Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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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
AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT AND REUSE IN JORDAN
This research explores the obstacles Jordan is facing regarding the sustainable treatment and reuse of wastewater in the agricultural sector. It assesses the technical, socio-cultural, and political aspects of decision-making around water and wastewater management in Jordan by focusing on a case study involving wastewater usage in the Jordan Valley. It includes a literature review and interviews with representatives of key stakeholders. While at one level wastewater treatment is a technical process with technological solutions, a nuanced understanding of the non-technical challenges facing the wastewater treatment sector in Jordan is necessary. These challenges are inherently embedded in and contextualized by a series of historical, complex and dynamic political and socio-cultural issues involving stakeholders at local and national levels. Only through an interdisciplinary approach with real stakeholder engagement will meaningful solutions to these challenges be developed and implemented, and at least a portion of Jordan's water needs be meaningfully addressed. Author Keywords: Agriculture, Jordan Valley, Political challenges, Sociocultural challenges, Technical challenges, wastewater management
"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
Test for Pluralism
This study intervenes into the debate regarding the definition of pluralism in ecological economics and how that definition affects various characterizations of ecological economics. The methodological pluralist camp argue for the inclusion of neoclassical economics into the ecological economics fold, while the critical pluralist camp argue against the inclusion of neoclassical economics. This study provides a critical exposition of the preanalytical visions of neoclassical and ecological economics that includes their respective ontological and epistemological foundations. Those foundations are critically scrutinized for coherence, realism and relevance, and their respective ability to analyze complex systems. It is argued that combining neoclassical and ecological economics renders ecological economics incoherent, and that neoclassical economics fails the test of realism, and its conceptual apparatus is only capable of analyzing simple systems. It is also argued that ecological economics is coherent, passes the test of realism because it is ontologically, socio-historically, and descriptively realistic, and the conceptual apparatus of institutionalist ecological economics incorporates complex systems. It is concluded that practitioners of ecological economics ought to reject and jettison neoclassical economics from their fold and to develop closer connections to and alliances with practitioners of heterodox economics. Keywords: Ecological Economics, Ontology, Coherence, Realism, Systems Thinking. Author Keywords: Coherence, Ecological Economics, Ontology, Systems Thinking
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
Analyzing the Effectiveness of Social Movements Opposing Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
Blocking fossil fuel infrastructure projects like pipelines is increasingly being seen as a legitimate way for civil society groups to reduce global carbon emissions. This research project is an exploratory case study of the Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia and its opposition. My research question asks, ‘What has each tactic/strategy of opposition in the campaign to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion accomplished, and how have they been effective? How can they be done more effectively?’ Through interviews and an autoethnography, my research explores the effectiveness of activists in this campaign. I analyze the results of my findings within social movement theory and other activist definitions of effectiveness from my literature review. The more significant findings from my research are that activists need to do a better job educating the public on the issue, need to direct more of their resources towards promoting a solution to the issue and make alliances with other movements and groups. This research project contributes to the literature on the effectiveness of oppositional strategies and tactics of pipeline resistance, as well as social movement theory. Author Keywords: British Columbia, pipeline, protest, strategy, tactic, Trans Mountain
Identifying Indigenous Determinants of Health
The primary research question of this study was to explore the key factors influencing Indigenous health through an investigation of Inuit health in Nunavik. This research used an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. The qualitative phase of this project employed interviews with Inuit health experts in Nunavik. The quantitative phase involved an analysis of the regional Inuit health dataset to identify predictors of Inuit self-rated health. Qualitative results identified a number of key social, cultural, environmental, and individual determinants of health in the region. Analysis of the quantitative data identified significant associations between variables such as age, physical activity, and peacefulness of the community and self-rated health. Considered in combination, the qualitative and quantitative results of this study indicate the potential value of determinants such as food security, education, and connection to land as important to Indigenous health. The analysis demonstrates that our understanding of health in an Indigenous context has to expand to include determinants beyond physical health. Author Keywords: determinants of health, Indigenous, Inuit, Nunavik, self-rated health
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
Fostering sustainable development through cross-sector collaboration in university innovation initiatives
This research explores cross-sector collaboration in universities’ innovation initiatives. To understand the current roles of the higher education sector and the influences shaping innovation initiatives through cross-sector collaborative projects, this study is focused on a case study of the Trent University Research & Innovation Park (TRIP) project. The following three central issues emerged from the thematic analysis performed through the case study: the roles played by universities in creating a context for successful innovation ventures; the construct of culture as a dominant driver in such ventures; and the implications of collective learning in cross-sector collaborations as an enabler of successful innovation projects. Based on the findings of this study, it is argued that the opportunities and potential of Universities' cross-sectoral innovation projects rely on three crucial factors: the local culture, the individuals involved, and their specialized skills such as those involved in the ‘High Ductility’ skill set. Author Keywords: Collective learning, Cross-sectoral collaboration, Higher Education sector, Innovation models, Organizational culture, Sustainable Development
Emerging Dynamic Social Learning Theory of a Learning Community of Practice
In current knowledge-based economy, knowledge might be viewed as the most valuable organizational resource in sustaining any organization. Organizational knowledge originates from cognitive learning by individuals situated within organizations. In organizational learning, situated learning of knowledge by individuals is shared to create sustainable organizational competency. Yet, there is inadequate research to understand how situated learning operates as a social learning system within Community of Practice (‘CoP’). Through a case study of a multi-level, non-profit CoP in Ontario, Canada, this qualitative explanatory research contributes to the extant literature by building a unique theoretical framework that provides conceptual insights on linkages between organizational knowledge, social learning system, and organizational competency, in sustaining the organizational CoP. Using Straussian grounded theory methodology, qualitative primary data from in-depth interviews, participant observations, and documents were triangulated and analysed abductively to reveal an emerging dynamic knowledge-based social learning theory towards explaining how situated learning sustains this learning CoP. Author Keywords: Community of Practice, Grounded Theory, Organizational Knowledge, Organizational Learning, Organizational Sustainability, Situated Learning
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

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