2018 Edition

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BORDERS AND SUSTAINABILITY

March 20–21, 2018
8th annual Sustainability Research Symposium at McGill

For the past eight years, the Sustainability Research Symposium has worked to create a temporary place ‘in between’ academic disciplines, where students can share ideas across faculties and different levels of study. In 2018, we are building on this tradition with the theme, “Borders and Sustainability”. 

Sustainability implies questions of borders, boundaries, and frontiers. Whether we’re talking about climate change, biodiversity loss, or pollution, environmental crises cross national borders. Much of the food, energy, and water we rely on flows across borders—as does our waste and pollution. New resource extraction frontiers are extending the boundaries of human environmental impacts. Globally, environmental crises have been described as a threat to ‘planetary boundaries’, as human impacts approach thresholds of the Earth’s systems. 

Borders—literal and metaphorical—are also at play in the human and social dimensions of sustainability. The human toll of environmental crises, and emerging needs of ‘climate refugees’, are bound up in issues of asylum,  migration, and human rights. Borderlands are contested, negotiated, and managed, implying questions of power and inequality. Borders need not be visible to structure our world and our thinking, and we include in this theme borders between human and non-human; culture and nature. 

While borderlands and frontiers pose unique challenges to managing for sustainability, borders are also sites of encounter and exchange. Solving global environmental problems requires cooperation across borders: between nations, sectors, disciplines, and peoples to care for a shared environment. Thinking about borders encourages us to consider the places in between, and ask where we might come together. 

2018 SPEAKERS AND SCHEDULE

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

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DR. JUANITA SUNDBERG, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

The Nature of Border Control: Walls, legal waivers, and the proliferation of insecurities for multispecies communities in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands

Boundary making and enforcement are more-than- human processes involving the often violent (re)configuration of interspecies relations. Indeed, I argue, boundary enforcement operations are mechanisms of multispecies worlding, practices that organize the world through onto-epistemological and material separations, distinctions, exclusions, and exceptions. This presentation examines the multispecies dimensions of the current boundary enforcement regime, which, according to Donald Trump, is committed to “complete operational control” of the border. Of particular importance are the legal waivers used by the Department of Homeland Security to build border infrastructure while avoiding legislation designed to regulate federal projects and govern relations with non-human worlds. My objective is to highlight the sustainability and environmental justice implications for intimately connected multispecies communities in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, composed of people, but also non-human animals, plants, and other beings living in relation to geologic and climatic processes.

Juanita Sundberg is Associate Professor of Geography and Latin American Studies at the University of British Columbia. She brings the insights of feminist political ecology and the sensibilities of an ethnographer to bear on nature conservation, settler colonialism, and militarized boundary enforcement. Dr. Sundberg is working on a book addressing the nature of geopolitics in the United States southern borderlands. The book draws on twelve years of research focusing on the environmental dimensions of U.S. border security in border protected areas, especially national wildlife refuges.

ACADEMIC AND COMMUNITY SPEAKERS

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DR. JOSEPH BENNETT, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY, CARLETON UNIVERSITY

Prioritizing management across borders – partnerships are crucial

It is well known that species do not respect international borders. This is particularly the case for migratory species. However, most conservation efforts are organized within national or even sub-national jurisdictions, because of legal mandates, convenience, or both. Our analysis of threatened species conservation in Canada suggests that a national-scale focus is leading to inefficient allocation of efforts. Only a small proportion of globally endangered species are being prioritized for management, while many species or subspecies that are common further south are instead being prioritized. More effective management involving cooperative priority setting across borders will help to save the species that are nearest to extinction. Similarly, our work using citizen science data to select the most important areas for bird conservation, suggests that management considering only breeding habitats in the US and Canada, or non-breeding habitats in Latin America, is far less efficient than management considering distributions across the full annual cycle. To achieve more efficient trans-national conservation, partnerships among all countries in the Americas will be crucial, and will require reciprocal material and intellectual support.

Joseph Bennett is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Environmental Science and Department of Biology at Carleton University. He is a co-director of the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Laboratory (GLEL), and an Associate Editor at the Journal of Applied Ecology. Research in his lab focuses on conservation prioritization, invasion ecology, optimal monitoring, biogeography and spatial statistics. Dr. Bennett has a particular interest in practical questions regarding management to protect threatened species and invasive species control. He also works on theoretical questions regarding the value of monitoring information and the determinants of community assembly in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

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DR. THERESA THOMPSON-COLÓN, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, SCHOOL OF HUMAN NUTRITION AND DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY, MCGILL UNIVERSITY

More Nutritious Potatoes Project: barriers and facilitators in scaling-up innovations for nutrition and food security in Colombia

In November 2015, the McGill Institute of Global Food Security, in collaboration with the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Bogotá), launched the More Nutritious Potatoes Project, a large-scale multidisciplinary research partnership for scaling-up an agricultural innovation of three new varieties of yellow potatoes (Criolla OcarinaCriolla Dorada, and Criolla Sua Pa) to tackle serious national challenges of malnutrition and food insecurity in Colombia. This project is centered on developing and implementing a conceptual model, undertaking a holistic, trans-disciplinary, and sustainable approach for escalating production, marketing, and consumption of the new potato varieties, and for shaping knowledge and public policies through education, multisector synergies, and stakeholder engagement to impact rural development. Thus, what began as a 28-month, ambitious effort has become an instrument of social change at multiple levels (e.g., increase in civic engagement, women’s empowerment, environment protection, practice of healthy living), and to a larger extent, a conceptual model that may be applied to other international development research initiative and intervention programs. Drawing key lessons from her participation in this project, Dr. Thompson-Colón will discuss barriers and facilitators in scaling-up innovations for rural development and food security and nutrition in Colombia, and provide examples of how the project team efforts turned the proposed scale-up model into successful outcomes.

Dr. Thompson-Colón is a Research Associate, affiliated to the McGill Institute for Global Food Security, with a joined appointment with the School of Human Nutrition and the Department of Sociology. With more than 20 years of international research experience leading complex data collection efforts in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean region, and West Africa, Dr. Thompson-Colón is well-versed in survey methods and practices, stirring her expertise, more recently, into designing and conducting rigorous program evaluations. Dr. Thompson-Colón holds a master and doctorate degrees in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Business Administration degree from the University of Puerto Rico.

JOHN ONAWARIO CREE, TRADITIONAL LONGHOUSE BEAR CLAN FAITHKEEPER

John Onawario Cree was born at home in Kanehsatake, Mohawk Territory and raised by his grandparents. In 2005, Onawario was hired as a Grandfather (Elder) to share traditional teachings with Indigenous inmates through Corrections Services Canada, from the minimum to the Super Maximum Special Handling Unit in Ste. Anne des Plaines, Quebec.

Onawario is happily married to his wife Linda, parents of four children, grandparents to 9 precious grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Onawario still manages to do what he loves best – growing the “Three Sisters” – Indian white corn, beans and squash, traditional Grandfather tobacco and in the Spring, teaching his children, grandchildren, and children in the community how to make maple syrup on his land in Kanehsatake.

DAY 1 SCHEDULE

09:00 Coffee and registration
09:30 Welcoming address by Mr. John Cree
09:45 Opening remarks
10:00 Keynote speaker: Dr. Juanita Sundberg, University of British Columbia
10:45 Coffee break
11:00 Academic talk: Dr. Joe Bennett, Carleton University
11:30 Academic talk: Dr. Theresa Thomson-Colón, McGill University
12:00 Lunch
13:00 Panel discussion
14:00 Dr. Heather McShane, McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative
14:15 Student talks
14:45 Coffee break
15:00 Poster session, wine & cheese and networking
16:15 Poster winner and closing remarks

Find abstracts and ore details on speakers here.

DAY 2 SCHEDULE

DAY #2 WILL BE FACILITATED BY CHRISTIE HUFF. CHRISTIE IS JOINING THE SYMPOSIUM FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW.

christieChristie Huff is a process consultant who specializes in developing capacity in the education and community sectors to develop and evaluate social impact initiatives. She loves to design and facilitate virtual and in-person gatherings that lead participants to generate innovative solutions to complex issues. Christie’s lifelong learning journey includes Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Commerce and a Master’s degree in Human Systems Intervention. You can contact her at christiehuffconsulting@gmail.com.

9:00 Coffee and registration
9:30 Opening remarks – Setting the purpose of the day
9:45 Participant introductions
10:10 Where does McGill stand in terms of sustainability efforts?
10:45 Coffee break / Instant coding
11:00 Comparison with last year’s result – what does it say about McGill?
11:10 Why is change is needed and what is needed?
11:30 Open space
12:00 Lunch
12:45 Strategy and project development
1:30 Presentations, collective cognition, and ways forward
2:30 Closing remarks

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS FOR 2018

McGill Faculty of Science

McGill Office of Student Life and Learning

McGill Department of Geography

McGill Faculty of Law

McGill Geographic Information Centre

2018 SRS ORGANIZING TEAM

In the past five editions, this unique symposium has welcomed over 500 participants from more than 20 departments at McGill, and featured 80 student poster presentations and 12 keynote speakers from McGill as well as other leading research institutions.

PENNY BEAMES — PROJECT LEAD COORDINATOR

Penny Beames, project lead coordinator

Penny is a masters student in McGill’s Global Land and Water Lab. Her particular focus is on how dam development impacts people and ecosystems, and how comprehensive global dam datasets can improve everything from transboundary river sharing to climate and hydrological modeling. Her work blends a background in political ecology with global physical data science. She developed a commitment to sustainability and an international focus through academic and professional experience in Canada and Southeast Asia. This is Penny’s first year as Lead Coordinator; she benefits from the institutional knowledge of fellow coordinators who have built the Sustainability Research Symposium over the past eight years.

LAURENCE CÔTÉ-ROY — SUPPORTING MEMBER

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Laurence is a PhD student in urban geography at McGill. Her research focuses on new cities built from scratch in the Kingdom of Morocco, and looks at the official discourse supporting these resource intensive projects. Her academic interests lay in the architectural and cultural symbolism in cities, policy analysis and governance challenges of new master-planned developments. She has previously participated in research programs looking at Francophone identity and urban renewal for the University of Ottawa, as well as media representation of biodiversity for the Université de Montréal. Her undergraduate degree was in Geography and Urban Planning from Université de Montréal. Laurence has been involved with SRS for two years.

MELISSA KARINE WARD — ACADEMIC COORDINATOR

melissa_srs_photoMelissa is a PhD student trying to understand the impacts, thresholds and feedbacks of how melting ground ice, driven by climate change, is changing the landscape of the Fosheim Peninsula, located at 80°N on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. From seeing the extent of change within the Arctic, Melissa is passionate about engaging and being involved with sustainability efforts when she is south. This is her fourth year involved with SRS and as the Academic coordinator she hopes to bring together speakers from a variety of disciplines and experiences for an interesting and engaging symposium. In her spare time Melissa loves the outdoors, knitting, horseback riding and is a big foodie.

ELLIE STEPHENSON — COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR

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Ellie is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography working under the supervision of Dr. George Wenzel. Her research focuses on the politics of food and food security in Arctic Canada. She has previously collaborated on research about food security and environmental change in the Arctic and Himalayas, and impacts of energy development in Western Canada. She is an avid photographer.

RACHEL TODD — DAY TWO COORDINATOR (UNDERGRADUATE REP)

 Rachel is a third year undergraduate student studying psychology. In addition to her interest in understanding how the brain works and what makes people tick Rachel is passionate about the environment. She loves the urban life of Montreal but has concerns over the missed opportunities for sustainability within the city environment. She sees the potential to address new approaches for sustainable futures in urban settings through social action. This is Rachel’s first year involved in the project and she is looking forward to the opportunity to work alongside and idea share with some of McGill’s brightest.

MYRIAM ROBITAILLE — DAY TWO COORDINATOR (UNDERGRADUATE REP)

Myriam is a third year undergraduate student in honours translation with a minor in social entrepreneurship. Although her first passion is writing she has always had an attachment to the environment. She is interested in empowering people in their everyday lives to create a better today and tomorrow. Her enthusiasm for sustainability fits hand in hand with her desire to make progressive change through policy making and governmental action. This year marks Myriam’s first involvement with the SRS and she couldn’t be more excited to be taking part.

GABRIELLA FANOUS — LOGISTICS COORDINATOR

 Gabriella is currently a Master’s student in Geography. Her research explores the mechanisms through which open government data realizes improvements in governance, and catalyzes innovation. She loves maps and in her spare times enjoys yoga, reading and traveling.

JOANNA ONDRUSEK-ROY— COMMUNICATIONS AND SOCIAL MEDIA

DSC_0786 (1).jpgJoanna is a first year masters student in the Department of Geography working under the supervision of Sarah Moser. Her research is focused on urban trends in the Global South and more specifically, understanding the drivers and impacts of new master planned cities in Tanzania. She is passionate about environmental issues and has volunteered with various wildlife conservation organizations in South Africa and Kenya, where she spent most of her childhood. In her spare time Joanna paints watercolor portraits and enjoys rock climbing at her local bouldering gym.

JULIA ASKEW— SOCIAL MEDIA

JuliaAskew.jpgJulia is a fourth year undergraduate student with a major in psychology and a minor in environmental sciences. Although her main academic interest is understanding the neural circuitry underlying behaviour, Julia is passionate about the environment. She believes that it is our responsibility to invest in sustainability research so that we can limit the effects of climate change. Julia grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, and enjoys skiing and hiking in her spare time.

ADITYA JAIN- SEDE, FIRST NATIONS LIAISON

Aditya_SRS.jpgAditya is a graduate student in Bioresource Engineering at McGill University. His areas of interest include environmental assessment, stakeholder inclusion, and sustainable systems. This is his first year with SRS and as the SEDE and First Nations liaison he hopes to bring crucial perspectives for an inclusive symposium. In his spare time Aditya loves the outdoors and is a big foodie.

HANNAH WHITLAW- SOCIAL MEDIA 

SRSphoto.pngHannah is a third year student in the school of environment studying environment and development with a minor in urban systems. She is passionate about sustainable living both in urban and rural contexts, founded on community involvement and action. She has a particular interest in permaculture design and urban agriculture, emphasizing respect of indigenous lands and traditional practices. This is Hannah’s first year with the SRS and she is thrilled to be a part of the project.

SPENCER NELSON- OUTREACH

22135386_10207849359830726_7441800633213252222_oSpencer is a firstyear MA student in geography under the supervision of Natalie Oswin. He is interested in urban policy, planetary urbanism, and queer geographies.His previous research was on globalization and gentrification of gay villages. Spencer is particularly interested in sustainability as it pertains to urban and queer political ecologies, sustainable (sub)urban development.

LUCY LU- GRANT PROPOSAL ASSISTANT, VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR

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Lucy is a first year masters student in the Department of Geography working under Tim Moore. Her research focuses on biogeochemical processes affecting the movement of dissolved organic carbon in bog systems, specifically at Mer Bleue near Ottawa. She’s interested to understanding how climate change has affected environmental systems and subsequently the people who depend on it. She enjoys drawing, yoga, and sewing.

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Rémi is a first year Master’s student in the Department of Geography working under the supervision of Prof. Graham MacDonald. His research aims to understand how global fertilizer use contributes to the production of healthy and nutritious food. He is passionate about new perspectives on global sustainability, especially regarding agriculture, human well-being, and the environment. In his free time, Remi enjoys swimming, gardening, and hiking.

PATRICK SLACK- SUPPORTING MEMBERSlack_2015 (2).jpg

Patrick is a first year masters student in McGill’s Department of Geography and in The Minorities in Southeast Asian Massif research lab.  His research focuses on non-timber forest product impacts on ethnic minority livelihoods and food security in northern Vietnam.  Patrick’ commitment to sustainability is derived from previous studies in international agriculture and various project work across international and domestic scales addressing food security, capacity building, and conservation agriculture.

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