Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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University Aged Millennials' Attitudes and Perceptions Toward Vehicle Ownership and Car Sharing
Car-sharing may have the potential to contribute to a more sustainable transportation system. The current research sought to answer the question: what are university-aged Millennials' perceptions and attitudes toward the adoption of vehicle sharing and private vehicle ownership? The research consisted of hosting six interactive focus group sessions with Millennial students, who currently do not own vehicles. Using a qualitative approach, I analyzed the discussions through a social practice theory lens. I suggest that skills, meanings, materials, and social interactions have an influence on the way in which a transportation option is perceived by Millennials. The results revealed that social norms surrounding vehicle ownership and car sharing are being developed, shaped, changed, challenged and reconstructed. If car-sharing businesses, universities, and governments wish to progress toward a more sustainable transportation system, they should recognize the importance of marketing. Author Keywords: Car ownership, Car sharing, Millennials, Sustainability, Transportation, University
Something out of Nothing? Place-based Resilience in Rural Canadian Youth
This dissertation explored how rural communities enhance the capacity of youth to both navigate and negotiate healthy identities and well-being in the context of social ecological resilience. Resilience refers to the capacity for individuals to have good outcomes in spite of exposure to significant adversity. Rural communities are often identified as places of deficit both in scholarly literature and in general social discourse which can constitute adversity. Given the importance of place as a social determinant of health, rural communities can have a notable impact on the positive development of adolescent identity and well-being of the youth that reside within them. Drawing on the concept of social ecological resilience which draws attention to the importance of environments and relationships to support development, this project engaged with high school aged adolescents (14 to 18 years old) from Haliburton County in Central Ontario. Leveraging mixed model methods, the project featured both quantitative and qualitative approaches. There were 63 participants (33 male, 28 female and 2 non-binary) for the quantitative phase of the research which made use of the Child and Youth Resilience Measure survey instrument. The second phase of the research was qualitative and featured 14 participants who engaged in six focus groups. The focus groups provided context specific awareness of place-based factors which participants found supportive in their development. The results indicated that while the overall resilience scores for the community were lower than the national average (t(62) = 3.20, p <0.01), some study participants found the community to be resilience bolstering. Specifically, participants recognized the importance of supportive people, an awareness of an enriched sense of community, and a powerful sense of the value of nature and the outdoors to be the most significant aspects for the development of their resilience. The results indicate that rural youth are not naïve to the complexity of their circumstances but are able to use their rural contexts to develop the capacity to negotiate and navigate towards healthy identities and well-being. Author Keywords: Adolescent, Place-based, Resilience, Rural, Social Ecological, Youth
Role of Policy in Arctic Food (In)Security
Hunger is a significant concern in Canada, and even more so in the North, with 52% of Inuit adults in Arctic regions experiencing some level of food insecurity in 2012. Policy deficiencies are argued to, at the least, be partly responsible for this issue. This qualitative exploratory project aimed to answer the question: What is the role of food-related policy(ies) in household food security? A review and analysis of policy documents and academic literature at three jurisdictional levels, using the case of food insecurity in Nunavik, Québec, was conducted. The study identified 281 policies facilitating and 139 policies acting as barriers to food security. The highest proportion (27%) of facilitators related to economic accessibility of food and the highest proportion of barriers (93%) related to political accessibility of food. Only one previously identified factor influencing household food security in the region had a corresponding policy barrier associated with it. The study suggests that what is considered ‘food policy’ differs significantly between jurisdictions. Many of the same policies that act to facilitate some aspects of food security act as barriers to others. Policy barriers tend to be difficult to identify by their very nature. As a result, policy plays a complicated role in Nunavik food security status, representing a positive influence in some regards and a negative one in others. Author Keywords: Arctic, Food, Food security, Inuit, Nunavik, Policy
Opportunities for Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage in Building Materials
The “upfront” embodied carbon (EC) of building materials includes the accumulated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from harvesting, manufacturing and transportation processes, and is becoming more widely recognized as a major source of global GHGs. The aim of this study is to demonstrate the potential for buildings to go beyond reduced or zero GHG emissions and to become– at least temporarily – a negative emissions technology, namely places of net storage of carbon. The study examines the EC for two samples of low-rise residential buildings that are representative of the North American wood-framed typology: a single-unit raised bungalow of 185m2 and an eight-unit, four-story of 935 m2. Data from Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for a wide variety of materials that could feasibly be used to construct the sample buildings are used to calculate the total EC for four different material assemblies in each building type: High EC, Typical EC, Best Conventional EC and Best EC. Results demonstrate the upfront embodied carbon can vary widely, ranging from a worst-case scenario of 415 kgCO2e/m2 of net emissions to a best case of 170 kgCO2e/m2 of net carbon storage by using biogenic (plant-based) materials. In addition, an energy modeling analysis of the buildings was conducted for the Toronto, Ontario climate to compare the EC with the operational carbon (OC) emissions. The results show that achievable reductions in EC could provide more than four times the overall GHG reductions than energy efficiency improvements to reduce OC between 2020 and 2050. The building model with both the lowest EC and OC is shown to have net carbon storage for several centuries. At the current scale of US residential construction, annual carbon storage in residential buildings as modeled could reach 30,000,000 tonnes, the equivalent of 10 coal-fired power plants. The immediate impact of large-scale GHG reductions from the use of carbon-storing materials is demonstrated to be worthy of consideration for the building industry and related policy makers. Author Keywords: Biogenic carbon, Carbon accounting, Embodied carbon, Energy efficiency, Life cycle analysis, Operation emissions
Motivating Policy Responses to Climate Change
This research investigates urban climate governance through a case study of climate change adaptation policy making in the Canadian municipality of Vancouver, British Columbia (BC). It investigates the context in which the City of Vancouver was motivated to develop its climate change adaptation strategy (CCAS) by exploring the motivating factors and drivers behind the formulation of this plan. The research approach involved content analysis of policy documents underlying the CCAS as well as interviews with key politicians and policy makers familiar with the strategy. I conceptualize the development of the CCAS using Kingdon's Multiple Streams Framework, leading me to conclude that the convergence of three streams, namely: 1) knowledge of local climate change impacts and their cost to city assets, 2) political leadership and 3) green policy coordination in the City of Vancouver, created an opportunity that was seized upon by policy champions to address adaptation. Author Keywords: adapting cities to climate change, climate change adaptation policy, climate change adaptation policy formulation, local climate governance, municipal adaptation plan, urban climate governance
Investigation of fugitive dust emissions from nepheline syenite mine tailings near Nephton, Ontario
A set of experiments was designed to investigate the factors—atmospheric and surficial—controlling fugitive dust emissions from the tailings ponds of UNIMIN Canada, a mining company that extracts and produces nepheline syenite (feldspar) at two adjacent sites (Nephton and Blue Mountain) located north of Havelock, Ontario. Using wind tunnel measurements, the combined influence of relative humidity and temperature (represented by the absolute matric potential, |Ψ|) on dust emission was quantified and modelled. About 300 experimental runs were conducted under various conditions of wind speed (4.5-6.25 ms-1), temperature (0-30oC) and relative humidity (10-70%). Generally, dust flux decreased as a logarithmic function of matric potential, with dust emission strongly suppressed for RH > 60% or |Ψ|<70 MPa. Field measurements also confirmed the role of relative humidity in suppressing dust emission. Irrigation, which is widely used by mines to control dust emissions, reduced ambient dust concentration at the study site only about 60% of the time, with the highest mitigation efficiencies (average of 90%) occurring when the total depth of water applied intermittently over a few hours was greater than 10 mm. In the absence of emergent vegetation, the terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) technique proved to be a promising method for detecting and estimating both spatial and temporal moisture content changes in the field environment, particularly for the very thin surface layer, which is the most important layer for dust emission. It is hoped that the results from this study will help mines to optimize their dust management programs for the range of climate and topographic conditions found at their sites, and also serve as a source of useful information and input data for atmospheric dispersion models, such as AERMOD and CALPUFF, whose accuracy depends on the quality of the input data such as the emission rate. Author Keywords: dust mitigation efficiency, Fugitive dust, nepheline syenite, relative humidity, tailings, terrestrial laser scanning
Investigation of Air Recirculation and Thermal Efficiency within a Climate Controlled Passage
Historically, entrances have been used for passage between two separate temperature environments, such as moving from inside to outside of a building. Energy loss through entrances is a cause for concern, as it has been known to increase energy consumption to replace the lost energy; and with the exchange of air masses and cold air entering the building, human discomfort may occur. In this research, thermal efficiency and air circulation within a Conventional Entrance (CE) and Climate Controlled Passage (CCP) are compared. A small scale model of the CE and CCP was constructed to examine forty-eight energy exchange conditions, emulating those found through an entrance between a temperature controlled lab and the model. Instruments such as a power meter, a flow explorer laser Doppler anemometer, and thermocouples were used to measure and compare the energy consumption, velocity vectors, and temperature energy within the entrance. Results indicate that the CCP did retain thermal energy compared to the CE. The CE developed sloped isotherm lines and air flow that enabled and maintained thermal exhaust. Conversely, the CCP developed horizontal isotherm lines and a two-layer density current to recirculate and retain thermal energy. The research demonstrates that it is possible to increase energy efficiency of entrances in many applications. Author Keywords: Air Recirculation, Building, Entrance, Oven, Thermal Energy Efficiency, Two-layer Density Current
Hoop Dance Project
This dissertation explores a 2017 elementary school Hoop Dance project that was organized by a white music teacher, and taught by an Indigenous artist in Peterborough, Ontario. It aims to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, numbers 10 and 63, which ask the federal government to sufficiently fund legislation that incorporates the following principles: “… developing culturally appropriate curricula” (p. 2), and “building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect” (p. 7). The dissertation asks the question: In what ways will a seven-week Indigenous Hoop Dance Unit, taught by an Indigenous performing artist and facilitated by a white school teacher, contribute to reconciliation in an elementary school classroom in Ontario? I am the teacher in this study and have worked at this elementary school for five years. Throughout the project, I acted as facilitator, participant, and researcher, while Indigenous dancer and instructor Beany John planned and delivered the Hoop Dance content. Theoretically, the dissertation is organized around the Anishinabek seven grandmother/grandfather teachings, as taught by Ojibwe/Odawa educator and author Pamela Toulouse (2011). I believe that these seven traditional teachings are a meaningful basis upon which to build the project, not only because they inform Indigenous knowledge in the arts, but also because frequent reflection and referral to the teachings help remind me to remain connected to the “higher” purpose of the research throughout the project, which is to further the reconciliation process in Canada, and more broadly, to benefit society. Regarding methodology, I use arts based research (Leavy, 2015) and a constructivist grounded theory analysis, which embraces the subjectivity and positionality of the researcher (Creswell, 2012). The overall conclusion of the dissertation is that although the Hoop Dance project did not significantly address issues of Indigenous sovereignty in education nor our shared inherited legacy of colonial harm, it was a constructive step in the reconciliation project, largely due to the contributions of Beany John, whose teaching gently unsettled conventional educational practice at our school. Author Keywords: Arts Education, Hoop Dance, Indigenous Education, Indigenous Peoples, Settler Colonialism, Truth and Reconciliation
Ground-truthing effective population size estimators using long-term population data from inland salmonid populations
Effective population size (Ne) is a foundational concept in conservation biology, in part due to its relationship to the adaptive potential of populations. Although Ne is often estimated for wild populations, it is rarely calibrated against actual population estimates (Nc) other than to produce Ne/Nc ratios. This project used demographic and genetic data for from two intensively-studied populations of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in Ontario’s Experimental Lake Area (ELA) as baseline data for evaluating the performance of multiple Ne estimators. Several temporal and single-time (point) genetic methods of estimating Ne were compared against demographic Ne estimates and known population data, as well as variation and consistency within and among Ne estimators. Changes in genetic Ne estimates over time were also compared to changes in demographic structure and fluctuating census estimates, including the effect of an experimentally manipulated population bottleneck on demographic and genetic Ne estimates during population reduction and recovery. Sampling years that included the most pre-, during and post-bottleneck data revealed the lowest estimates using temporal estimators (Ne = 16 to 18) despite pre- and post-bottleneck census estimates of 591 and 565. Estimation of Ne had increasingly tighter confidence intervals as sample sizes approached the actual number of breeding individuals in each population. Performance differences among the tested estimators highlight their potential biases and reliance on different assumptions, illustrating their potential value and caveats for assessing adaptive potential of wild populations. Author Keywords: Effective Population Size, Experimental Lakes Area, Fish Population Assessment, Lake Trout, Population Demographics, Population Genetics
Enhancing interpretive trails with technology
Enhancing interpretive trails with smartphone technology may enrich the visitor’s educational experience by stimulating deeper engagement and enjoyment that will improve immediate knowledge and help promote the development of environmental literacy. This connection between technology and environmental education can only be considered successful if enhanced enrichment and educational value is found in the integration. Currently there is a substantial gap in research on the incorporation of technology into an interpretive trail experience. For this study, information on the local fauna and flora was produced and linked to Quick Response Codes (QR codes) installed along an outdoor trail. The QR codes were designed to be read using the participant’s personal smartphone. Immediately after completing the trail participants could volunteer to describe their smartphone-led experience through a self-administered cross-sectional questionnaire offered in hard copy at the study site. A non-experimental quantitative research methodology was employed to evaluate the survey data and determine the educational and enjoyment value of the experience. This research is of potential benefit to educators of science, technology and the environment. The research may also assist parks and recreation facilities wishing to offset the costs of building and maintaining traditional interpretive trails by eliminating the need for the printing of booklets, maps and signage. Author Keywords: education, environment, interpretive trails, science, smartphone technology
Energy Resilience in Northern Communities
This project examines the factors for success of alternative energy initiatives in remote northern Indigenous communities, and the link between northern community energy and resilience. The case study, in the Gwich’in village of Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, focuses upon a biomass boiler district heating project that provides renewable heat fuelled by local wood chips, and the willow harvesting initiative that supports it. Data was collected by interviews and participant observation in Fort McPherson and Yellowknife, and by analysis of resilience, community energy, and biomass literature. Success factors identified include the importance of aligning energy systems with local cultural identity, traditional values and connection to landscape, values often under-represented in financially-driven energy decisions. Autonomy and self-reliance are shown to be critical factors in northern community energy decisions, related to well-being, pride in place and enhanced resilience. Community resilience is revealed as a key component of northern community energy success. Author Keywords: Energy, Indigenous, Northern, Renewable, Resilience, Sustainable
Emerging Dynamic Social Learning Theory of a Learning Community of Practice
In current knowledge-based economy, knowledge might be viewed as the most valuable organizational resource in sustaining any organization. Organizational knowledge originates from cognitive learning by individuals situated within organizations. In organizational learning, situated learning of knowledge by individuals is shared to create sustainable organizational competency. Yet, there is inadequate research to understand how situated learning operates as a social learning system within Community of Practice (‘CoP’). Through a case study of a multi-level, non-profit CoP in Ontario, Canada, this qualitative explanatory research contributes to the extant literature by building a unique theoretical framework that provides conceptual insights on linkages between organizational knowledge, social learning system, and organizational competency, in sustaining the organizational CoP. Using Straussian grounded theory methodology, qualitative primary data from in-depth interviews, participant observations, and documents were triangulated and analysed abductively to reveal an emerging dynamic knowledge-based social learning theory towards explaining how situated learning sustains this learning CoP. Author Keywords: Community of Practice, Grounded Theory, Organizational Knowledge, Organizational Learning, Organizational Sustainability, Situated Learning

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