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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Potential Contribution of Mobile Processing Services to Food System Sustainability in the Regional Livestock Production Industry of Central Ontario
This qualitative study examines the applicability, impact, best practices, sustainability and livestock welfare implications of mobile processing service operation in central Ontario. Grounded theory concepts were utilized to analyze data generated from semi-structured interviews and a community focus group, supplemented by an initial exploratory literature review, and focused review approach to refine emergent categories. It was found that there is interest in, applicability for, and food system-sustainability benefit from mobile processing services, but market competition and regulatory context impede the profitability of operation, not just for mobile service, but for existing provincial plants. Public support for mobile or regionalized processing resources could address many of the sustainability concerns in our regional livestock production and consumption systems, but where appetite for such political action does not exist, solutions are required if we hope to address the continuing centralization, commodification, traditional profit-maximization and negative externality generation of our industrialized agri-food production system. Author Keywords: agri-business production and distribution, livestock welfare, mobile abattoirs and livestock processing, regional food systems, rural-urban relations, 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

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