Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Shoreline Stewardship
This thesis aimed to determine what factors influence individual- and community-level shoreline stewardship attitudes and behaviours. Shoreline stewardship is part of the broader literature of environmental stewardship and place-based conservation. The needs and barriers limiting stewardship action were examined, as were the opportunities for increased impact. The Love Your Lake (LYL) program served as a case study into the impact of ENGO programming on shoreline stewardship among shoreline property owners in Ontario. This was investigated using a program workshop, interviews and focus groups with past program participants, and existing participant survey data. Community-Based Social Marketing principles were used to further examine the opportunities for increased impact on stewardship behaviour. The study found that the LYL program was effective in starting or continuing a conversation in communities around shoreline health. Some of the remaining needs and/or barriers included limited time at the cottage; limited knowledge of how to fix existing shoreline issues; low stock of local native plants and environmentally minded landscapers; ineffective messaging; a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern; and weak environmental policies and governance of shorelines. Some participants also listed cost as a barrier, while others felt it had been well addressed already. Most participants thought that education could be a barrier but that it had been well addressed locally through LYL or other programming. Some key motivators and opportunities to increase shoreline stewardship included community building, increased lake association capacity, improved communication and marketing strategies, and persistence. Author Keywords: Community-Based Social Marketing, Environmental Stewardship, Lake Health, Place-Based Conservation, Pro-Environmental Behaviour, Shoreline Stewardship
Perspectives on Poultry
The contemporary denigration of poultry combined with the intensification of industrialized animal agriculture has deepened divides between humans and poultry, creating a disconnect that holds implications for both parties and the sustainability of North American food systems. This study explores how people with poultry keeping experience perceive these animals, how their views are influenced and how these narratives may intersect with themes of sustainability. Surveys and interviews aimed at small flock keepers and commercial farmers within an area of Central Ontario revealed that poultry sentience was widely recognized among participants. Overall, this study’s findings disrupt commonly held notions that poultry are one-dimensional beings and highlight the mutual benefits that can come when the distance is lessened between humans and poultry. This research contends that reimagining human-poultry relationships could improve our ability to consider and challenge dominant systems that perpetuates unsustainable food production and negatively affects both animal and human life. Author Keywords: history poultry keeping, human-animal studies, human-poultry relationships, keeper attitudes, poultry sentience, sustainable food systems
(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
Through the eyes of the Ontario farmer
Dairy goat farming has become increasingly popular in recent years in Ontario. This qualitative study done by semi-structured interviews, examines the why and the wherefore of the opinions held by dairy goat farmers in Ontario in regards to sustainable agriculture. It was found that these farmers feel that sustainable agriculture is important. These farmers believed their farms to be sustainable and have implemented sustainable farming practices that reflect these interests. Their primary interest is to maintain their farmland for the use of future generations as well as maintaining the economic and environmental sustainability of their farms. There is currently a lack of scientific information available for dairy goat farmers in Ontario. Challenges presented by the participants should be researched so as to better serve this budding industry which may become one of the most sustainable livestock industries in Ontario. Author Keywords: agriculture, dairy goat, farmer opinion, farming, sustainability, sustainable agriculture
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
An Exploration of Partnership Models for Urban Conservation Land Management in Ontario
Partnerships for management of public parks have a long history, but little attention has been given to the current models of partnerships during a period of municipal austerity in Ontario. Using a qualitative assessment of transcripts from representatives of 10 municipal partner groups, this research considers what some of the current models are, the impact that they may have, and how municipalities may foster these partnership arrangements. The participating organizations demonstrated that their governance models evolved to suit their mandate, activities, and scope of interaction with their municipality. Additionally, this research corroborates past findings that efficacy of an organization is tied to their ability to partner with other agencies and act as a capacity amplifier. These results demonstrate how municipal conservation partnerships can be effectively applied to create enhanced financial outcomes and improved community engagement, while delivering community based environmental programming. Author Keywords: Conservation, Environmental Stewardship, Municipal Management, Partnership, Social Ecology, Urban Parks
Prioritizing Restoration Potential within Protected Areas in Haliburton County, Ontario
Ecological restoration helps managers of protected areas respond to challenges presented by factors that threaten ecological integrity and respond to residual effects of previous land use. Many protected areas require restoration on sections of the property, due to previous land use. The objective of this thesis is to present criteria that assist ecological restoration professionals in assessing the potential of restoration projects within a protected area, based on the restoration wheels from the International Principles and Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration. The criteria were discovered from a review of the literature and reinforced from interviews with experienced restoration practitioners and a focus group session with key members of the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust (HHLT). Based on the combination of biophysical and socioeconomic values in the restoration wheels, they are presented in the form of a five-star assessment system to create long-term restoration goals for properties of the HHLT and protected areas in general. These long-term restoration goals can be utilized in conjunction with the wheels and five-star assessment tools to prioritize restoration projects Author Keywords: Determining Project Potential, Ecological Restoration, Evaluating Success, Haliburton, Land trusts, Restoration Wheels
Civic Agriculture
This thesis re-imagines the social sustainability of civic agriculture. This entails critically examining the idea of sustainability and exposing why a tendency to undertheorize its social dimension is problematic for how we think about sustainability, and consequently for how we do sustainability. What is demonstrated is that we can overcome this tendency by adopting Stephen McKenzie's understanding of social sustainability as a positive condition and/or process within a community. Once brought into contact with the concept of civic agriculture as presented by Thomas A. Lyson, and expanded upon by others, this broadened understanding of social sustainability reveals that we can think of civic agriculture as both a means to, and an expression of, social sustainability. Specifically, this thesis argues that it is civic agriculture's community problem-solving dimension which animates civic agriculture in such a way that it creates the sort of condition and/or enables the sort of process which reflect aspects associated with a substantive and/or procedural understanding of social sustainability. This re-imagining of the social sustainability of civic agriculture provides ways to defend civic agriculture from its critics and is exemplified by drawing from a personal encounter with civic agriculture. In the end, it is proposed that in light of this research there are now good reasons to re-examine civic agriculture and to critically re-imagine what qualifies who as a civic agriculturalist so that the contextual nature of the social sustainability of civic agriculture can be better respected. Author Keywords: civic agriculture, community problem solving, local food systems, social sustainability, Stephen McKenzie, Thomas A. Lyson
Building social connections
This thesis evaluates a multi-stakeholder participatory planning initiative, NeighbourPLAN, in Peterborough, Ontario, and the role of the third-party broker, GreenUP, in establishing connections and networks of capacity between marginalized members of the community and contributing organizations, city, and experts. Participatory approaches to engage residents disenfranchised by traditional planning processes are believed to challenge the status quo perpetuated by top-down decision-making. I worked within two neighbourhoods involved in NeighbourPLAN to determine whether the collaborative work and brokering between stakeholders would foster increased connectedness that could exist independently and last beyond the project's timeline. The findings from this evaluation determine that, from the residents' perspectives, while the presence of the other stakeholders in these participatory planning events was valuable, there was not enough affective time to create long-lasting connections. Partners that developed relationships marked with trust and mutual benefit provide a helpful blueprint showing how serious commitment and consistency can build sustainable and meaningful connections. I conclude with a set of recommendations to enhance the connection building between diverse stakeholders and marginalized communities within NeighbourPLAN, highlighting the promising potential of arts-based and storytelling methods. Author Keywords: arts-based methods, community engagement, Participatory action research (PAR), participatory planning, photovoice, social connectedness
Unsettling Inner Landscapes
Recent climate scientists, Indigenous resurgence scholars, and psychologists have variously indicated that we need a transformation of consciousness in order to address the cultural and spiritual forces at the root of our current environmental, interpersonal, and individual crises of disconnection. My research is in direct response to diverse calls for this paradigm shift, including the words of Elders such as the late Grandfather William Commanda who encouraged settlers such as myself to ‘remember our original instructions’. Through an anti-colonial and trauma-informed lens, my goal has been to strategically inform my roles and responsibilities in healing the disconnection and abuses in what I term the trilogy of my relationships to self, others, and Land. This study is both a critical auto-ethnography and as well as a theoretical engagement with Indigenous resurgence, settler colonialism, and sustainability discourses. I share dialogues with Anishinaabe-kweg in my community with whom I have established relationships and the results of our discussions focus on holistic models of transforming settler consciousness. What emerges is an emotional, uncertain, and yet radically hopeful narrative that points to the urgency of centering Indigenous sovereignty and Indigenous relationship models while endeavouring to reconstruct a sense of identity and belonging along more accountable lines. Recovering a sense of my Celtic epistemology and story work is offered as a strategic exemplar of how settlers might begin to remember and co-create more balanced, respectful, and reciprocal relationships with and within place. Nurturing an embodied spiritual practice of deep listening, critical self-reflection, and collective action is discussed as potentially central to sustaining a decolonizing praxis for white settler Canadians more broadly. Author Keywords: Critical auto-ethnography, Critical Spirituality, Decolonization, Indigenous-settler relations, Original Instructions, Settler colonial studies
Ohwén
Ohwén:tsia Entsionkwarihón:nien is a project that explores the intersection of Kanien’kéha immersion, Kanien’kehá:ka culture and the potential impacts of experiencing Rotinonhsón:ni knowledge on the land. Students at the Akwesasne Freedom School are fully immersed in the Kanien’kéha language and the “curriculum” is centered around four Rotinonhsón:ni systems of knowledge. What is missing, as identified by the teachers, is consistent opportunities for students to physically be on the land. This project asks how can we ensure that future generations of Onkwehónwe children can embody their language and their culture in connection to the land. The resulting “curriculum” then shifts from determining what students will learn, to listening to what the land has to teach. A land-based program by the AFS can translate to educational control, cultural sustainability, food sovereignty, environmental stewardship, community empowerment and linguistic revitalization; each of these is a critical component of building and rebuilding communities and nations. Author Keywords: Indigenous methodology, Land-Based Education, Rotinonhsón:ni, Storytelling
An Official Plan for Peterborough, Ontario
Using the Official Plan as the case study, this research examines the extent to which underrepresented groups are engaged in public consultation in the planning process for the City of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. The Official Plan, along with the tools and secondary plans and policies which reinforce it, shape how people navigate and benefit from the built environment, such as access to public institutions and amenities, transit, parks, safe public space, quality housing, and more. This research frames the Official Plan as an opportunity for the city to demonstrate its new commitment to transparency and community engagement. Drawing on a range of experts and community members, and best engagement practices of other Canadian municipalities and nongovernmental organizations, a set of recommendations is proposed for the city’s community engagement framework. These recommendations emphasize an inclusive, democratic, and feminist approach to engagement and consultation which honours lived experience and local knowledge of diverse and underrepresented demographics and multi-sector stakeholders. Author Keywords: diversity, equity , inclusion, marginalized , public engagement, underrepresented

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