Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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“I will not use the word reconciliation” – Exploring Settler (Un)Certainty, Indigenous Refusal, and Decolonization through a Life History Project with Jean Koning
This thesis centres on a series of intergenerational life history interviews with and about Jean Koning, a 95-year-old white Settler woman who has engaged in different forms of Indigenous-Settler solidarity work for over fifty years—work that is highly regarded by many Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in southwestern and central Ontario. I bring Jean’s stories and perspectives, many of which stand in stark contrast to dominant discourses of “reconciliation,” into conversation with scholars who examine Indigenous refusal and Settler (un)certainty. Through this, I attempt to better understand how colonial knowledge structures and ways of thinking operate in practise, how these might be resisted, and how this resistance relates to land repatriation. I argue that a commitment to unsettling uncertainty and to meaningful listening may be required by Settlers in a stand against various colonial ways of thinking, such as cognitive imperialism. Author Keywords: Cognitive imperialism, Decolonization, Indigenous-Settler relations, Life history, Reconciliation, Settler uncertainty
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
Virtual Voices
A consistent provincial approach to capacity planning for rehabilitative care had been identified as a critical gap in the field of health care in Ontario (Rehabilitative Care Alliance, 2015a). In response, the rehabilitative care alliance (RCA) developed a needs based hip fracture capacity planning canvas together with persons and families. This research utilized computer assisted participation (CAP) to gather additional perspectives from Virtual Voices via an on-line survey. The results of the Virtual Voices survey were compared to Ontario’s RCA hip fracture patient focus group findings. CAP facilitated more voices and more ideas through virtual engagement. The survey method required 97% (10.6 hours) less time than the focus group. The Virtual Voices respondents provided validation of the focus groups’ confirmation of the rehabilitative care needs, locations and most core team members as well as identified new ideas. The results support the implementation of a needs-based capacity plan that enables individualized care planning. This research provides a blueprint for the ongoing engagement of persons and families in the co-creation of a sustainable rehabilitative care system. A dashboard and e-health app would enable ongoing co-design, monitoring and evaluation. Author Keywords: Computer Assisted Participation (CAP), Computer Assisted Survey, Hip Fracture, Rehabilitative Care Needs, Virtual Collaboration, Virtual Engagement
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
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
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
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
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

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