Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Older Voluntarism and Rural Community Sustainability
With regards to building knowledge about rural aging, there is a gap in understanding of the diversity of older rural people’s experiences and the interaction between older rural people and the development trajectories of aging rural communities. One way to examine these experiences and interactions is through voluntarism; the activities of volunteers and voluntary organizations, which are pivotal for supporting aging in place in often-underserviced rural communities. To address this gap, this thesis features a community-based case study with a volunteer-based rural library in Ontario, Canada and was aimed at understanding the experiences of older library volunteers, examining the challenges of a rural library volunteer program and exploring how they contribute to rural community sustainability. Through surveys (n=87), interviews (n=48) and focus groups (n=6) with library volunteers, staff, board members and community leaders the findings demonstrate how older voluntarism is felt through the lived experiences of individual volunteers, poses interpersonal, operational and structural challenges, and can potentially contribute to the sustainability of rural communities. The thesis contributes to our understanding of the rural, older voluntarism and provides recommendations for ways to sustain library volunteer programs. Author Keywords:
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
(Re)encountering black bears
This thesis explores the perceptions of human-bear interactions in Ontario, suggesting that they have been shaped by narratives that have roots in colonial perceptions of nonhuman animals. Further, I seek to consider how these interactions could unfold differently if we rethought our relationships and responsibilities to these beings, in particular through an embrace of Indigenous-led conservation informed by ideas of animal welfare. The methods used for this research were first empirical, through qualitative data collection via interviews. Second, it was interpretive, through the observation of bear experiences and through the analysis of circulated and conceptual themes of bear information found in media articles. What emerged was an understanding that the mitigation efforts which are used when human-bear interactions occur are deeply influenced by political, social, and cultural factors that cannot be removed from these matters, asserting that a reconceptualization of current conservation frameworks needs to be considered. Author Keywords: Compassionate conservation, Human-bear interactions, Human-wildlife relations, Indigenous conservation, Narrative inquiry, Wildlife conservation
Managing Through Change
Arctic ecosystems are increasingly altered by climate change, and some wildlife species, like moose, are adapting to these new conditions. Indigenous knowledge and values, such as those held by Inuit, can provide insight into adaptive wildlife management and may improve ecosystem resiliency. This thesis seeks to address the following question: What is the potential role of Indigenous knowledge in managing wildlife under climate change? This thesis follows a qualitative exploratory design involving 1) a systematic literature review of the peer-reviewed literature and 2) a case study on moose in Nunatsiavut in which 35 interviews and participatory mapping were conducted with Inuit beneficiaries. The results demonstrate a range of potential roles for Indigenous knowledge and values in managing species impacted by climate change. The case study of moose in Nunatsiavut has applicability across the Canadian Arctic where the sustainability of harvested species is at risk. Author Keywords: Arctic, climate change, Indigenous knowledge, moose, Nunatsiavut, wildlife management
Art of the Sustainable Street
ABSTRACT The Art of the Sustainable Street Miriam L. R. Mutton The street influences our sense of community every day. It is argued that getting the street right communicates a collective vision for action leading to sustainable community. This investigation continues conversations for community repair and resilient change, especially for small town Ontario. The researcher is informed by ways of seeing inspired by Walter Benjamin’s literary montage, The Arcades Project. By method of collecting and connecting information from literature sources spanning several decades and recent interviews, this thesis demonstrates in narrative form the value to community of everyday street details of human scale. Recurrent themes are adopted as technique in validation. Findings are presented from various perspectives including those of the design professional and the politician. The sustainable street enables communication. Research outcomes indicate knowledge transferred through the art of storytelling supports place-making and connection to community. Fragments of information connect into themes defining safe streets which foster trust among strangers, and facilitate citizenship and good governance. Key words: sustainable community, citizenship, safe streets, Benjamin, governance Author Keywords: Benjamin, citizenship, governance, safe streets, sustainable community
Test for Pluralism
This study intervenes into the debate regarding the definition of pluralism in ecological economics and how that definition affects various characterizations of ecological economics. The methodological pluralist camp argue for the inclusion of neoclassical economics into the ecological economics fold, while the critical pluralist camp argue against the inclusion of neoclassical economics. This study provides a critical exposition of the preanalytical visions of neoclassical and ecological economics that includes their respective ontological and epistemological foundations. Those foundations are critically scrutinized for coherence, realism and relevance, and their respective ability to analyze complex systems. It is argued that combining neoclassical and ecological economics renders ecological economics incoherent, and that neoclassical economics fails the test of realism, and its conceptual apparatus is only capable of analyzing simple systems. It is also argued that ecological economics is coherent, passes the test of realism because it is ontologically, socio-historically, and descriptively realistic, and the conceptual apparatus of institutionalist ecological economics incorporates complex systems. It is concluded that practitioners of ecological economics ought to reject and jettison neoclassical economics from their fold and to develop closer connections to and alliances with practitioners of heterodox economics. Keywords: Ecological Economics, Ontology, Coherence, Realism, Systems Thinking. Author Keywords: Coherence, Ecological Economics, Ontology, Systems Thinking
Identifying Indigenous Determinants of Health
The primary research question of this study was to explore the key factors influencing Indigenous health through an investigation of Inuit health in Nunavik. This research used an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. The qualitative phase of this project employed interviews with Inuit health experts in Nunavik. The quantitative phase involved an analysis of the regional Inuit health dataset to identify predictors of Inuit self-rated health. Qualitative results identified a number of key social, cultural, environmental, and individual determinants of health in the region. Analysis of the quantitative data identified significant associations between variables such as age, physical activity, and peacefulness of the community and self-rated health. Considered in combination, the qualitative and quantitative results of this study indicate the potential value of determinants such as food security, education, and connection to land as important to Indigenous health. The analysis demonstrates that our understanding of health in an Indigenous context has to expand to include determinants beyond physical health. Author Keywords: determinants of health, Indigenous, Inuit, Nunavik, self-rated health
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
Exploring and Evaluating Personal, Cultural and Social Food Needs and the Role of a Community Freezer among Inuit in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut
This thesis sought to explore and evaluate perceptions of food needs and the role of a community freezer in addressing those needs, among Inuit in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador). Research was carried out through an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. Phase 1 employed qualitative interviews with community members in Hopedale to explore the perceptions of food needs from an Inuit perspective. Results from Phase 1 identified a series personal, physical, cultural, and social food needs that informed the development of a series of questions that were integrated into a community-wide survey that was implemented in Phase 2. Results from Phase 2 identified a series of cultural, household and individual characteristics that significantly impact perceived ability to meet needs among community members in Hopedale. Findings from this research contribute to our understanding of food needs, and may potentially influence estimates of levels of needs that are protected in Inuit land claims, and inform the development or improvement of community methods for food support. Author Keywords: Food Needs, Food Programs, Food Security, Indigenous, Inuit, Mixed-Methods
An Analysis of Zoning By-laws and Urban Agriculture in the City of Peterborough, Ontario
Urban agriculture (UA) is becoming increasingly prevalent in Canadian cities. Despite this municipal zoning by-laws often do not address UA explicitly. Using eleven interviews of urban agricultural participants a case study of the City of Peterborough’s zoning by-laws and the barriers they might present to UA was conducted. Research suggests that UA can provide many benefits to urban areas. The analysis found that the City of Peterborough’s zoning by-laws do not directly address UA. In order to enable the development of UA in the City of Peterborough its zoning by-laws will need to be redesigned to address and regulate UA directly. Author Keywords: By-laws, food systems, land use, municipal planning, urban agriculture, zoning
Active Neighbourhoods Canada
This research considers the historic context of power that planning operates within, and looks at the ways in which certain community members are marginalized by traditional planning processes. Participatory planning, which has theoretical roots in communicative planning theory, may have the potential to shift the legacy of power and marginalization within planning processes, resulting in improved planning outcomes, more social cohesion, and a higher quality of urban life. I used a community-based research approach to evaluate approaches to participatory urban planning in Peterborough, Ontario. I worked with a community-based active transportation planning project called the Stewart Street Active Neighbourhoods Canada project. This thesis evaluates the participatory planning approaches employed in the project, and determines if they are effective methods of engaging marginalized community members in planning. The research also identifies the professional benefits of participatory planning, and examines the barriers and enablers to incorporating participatory approaches into municipal planning processes. Finally, I developed a set of recommendations to implement participatory planning approaches more broadly in the city of Peterborough, Ontario. Author Keywords: active transportation, communicative planning theory, community-based research, community engagment, participatory planning, public participation
Building wind energy landscapes
This thesis project explores landowner experiences of wind energy development through an inductive qualitative case study in Huron County, Ontario. The research included in-depth interviews with landowners focused on landscape and community change, participant observation of Environmental Review Tribunals (ERT), the gathering of participant photos, as well as relevant government and industry documents and media reports. The iterative data gathering and analysis were supported by my observations and reflections while living in affected communities and talking to participants. The study demonstrates how the health debate over wind can inform divisions between neighbours, that local politics have been given a token role as a place for resistance to wind energy development that fails to meaningfully influence projects, and that appeals are legalistic and do not provide an outlet, or place for appellants to be heard. Furthermore, the felt experience of tight knit and fragile communities were disrupted through land leases, as well as changes to the landscape. These disruptions impacted connections to, and associations with place, and are shown to have had negative emotional and physical impacts on some individuals. Supporters of wind development tied their mostly positive views of landscape change to a sense of disruption generally throughout the community. Insights from the research lead to a set of suggested actions that might improve the current situation at the levels of provincial policy, planning, local governance and industry practice. Keywords: wind energy policy, planning, landscape, Ontario, rural communities Author Keywords: Affect, landscape, Ontario, planning, Rural communities, Wind energy policy

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