Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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(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
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
Understanding the Role of Lived Experience in Community Leaders’ Vision and Governance of Economic Development and Sustainability in Rurally Situated Small Cities
Sustainable development is normative - making decisions in the present that construct the experience of place for the future. It is primarily driven by global measures developed to meet the needs of the present while ensuring future generations can meet their own needs. These measures attempt to balance economic prosperity, social justice, and environmental stewardship in many nations. This attempt to balance a plurality of outcomes creates socio-political tensions in choosing between alternatives. These barriers and tensions are characterized through the neoclassical vision of: economics as a science, utility maximization, and alienation of people. This thesis explores the lived experience of community leaders in Peterborough, Ontario as they navigate a contentious and current debate of where to relocate a casino in the region. The results focus on the tension experienced by community leaders as they seek to balance elements of care, while preserving neoclassical values of growth, individualism, freedom of choice, and interconnectedness. The thesis concludes with a model that works towards an understanding of the role of lived experience in economic development decision-making in rurally situated small cities, and recommendations for further research and policy recommendations. Author Keywords: economic development, governance, lived experience, small city, sustainable development, vision
Life in the Woods
The North American conservation movement and modern conservation model was created in part because of the exploitative commercial hunting industry that caused the collapse of species such as the bison and auk in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These historical actions continue to shape views today and the public perception of hunting can often be negative. This thesis engaged with this question of social acceptability by conducting action research to determine hunters’ motivations and how these might affect the way hunting is perceived. As part of this action research, I conducted nine in-depth interviews, a survey of 177 hunters, and a focus group to determine what the dominant motivations were for the hunters studied. I then suggest how the motivations discovered through the focus group, interviews, and survey can work towards the current and future social, economic, cultural, and environmental sustainability of hunting in Ontario. Author Keywords: Ethics, Hunting, Motivations, Ontario, Social Acceptance, Sustainability
Role of Consumption in Canada’s Economic Sustainability
This thesis addresses the interconnectedness of environmental sustainability and economic sustainability. There is evidence from the Canadian experience that market economies are extremely dependent upon consumption - the most significant factor in determining the overall level of economic activity and economic growth. Therefore, from this perspective, several periods of declining consumption would create a ‘vicious cycle’ [Kaldor, 1967] of economic decline that would be politically unsustainable. The analysis here shows that income inequality drives changes in debt-fueled consumption, and consequently, debt influences consumption. The role of income inequality as a mediating channel of sustainability via the borrowing/lending model presents evidence that ‘conventional’ debt servicing behaviour in the macro-economy can support steady-state economic growth that is, in economic terms, sustainable. Solving the conflict between the environment and the economy lies in private and public investments in new technologies and, most importantly, new social institutions that facilitate economic, political, and environmental, sustainability. Author Keywords: Consumption, Economic Growth, Household Debt, Income Inequality, Sustainability
Sowing the seeds of Canada's future agroecological farm(er)s
There are many barriers facing new, sustainably-focused, agriculturalists in Canada including access to land, capital, markets and practical training. These challenges are compounded by the flawed but powerful figure of the industrial agriculture model, a rapidly aging farmer population, changing demographics, and subsequent loss of valuable, place-based agricultural knowledge. This thesis argues that there is a need for innovative formal education programs that combine traditional classroom with practical hands-on learning in collaboration with local experts. As such, this exploratory case study looks at how a farm incubator can function as a site for experiential education and a means of addressing some of the barriers to entry faced by new agroecological farmers. The findings show that those seeking experiential sustainable agriculture education benefit greatly from having a site, such as a farm incubator, to learn the skills that accompany their knowledge while building their agricultural community and increasing their confidence. Author Keywords: agroecology, experiential learning, farm incubators, social learning, sustainable agriculture and food systems education, transdsciplinary
Examining the Role of Intermediary Organizations in Participatory Planning
This research evaluates the role of GreenUP, a non-profit in Peterborough, Ontario, as the intermediary organization for NeighbourPLAN. The project examines GreenUP’s role in facilitating and managing NeighbourPLAN, a participatory planning project with multiple local partners and actors. Six critical success factors are used to understand and conceptualize intermediary success (adapted from Holden et al., 2016). Critical success factors include knowledge; governance; relationships; resources; activities; and motivation. Findings from the research highlight the importance of trust, resources, and time within this framework. Author Keywords: Community Based Research, Intermediary, Neighbourhood, Non-profit, Participatory Planning, Partnership Structure
Age-Friendly for Whom?
In this thesis, I explore the question of what would make Peterborough a good or “age-friendly” place to grow old(er) from a diversity of perspectives within and outside the structures of Age-friendly Peterborough (AFP). This research further explores if and/or how AFP and the Age-friendly movement more broadly, can be used as a tool for visioning and enacting more just, equitable, and “age-friendly” aging futures. To answer these questions I used semi-structured interviews with individuals either presently or previously involved with Age-friendly Peterborough, and an intergenerational and arts-based workshop, “Imagining our Futures.” From the research findings, I argue that AFP has a significant role to play in making Peterborough a better place to grow old(er), while also outlining how dominant Age-friendly frameworks are limited in their ability to move us towards aging futures that are just, equitable, and “age-friendly.” Author Keywords: Age-Friendly Communities, Age-Friendly Movement, Aging Futures, Arts-Based Research, Interdependence, Successful Aging
Can Shared Platforms Build Sustainability in the Non-profit Sector? Comparing Practitioner Perceptions of Organizational Experience in Non-profit Organizations and Platform Projects
This thesis explores practitioner perceptions of operational and structural experiences of non-profit organizations (NPO) and platform projects (PP) to develop an understanding of how a shared platform governance model can build resiliency and sustainability in non-profit organizations. The objectives of this research are to 1) develop an understanding of NPO and PP operational and structural experiences based on qualitative interviews with practitioners; 2) analyze how a PP model can address challenges facing the NPO sector; and 3) based on a thorough analysis of current literature and research findings, recommend a model that addresses these challenges and builds sustainability in NPOs. A grounded inductive approach was used to identify a thematic narrative. The process was iterative, working between existing literature and interview data. Interviews with eight NPO practitioners and eight PP practitioners revealed four narrative theme areas: Financial, Funder, Organizational, and Emotional Tone. The results document several ways a PP model can provide opportunities to address the perceived funder and organizational challenges of small NPOs. Keywords: non-profit organizations, collaboration, innovation, governance models, shared platform, platform projects Author Keywords: governance model , innovation , non-profit organizations , organizational resilience, shared platform, Sustainability
Sustainable Development and Environmental Security in the Canadian Arctic
This study identifies and examines interlinkages between climate change and sustainable development, environmental security, and adaptive capacity through a case study of two communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region: Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. It seeks to understand how these two communities perceive climate change and define sustainable development, particularly in relation to oil and gas development. This thesis discusses the constraints that may be arising for local communities to benefit from emerging opportunities due to competing notions of sustainable development and environmental security. The findings indicate how notions of environmental security and sustainable development act upon multiple levels to impact the adaptive capacity of communities in the Arctic. The general findings also suggest that regionally specific understandings of sustainable development, sustainability, and environmental security need to be acknowledged in order to develop successful governance coordination and cooperation strategies and paradigms related to economic, social, infrastructure and environmental issues in the NWT and the Canadian Arctic. Author Keywords: Arctic, Beaufort Sea, climate change, Environmental Security, Inuvialuit, Sustainable Development
"Changing our community"
Community-based research (CBR) is a method of discovery that can provide pragmatic methods of advocating for and enabling community change. CBR literature and practice has focused on securing educational and job skills training outcomes for students rather than the communities, and community outcomes CBR and partnership frameworks were truly meant to serve. This research evaluates the effectiveness of a research brokering organization, and the community outcomes that can be meaningfully related back to established partnerships and research. A linked contribution and realist evaluation were employed to consider the contributions of U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research to capacity building in Haliburton County, for host organizations, local municipalities and the public. A community survey (n=65), interviews with past project hosts and management committee members (n=26) anecdotal project exploration, internal document review, and participant observation from living in the region and working within the organization, offers qualitative and quantitative data to support this contribution narrative, while also theorizing key factors for developing projects with high contribution potential. Five key factors were found which can act as both contexts and mechanisms of community-based research mobilization: relevance, relationships, resources, rigour and reach. Author Keywords: capacity building, community, community-based research, contribution analysis, evaluations, research impact

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