

    A series of three field trips added an experiential education component to the program this year, giving students a first-hand look at how sustainability science is implemented on Brock’s main campus and in the wider Niagara community.

    “Sustainability science extends beyond the classroom and the University campus,” says Plummer. “Modifying the curriculum in our foundational course to include an ‘experiencing sustainability’ module enables new ways to connect theory and practice.”

    On the first trip, Liette Vasseur, Professor of Biology and Environmental Science and UNESCO Chair of Community Sustainability, led an outdoor education-based exploration of the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Lisa Gribinicek, Senior Strategic Advisor with the Niagara Escarpment Commission, also spoke with students about the area.

    The second trip focused on sustainability efforts at higher learning institutions and included a tour of Brock’s Central Utilities Building. Scott Johnstone, Associate Vice-President of Facilities Management, and Ryan Stewart, Energy Manager of Maintenance and Utilities Services, demonstrated how current University initiatives contribute to the Brock University Project Charter on environmental sustainability. Students learned how Brock is working towards its goals of low emissions and an overall sustainable campus.

    At Guernsey Market, students visited the waste-sorting area to see what happens behind the scenes to the scraps and recyclable containers left behind after a cafeteria meal. Bryan Boles, Associate Vice-President of Ancillary Services, and Malcolm Dale, Associate Director of Operations, described the sustainability challenges faced in Dining Services.

    The final trip focused on the ESRC’s innovative partnerships with the Town of Lincoln and the Niagara Parks Commission, and included a tour of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.

    “Seeing how the world works outside of the classroom is an invaluable experience,” says Meredith DeCock, a candidate in the Master of Sustainability program.

    Each field trip in the series was “unique and engaging” according to DeCock. “I even presented my research to the Town of Lincoln,” she says.

    Readings and assignments took precedence but, beyond the serious work of learning, there was also time for some fun. In Niagara Falls, students enjoyed the famed Journey Behind the Falls.

    “When an experiential learning session includes a trip to Niagara Falls, you really can’t go wrong,” says DeCock.

    “The thoughtful development and execution of the field study modules is a perfect example of why Brock is such a leader in experiential education,” says Carolyn Finlayson, Experiential Education Co-ordinator for the Faculty of Social Sciences. “Bringing to life course theories and concepts outside the classroom is what we do best.”

    The trips were organized with financial support from a Teaching Learning and Innovation grant.

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    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • Brock researchers to introduce coastal research project to Lincoln residents and stakeholders

    A research project examining how coastal communities can deal with the impacts of climate change will formally launch in the Town of Lincoln this week.

    The town suffered around $1 million in damage as a result of back-to-back spring storms in 2017 that caused massive flooding from Lake Ontario. Announced in May, Brock University Professor and UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability Liette Vasseur is leading a three-year research study that will focus on Lincoln as the Ontario component of a wider project by Université du Québec à Rimouski.

    The local research is being funded through a $280,000 grant from the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR) with additional support from the Town of Lincoln and Brock.

    The Lincoln research will officially be launched on Thursday, Nov. 29 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Fleming Centre in Beamsville. Interested residents and land owners will be able to meet Vasseur and her research team and learn more about how they can participate in the project. There will also be a short discussion to learn more about the experiences of those in attendance around climate change and extreme weather events in the town.

    “Our strong partnership with Brock enables these types of on-the-ground research opportunities, informing and providing evidence-based decisions for our community,” said Town of Lincoln CAO Michael Kirkopoulos.

    Vasseur said she hopes the end result of the research will be sustainable options for the future such as how to help slow down and prevent shoreline erosion or any other impacts on the town.

    “With this project, we want to help the community and the town contribute to solutions and strategies to adapt to climate change,” she said.

    What: MEOPAR Town of Lincoln Research Project Launch

    When: Thursday, Nov. 29, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

    Where: Fleming Centre, Room A, 5020 Serena Dr., Beamsville

    Who: Open to all


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    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • 2019 Sustainability Poetry Contest celebrates International Year of Indigenous Languages

    Language plays a critical role in the daily lives, histories and identities of people around the world.

    Despite the important connections tied to the words we speak, UNESCO has identified more than 2,000 languages spoken by Indigenous peoples around the world that are in serious danger of disappearing.

    In an effort to recognize the important contribution these languages play in our cultural diversity, Brock’s UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability has declared the theme of its annual Sustainability Poetry Contest to be aligned with the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

    Every year, the contest calls for writers from the local community to submit unpublished poems and artwork on themes related to sustainability.

    The contest is open to all residents of Niagara (inclusive of members of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and Six Nations), and will operate in co-operation with Indigenous groups and stakeholders across the region.

    UNESCO Chair Liette Vasseur said the contest will raise awareness about the need to preserve, revitalize and promote Indigenous languages and knowledge around the world.

    “I believe this is one small step that contributes to the sharing of knowledge with and about Indigenous peoples of Canada,” she said. “Their knowledge and languages are essential to understanding where we come from as a society and the sustainability of the environment around us.”

    The contest also seeks to promote the steps being taken by UNESCO, other United Nations agencies and stakeholders around the world to support, access and promote Indigenous languages in co-operation with the people who speak them.

    In Canada, every effort should be made to contribute to the Truth and Reconciliation Call for Action, Vasseur said — and little steps count.

    UNESCO has been celebrating March 21 as World Poetry Day since 1999. The contest uses poetry as a 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.

    Vasseur said this year’s poetry contest has an especially important role to play in the promotion and preservation of linguistic diversity, culture and identity for vulnerable Indigenous communities in Canada.

    Poems can be submitted online until 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15. Click here to submit a poem.

    Prizes such as books and gift cards will be awarded in each of four categories: elementary student; high school student; college/university student; and general public.

    Winners will be announced at the UNESCO World Poetry Day celebration at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 21 at Mahtay Café in downtown St. Catharines. The event is free and open to the public, but registration will be required as space is limited. Register here


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    Categories: Updates of the Chair

  • Vasseur gives words of encouragement on Brock’s Fall Convocation day, is awarded 2018 Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity

    From: The Brock News, Friday, Oct. 12

    Learn something new every day. Volunteer. Don’t let discouragement stop you. Follow your dreams.

    These are some of the life lessons arising from Liette Vasseur’s three decades of study and leadership in the area of environmental sustainability.

    The Brock University Professor of Biology delivered the afternoon address Friday, Oct. 12 as more than 1,000 students graduated during Fall Convocation. She advised the crowd to volunteer in places that may be of interest and learn at least one new thing every day.

    “It is amazing how you will learn, make new contacts and open new doors through these actions. You never know where your path will bring you,” she said.

    Vasseur said passion for “discovery of life” and a desire to help people are what give her the energy to balance her various roles and commitments. She urged the graduates to “embrace life, continue discovering and don’t forget that you are the leaders of tomorrow.”

    Vasseur’s research on ecosystems, biodiversity, sustainable development and community sustainability has taken her from small villages in Ecuador to large-scale farms in China and leadership roles in global institutions. She is the President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability: from Local to Global, and Vice-Chair (North America) and Chair (Ecosystem Governance) of the Commission on Ecosystem Management, International Union for Conservation of Nature.

    “The award is not just mine, but shared with a team of students here in Canada as well as in China and Ecuador,” said Vasseur.Along the way, she has published more than 100 papers, presented at more than 200 events, supervised several dozen students and won many awards. Her latest honour came Friday when she was awarded the 2018 Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity.

    In addition to Vasseur’s honour, also being awarded Friday was Psychology Professor Tim Murphy, who was the recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award. As an active mentor to young academics, he has worked with numerous teaching apprentices and has had six teaching assistants who have gone on to work as instructors at the university level after graduating from Brock. Murphy also won the OUSA Teaching Excellence Award in 2010 and the Faculty of Social Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award in 2017.


    Read the original article in the Brock News here.

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    Categories: Updates of the Chair