Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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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
Dimensions of socio-cultural sustainability
Social and cultural sustainability is increasingly discussed in a variety of disciplines and in the growing body of sustainability literature. However there is a lack of clarity in how the concept is defined and poor understanding as to how it relates to other aspects of sustainability. To address this issue, this research explored current definitions and representations of socio-cultural sustainability in the literature and community perspectives on this topic through a case study in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, Labrador. This research identifies gaps in current understandings of this concept, as well as differences between community and academic perspectives. Case study results emphasized the importance of strong social relationships, cultural identity, and connection to place as central elements of socio-cultural sustainability in a northern, Indigenous context. These findings are valuable for policy and decision makers, regarding approaches to community planning and supporting the social and cultural aspects of sustainability. Author Keywords: cultural sustainability, Hopedale, Inuit, Nunatsiavut, social sustainability, socio-cultural sustainability
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
Learning From One Another
Biomaterial technology and utilizing bioproducts can contribute to Canada's economic growth while moving towards sustainable development. Canadian bioproducts are commonly developed within universities but Canada's record of transferring university technology to market has been less than optimal. In an attempt to offer new ideas for improvement, qualitative data analysis from comparing stakeholder interviews in Canada and Brazil regarding university technology transfer through biomaterial spin-off development identifies the enablers and barriers to success. This thesis offers modality changes that if implemented will contribute to increasing university spin-off development in Canada to achieve economic growth and sustainable development. These modality changes include: 1) Create research network alliances; 2) Incorporate university commercialization activities into faculty performance measurement; 3) Implement a general business class as a pre-requisite to all degree requirements; 4) Restructure funding programs from one time sums to phase based implementation; 5) Establish a pre-incubation program in addition to the traditional incubator. Author Keywords: biomaterials, Brazil, Canada, policy, university spin-off, university technology transfer
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
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
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
Energy Resilience in Northern Communities
This project examines the factors for success of alternative energy initiatives in remote northern Indigenous communities, and the link between northern community energy and resilience. The case study, in the Gwich’in village of Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, focuses upon a biomass boiler district heating project that provides renewable heat fuelled by local wood chips, and the willow harvesting initiative that supports it. Data was collected by interviews and participant observation in Fort McPherson and Yellowknife, and by analysis of resilience, community energy, and biomass literature. Success factors identified include the importance of aligning energy systems with local cultural identity, traditional values and connection to landscape, values often under-represented in financially-driven energy decisions. Autonomy and self-reliance are shown to be critical factors in northern community energy decisions, related to well-being, pride in place and enhanced resilience. Community resilience is revealed as a key component of northern community energy success. Author Keywords: Energy, Indigenous, Northern, Renewable, Resilience, Sustainable
Exploring and Evaluating Personal, Cultural and Social Food Needs and the Role of a Community Freezer among Inuit in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut
This thesis sought to explore and evaluate perceptions of food needs and the role of a community freezer in addressing those needs, among Inuit in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador). Research was carried out through an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. Phase 1 employed qualitative interviews with community members in Hopedale to explore the perceptions of food needs from an Inuit perspective. Results from Phase 1 identified a series personal, physical, cultural, and social food needs that informed the development of a series of questions that were integrated into a community-wide survey that was implemented in Phase 2. Results from Phase 2 identified a series of cultural, household and individual characteristics that significantly impact perceived ability to meet needs among community members in Hopedale. Findings from this research contribute to our understanding of food needs, and may potentially influence estimates of levels of needs that are protected in Inuit land claims, and inform the development or improvement of community methods for food support. Author Keywords: Food Needs, Food Programs, Food Security, Indigenous, Inuit, Mixed-Methods
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
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
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

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