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
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
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
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 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
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
Spirituality, Community and Compassion Matter! Exploring Motivators to Providing Holistic Social and Health Services in Peterborough, Ontario
My research explores potential motivators for social and health service providers to be more holistic and compassionate with those they serve. From previous research focused on spirituality, I identified seven additional concepts: faith, religion, community, culture, compassion, wellness, and wholeness. Using elements of Appreciative Inquiry, data was collected through a focus group and an in-depth, online survey. The participants work with Indigenous, religious, other spiritually motivated, or non-spiritual social or health service organizations in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Prototype concept analysis allowed participants to personally define each concept, and then indicate how much each motivated them. Results indicate, regardless of individual demographics, the definitions and motivations are very personal. The concepts with the most to least motivational impact were community, compassion, spirituality, wellness, wholeness, culture, faith and religion. Participants' voices speak directly through this research. I use their suggestions to make recommendations for improving the systems within which they provide service. Author Keywords: community, compassion, health services, indigenous knowledge, social services, spirituality
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

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