Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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sustainability of Community-based Water supply Organizations (CWOs)
The world has met the target of halving the number of people without access to improved-drinking water . However, the focus in rural areas (where 83% of the people without access to improved-drinking water live) has been on the construction of infrastructure, rather than on the strengthening of existing local institutions to create a long-term sustainable solution. This research aims to understand what are the necessary characteristics that CWOs, the main rural water supplier institutions around the world, must have to offer safe water continuously and in the long term. The results indicate that to offer such conditions, internal and external characteristic need to coexist. Those characteristics will emerge from case studies analysis in rural and peri-urban areas in Colombia, through interviews, surveys, document reviews, observation exercises, and a comparison with the literature. Internal characteristics include proper infrastructure conditions, user satisfaction, best management practices, social capital, be a development catalyzer, and environmental awareness. External characteristics include easy access to subsidies, efficient communication channels with authorities, continuous training, and environmental legislation/education. This study concludes that enforcing these characteristics will strengthen the existing institutions and can provide a sustainable solution for rural water supply issues. Author Keywords: community-based water supply organizations, costs, management, financial sustainability, rural Colombia, state subsidies, water tariffs
Why do landowners restore wetlands? A case study from east central Ontario
Wetlands were once widespread in southern Ontario, but many have been drained through land use changes. Using a case study of twelve landowners in the Kawartha region, I explored motivations for restoring wetlands. Psychological research suggests that people who are more connected to nature and attached to place are more likely to behave sustainably. Results showed that having land available and receiving funding were necessary preconditions. Connectedness to nature and place attachment were motivations, as were personal benefits and having a supportive social community. Challenges included: the Permit to Take Water, paperwork and bureaucracy, delays and timing, and economic restrictions. Positive outcomes were: increased property value and crop productivity; personal enjoyment of wetlands; and improved wildlife habitat and water quality. Negative outcomes were: `nuisance' wildlife, trespassing, and a lack or excess of water. This is a novel study exploring nature connectedness, place attachment and wetland restoration qualitatively in southern Ontario. Author Keywords: agriculture, connection to nature, motivation, southern Ontario, stewardship, wetland restoration
Volunteer Experiences of Place-making for Sustainable Community Development
This thesis explores the experiences of volunteers who came together to redevelop an abandoned convent into The Mount Community Centre (The Mount) for the purpose of sustainable community development. The goal of the research was to explore the relational processes of place-making at The Mount, to be achieved through two objectives: first, to describe the nature of collaboration among volunteers in place at The Mount; and second, to understand the experience of volunteers through their narratives and descriptions, with respect to the influence of The Mount as a place. Methods employed were participant observation and key-informant interviews with 24 participants conducted using a video-documentary approach. The result was a community-based, qualitative case study comprised of volunteer voices, in their collective narrative of experience of The Mount’s development trajectory. A thematic analysis of volunteer narratives indicated patterns of connectivity and the expansion of relational networks of place, implicated in strategic approaches in three experiential phases of Daring, Erring, and Groundswell along the development’s trajectory. In demonstrating how place influences community organization to address needs, The Mount provides an example for future inquiry that contributes to the advancement of knowledge in discussions of voluntarism, place, and sustainable community development. Keywords: Voluntarism, place-making, sustainable community development, community-based research Author Keywords: community-based research, Non-profit sector, Place, Place-making, Sustainable-community development, Voluntarism
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
Understanding Dimensions of Environmental Sustainability in a Northern Indigenous Context
Although the concept of environmental sustainability has become increasingly popular, the literature offers little practical guidance to direct priorities or actions to support environmental sustainability in northern Indigenous communities. A case study in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, and a systematic literature review was undertaken to understand: 1) what aspects of the local environment are of value to a northern Indigenous community; and 2) what does existing literature identify as key elements of a community-based approach to monitor valued aspects of the environment in a northern Indigenous context. Hopedale residents spoke to the importance of going off on the land and identified a number of categories of places in their local environment of importance to them, including: 1) valued areas for human-use, 2) areas to protect, 3) areas of environmental concern, and 4) areas to monitor. The systematic literature review highlighted trends on community-based monitoring (CBM) publications, and identified key 13 elements of CBM approaches that are pertinent to northern Indigenous communities. Insights from this study will inform environmental planning and management in the case community of Hopedale, as well as offer guidance to enhance current and future CBM activities in the North and elsewhere. Author Keywords: community-based monitoring, environmental sustainability, Inuit, Labrador, participatory mapping, systematic literature review
Uncovering the Barriers to Sustainable Music Consumption
The study sought to uncover the motivations influencing collectors when they buy recorded music. These motivations were analyzed through the lenses of environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability. Trent Radio Programmers were interviewed because of their frequent use of recorded music, sizable collections, and active participation in the local music scene. The study identified disconnects between artist, industry, and consumer motivations that hinder the achievement of a sustainable system. Environmental sustainability was not considered, while the artists’ economic and cultural sustainability were. This finding translates to the idea that in the music industry, to strengthen cultural sustainability, economics must be supported, which requires environmental impact. This research has the potential to catalyze critical conversations about digital media, artist welfare, and the state of the music industry. Author Keywords: College Radio, Cultural Sustainability, Economic Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability, Music Collecting
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
Sustainable Development
While there is an emerging body of literature on the role and effectiveness of community-based research (CBR) in addressing the needs of local communities, few studies have explored its promise in areas lacking established collaborative models. The purpose of this paper is to examine the potential of CBR to meet the sustainable community development needs of the primarily urban Durham Region in Southern Ontario. Semi-structured interviews with twenty sustainability-focused community members from the academic, municipal, private and non-profit sectors were conducted using Glaser and Strauss' grounded theory to develop a working hypothesis that was analyzed with the aid of the qualitative data software program ATLAS.ti. The results reveal that while the region's academic and community groups have little time to initiate formal community-campus collaborations, the additional manpower and expertise that a well-structured CBR model provides could significantly assist local organizations complete unfinished projects and undertake new initiatives. Author Keywords: Community-based research, Community-campus collaboration, Cooperative education, Durham Region, Experiential education, Sustainable development
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
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
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
Mythopoeia Sylvatica
Since British colonization of North America and the beginning of Anglo-speaking Euro-Canada and the United States, myth-making or representations of the forests have witnessed degradation and loss of old-growth forest ecosystems or intact sylvan landscapes. Canadian and American versions of the story of the North American Forests shared the same trajectory: forests as ‘wasted-land’ or the sylvan wilderness (terra nullius) divided into properties and cleared to “improve” the land for settlement/agriculture, forests as storehouses for timber and imperial expansion, forest landscapes and specific forest trees as identity politics and sources of industrial and economic power. While forests are recognized according to various stakeholders’ values today, what is commonly accepted as a forest varies widely. The meaning given to “forest” determines related terms and concepts, such as “sustainable forestry” and “reforestation.” This thesis addresses the issue of social-bioecological degradation, loss, and dis(re)membering of old-growth forests and problematizes traditional Western relationships with old wildwoods shaped by notions of space, politics, and economy. In the forest topos, the core question becomes which forest(s) are being imagined, represented, and remembered? Whose environmental imagination is shaping the landscape? As a critical topographical exploration of the North American forests through six witness trees, this thesis demonstrates how the meanings imbued in trees and wild woods come to determine the fate of the forests. It reveals how colonial values and trends persist in our societies still, and calls for an ethical social-ecological reimagining of the forests through traditions of ethical storytelling and environmental witnessing. Author Keywords: critical topography, environmental generational amnesia, environmental witnessing, forests, social-ecological systems, witness trees

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