Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Can Shared Platforms Build Sustainability in the Non-profit Sector? Comparing Practitioner Perceptions of Organizational Experience in Non-profit Organizations and Platform Projects
This thesis explores practitioner perceptions of operational and structural experiences of non-profit organizations (NPO) and platform projects (PP) to develop an understanding of how a shared platform governance model can build resiliency and sustainability in non-profit organizations. The objectives of this research are to 1) develop an understanding of NPO and PP operational and structural experiences based on qualitative interviews with practitioners; 2) analyze how a PP model can address challenges facing the NPO sector; and 3) based on a thorough analysis of current literature and research findings, recommend a model that addresses these challenges and builds sustainability in NPOs. A grounded inductive approach was used to identify a thematic narrative. The process was iterative, working between existing literature and interview data. Interviews with eight NPO practitioners and eight PP practitioners revealed four narrative theme areas: Financial, Funder, Organizational, and Emotional Tone. The results document several ways a PP model can provide opportunities to address the perceived funder and organizational challenges of small NPOs. Keywords: non-profit organizations, collaboration, innovation, governance models, shared platform, platform projects Author Keywords: governance model , innovation , non-profit organizations , organizational resilience, shared platform, Sustainability
Civic Agriculture
This thesis re-imagines the social sustainability of civic agriculture. This entails critically examining the idea of sustainability and exposing why a tendency to undertheorize its social dimension is problematic for how we think about sustainability, and consequently for how we do sustainability. What is demonstrated is that we can overcome this tendency by adopting Stephen McKenzie's understanding of social sustainability as a positive condition and/or process within a community. Once brought into contact with the concept of civic agriculture as presented by Thomas A. Lyson, and expanded upon by others, this broadened understanding of social sustainability reveals that we can think of civic agriculture as both a means to, and an expression of, social sustainability. Specifically, this thesis argues that it is civic agriculture's community problem-solving dimension which animates civic agriculture in such a way that it creates the sort of condition and/or enables the sort of process which reflect aspects associated with a substantive and/or procedural understanding of social sustainability. This re-imagining of the social sustainability of civic agriculture provides ways to defend civic agriculture from its critics and is exemplified by drawing from a personal encounter with civic agriculture. In the end, it is proposed that in light of this research there are now good reasons to re-examine civic agriculture and to critically re-imagine what qualifies who as a civic agriculturalist so that the contextual nature of the social sustainability of civic agriculture can be better respected. Author Keywords: civic agriculture, community problem solving, local food systems, social sustainability, Stephen McKenzie, Thomas A. Lyson
Cultivating Change
The global food system has been criticized for being environmentally, economically and socially unsustainable. As part of a local food movement, farmers’ markets (FM) are undergoing a revival in response to the escalating food system globalization of the past century. Despite the prevalence of FMs as formalized organizations, there remains a significant range in their operational strategies. Through 41 questionnaires and 17 interviews with market administrators across Ontario, in collaboration with the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market Association, I explored these strategies and analyzed the influence of community characteristics on FM operations. Factors that appear to have a significant impact on FM governance and management are market size and age, willingness to adapt to change, and relationships with external organizations. My findings suggest that democratic vendor engagement and documentation of procedural systems can help optimize market administration. In terms of vendor relationships, primary concerns include regulation of resellers, diplomatic vendor pool design, and creation of a collaborative atmosphere. As well, I conclude that customers are best viewed as socially invested stakeholders with a strong interest in learning about local food production. Author Keywords: farmers’ markets, global food system, local food systems, Ontario farmers’ markets, sustainability
Developing a Sustainable Resort
Sustainability-related issues have been drawing considerable attention in the resort and hotel industry. This research explores the meaning of a “sustainable resort” and to identify the opportunities and challenges of developing a “sustainable resort” as well as the opportunities and challenges of engaging employees in this process, through a case study of a family resort in Central Ontario, Canada. A significant finding is that a “sustainable resort” in the context of a family business highlights cultural sustainability, which emphasizes on keeping family roots and passing on family legacy, as well as addresses economic, social, and environmental sustainability. The nature of the selected case, a traditional family resort, provides some valuable insights on the issues of sustainability and employee engagement in the resort and hotel industry. To improve sustainable outcomes for the resort, a holistic approach of collaborating with different key stakeholders, particularly emphasizing employee engagement as a core strategy, is proposed. Author Keywords: employee engagement, family resort, resort and hotel industry, sustainability, sustainable development
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
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
Examining the Role of Intermediary Organizations in Participatory Planning
This research evaluates the role of GreenUP, a non-profit in Peterborough, Ontario, as the intermediary organization for NeighbourPLAN. The project examines GreenUP’s role in facilitating and managing NeighbourPLAN, a participatory planning project with multiple local partners and actors. Six critical success factors are used to understand and conceptualize intermediary success (adapted from Holden et al., 2016). Critical success factors include knowledge; governance; relationships; resources; activities; and motivation. Findings from the research highlight the importance of trust, resources, and time within this framework. Author Keywords: Community Based Research, Intermediary, Neighbourhood, Non-profit, Participatory Planning, Partnership Structure
Exploring Kiki-Inoomgugaewin
This case study contributes to scholarship surrounding the national conversation on Indigenous language sustainability in North America. Much of this scholarship provides insight on structuring language programs and policies for youth, leaving a tremendous research gap regarding sociolinguistic and cultural research with youth. Youth appear disinterested or otherwise set apart in current research from the development of policies and curriculum concerned with heritage languages. Upon closer inspection; however, youth are engaged and using innovative and different tools than previous generations. This exploration is a foundational case study which builds upon research highlighting the nature of Indigenous language loss in the south as a time sensitive phenomenon as the application of cognitive imperialism and colonial tactics within mainstream schools continue to conceal a large scale cultural and linguistic genocide in Canada. Although Indigenous language loss may seem of concern to only small groups of linguists and dialectic communities, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about reconciliation or closing the tremendous gap in accessing equitable education. The preservation of Indigenous languages and knowledge systems should also be of interest to those parties who seek to comprehensively understand the Natural World and whom have a vested interest in the survival of the planet and protection of the enviroment. Because of these realities, the viewpoints and experiences of all concerned parties are essential. It follows then, that the youth perspective is significant. To address this gap, participatory narrative inquiry was used as a theoretical framework to conduct a foundational case study in which detailed consideration was given to exploring the lived narratives of three Anishnaabeg participants to establish the value of Indigenous youth voice in alternative forms of sociolinguistic and culturally sustainable language learning in the 21st century, and, to strengthen the argument that more research is needed in the field of first-person youth studies. The results of this case study will be useful, specifically, to localized communities of Anishnaabe youth with and for whom much of the research was conducted, and, more generally to youth resistance work focused on media and technology in globalized and contemporary language and cultural ecologies. Research outcomes indicated potential directions for future research in different contexts and localities by presenting commonalities within the fields of social and political engagement and their connection to language and new media in youth populations. It is hoped that this initial material pinpointing a research gap in Indigenous youth language studies will be used to investigate future research in this field. Author Keywords: Anishnaabe, Decolonization, Language, Sociolinguistics, Technology, Youth Studies
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
Factors Influencing the Prioritization of Sites for Conservation on Private Land in Southern Ontario
Conservation organizations use strategic prioritization methods to order complex environments, evaluate landscapes, and distribute efficiently resources for conservation. This study explores how strategic prioritization decisions are made, drawing on a case study of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). This thesis identifies the factors affecting prioritization and their influence on the public perception of the NCC. The case study revealed that the NCC utilizes comprehensive science-based methods when prioritizing for conservation but its methods are also influenced by the 'opportunity function' (funding, threats, public/political support). How these factors are communicated depends on the audience (e.g. NCC Conservation Blueprints stress the scientific value of the environment; the NCC uses its media sources to emphasize the human-environment connection). These differences indicate the multi-dimensional nature of planning for conservation, its links to values emerging from science, politics, and society, and the need for collaborative conservation efforts and earning and maintaining public trust. Author Keywords: biodiversity conservation priorities, collaboration, Nature Conservancy of Canada, opportunity function, private conservation organizations, science-based conservation
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
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

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