External research funding for FES projects since 2000 has reached more than 20 million dollars. This tells us what we already know: that research is at the heart of FES. The time and effort faculty members devote to securing research funding helps faculty and students engage in the innovative research that defines the Faculty, and the diversity and scope of the successful projects – and of the granting institutions – showcases the interdisciplinarity and the broad relevance of our work.

Funds raised though major grants, while designated for particular projects, benefit the entire Faculty. They help put FES in the spotlight by highlighting the work we do. They also help foster the general research culture in the Faculty. Research culture goes far beyond the amount of money raised from external sources, and it is clear from the wide array of seminar series, conferences and publications that emerge from the Faculty that FES has one of the most diverse and active research cultures at York. By showcasing the success of these major grant holders we celebrate the continuing development of that research culture and the many innovative and exciting activities it supports and inspires.

New / Ongoing / Completed
A Collaborative, Interdisciplinary Approach to Bumble Bee Conservation in Canada

PI: Sheila Colla

W. Garfield Weston Foundation 2015-2019/Liber Ero Foundation 2015-2016

Canada has over 40 species of bumble bee with approximately 1/3 exhibiting evidence of decline. Research projects include investigating threats to declining species, identifying knowledge gaps and informing future conservation management plans for government and environmental NGOs (ENGOs). The project is involved in a continent-wide citizen science program called in collaboration with other ENGOs and universities. The data will be used to investigate bumble bee community changes at landscape scales, locate rare species, and document the spread of invasive species over the long term.

Assessing the Relationship between Internal Ferrous Iron Loading and Cyanobacteria Bloom Formation in Lake Winnipeg

PI: Lewis Molot

Environment Canada (EC) Lake Winnipeg Basin Stewardship Fund December 2010-March 2012

The research aimed to quantify internal loading rates of iron and phosphorus by measuring iron and phosphorus release from sediment cores collected at several stations throughout the study sites. The project provided insights on the conditions that directly lead to bloom formation and enhanced research and monitoring capacity to assist in policy decision making at local and provincial levels.

Assessment of Ecological Footprint Methodology

PI: Peter Victor

Statistics Canada September 2007-March 2008

The workshop examined the conceptual basis, methodology, data requirements and availability for estimating Canada’s ecological footprint. It aimed to critically review the conceptual foundation, assumption and methodology of Canadian ecological footprint.

Bodymapping, Self-Narrative and Treatment Literacy: An Exploratory Study of Participant Experiences

PI: Sarah Flicker Co-PIs: Mira Mehes (MES), Eric Mykhalovskiy (York), Tricia Smith, Cortleigh Teolis and Darien Taylor (CATIE)

Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) and Canadian Aids Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE) March 2008-March 2010

Bodymapping combines a process of storytelling, drawing and group discussion led by a trained facilitator through which participants develop an understanding of themselves, their bodies and their social environment. The study explored how connections between different ways of knowing were negotiated through body mapping processes. More information is available at

Building Substantive Transparency: Electoral Process, Oil Revenue and Democratic Governance in the Niger Delta of Nigeria and Gulf of Guinea

Anna Zalik and Ike Okonta New Centre for Social Research and Social Action Integrated Development Centre, Nigeria

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2011-March 2016

The project examined the implications of initiatives that sought substantive transparency for democratic leadership, shared prosperity and energy security in Nigeria and globally. Grounded in the literature and conceptual approaches to the political economy of oil, and democratization and development, the research identified prospects for innovative synergies between these different transparency initiatives to promote a more coherent regulatory framework and increased public access to information.

Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Sustainability and Culture

PI: Catriona Sandilands

Canada Research Chairs (CRC) January 2004-December 2014

The CRC aimed to develop an interdisciplinary approach to sustainability and culture – investigating relations between environmental literature and environmental politics. The research emphasized writing as an analytical realm and research tool to explore environmental cultures and conflicts – probing humanities’ contribution to sustainability and role of literary activity in promoting and extending the environmental public sphere. The project established a Sustainable Writing Lab (SWL) which serves as a resource in the Faculty designed to encourage students, faculty members and others to consider, critically and creatively, the role of writing and literature in environmental studies scholarship (it is not a technical support). The SWL sponsors speakers, holds regular workshops, runs a writing group for members of FES to critique each other’s creative and expository works, and maintains ten laptop computers that are available to all faculty and students to borrow for extended periods for writing-related research, performance, etc.

Canadian Polar Bear Body Condition

PI: Greg Thiemann

Environment Canada (EC) February 2011-March 2015

The project monitored trends in the nutritional condition of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic and examined the relationships between body condition and ongoing environmental change.

Changing Urban Waterfronts

PI: Gene Desfor Co-PIs: Tenley Conway and W. Scott Prudham Collaborators: Gail Fraser, Adrian Ivakhiv, John Jorgensen and Michael Moir

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2005-March 2010

The overarching question the research addressed was: How have various discourses and practices combined to produce and regulate Toronto's waterfront as a socio-economic and ecological space? Two books have been released as a result of the study: Transforming Urban Waterfronts: Fixity and Flow (2010) edited by Gene Desfor, Jennefer Laidley, Quentin Stevens and Dirk Schubert and Reshaping Toronto’s Waterfront (2011) edited by Gene Desfor and Jennefer Laidley.

Climate Change Impact and Adaptation Research

Co-PIs: Kaz Higuchi, Jim Maclellan and Neil Comer

Environment Canada (EC) January 2008-December 2011

The project aimed at identifying and assessing various methodological approaches for analyzing and encouraging the development of a reflexive institutional approach for supporting climate change research, ecojustice, and sustainability initiatives at York.

Collaborative Research for Equitable Public Participation in Watershed Governance: Canada, Brazil, Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya

PI: Ellie Perkins

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2009-March 2010

The project aimed to develop an international research network on equitable participatory watershed management, including English and Portuguese-speaking African, Brazilian and Canadian academics as well as NGOs working in the field.

Community-Based Environmental Education and Mobilization in Marginalized Urban Communities for Equitable Watershed Governance

PI: Ellie Perkins

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2011-March 2013

The project employed a participatory methodology focusing on urban watershed issues and challenges as identified by community members. The methods and materials developed in community-run workshops, and environmental and civic engagement initiatives with adults and seniors in neighborhoods near York were disseminated nationally and internationally via community organizations’ websites as well as academic and professional publications.

Community-Based Monitoring of Ice-Breeding Seals and Polar Bear Feeding in the Gulf of Boothia

Greg Thiemann and Steven Ferguson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) April 2012-March 2016

The study investigated the health and ecology of seal populations in the Gulf of Boothia and collected information on seals to allow monitoring of the foraging habits of polar bears. A collaborative partnership with the community of Kugaaruk was done to carry out a community‐based monitoring program to collect biological information and samples from seals harvested in the Gulf of Boothia.

Comparing Metropolitan Governance in Transatlantic Perspective: Toronto, Montreal, Paris and Frankfurt

PI: Roger Keil Co-PIs: Stepfan Kipfer, Julie-Anne Boudreau and Pierre Hamel

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2007-March 2011

A comparative investigation of the globally-induced transformation of metropolitan governance systems in Toronto, Montreal, Paris and Frankfurt. The project focused on the urban region with its growing web of metropolitan governance. The emergence of collective action at the metropolitan level in Canada and Europe were examined through infrastructure, public health, green space, and human security.

Contested Countryside: Land use conflicts in Southern Ontario

Gerda Wekerle Anders Sandberg, Stephen Bocking and Stephen Hill (Trent University)

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2012-March 2017

The project examines the complex environmental, political, social and economic relations concerning controversies that implicate rural and urban regions and communities. It focuses on two dimensions of complexity: (1) evolving rural-urban relations through conflicts over land use and/or local development initiatives; and (2) role played by knowledge-based authority in these conflicts whether constructed on the basis of scientific expertise or attachment to place.

Creative Tensions of Community Arts in Popular Education: A Transnational Study of the Americas

PI: Deborah Barndt

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2004-March 2008 (Extended: 2009)

This transnational research project involved collaborators in Toronto, Los Angeles as well as Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama in an examination of the intersection between popular education and community arts practice among pluriethnic and diasporic populations in northern and southern contexts. It provided information on the work of popular educators, community artists, organizers and cultural studies theorists as they addressed social, political and economic interests across an increasingly integrated hemisphere, with increasingly globalized social movements. A published book titled ¡VIVA! Community Arts and Popular Education in the Americas (2011) provides compelling case studies of groups in Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, the United States, and Canada using the arts for education, community development, and social movement building.

Critical Approaches to Youth HIV Prevention, Support and Community-Based Research

PI: Sarah Flicker

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) July 2008-March 2011

The research aimed to evaluate effective methods of stimulating and supporting ethical policy-relevant community-based research in Canada as well as to develop innovative models of HIV prevention and support programs for youth at the local and global levels.

Crossing Boundaries: Encounters with Urban Wildlife in the Greater Toronto Area

Co-PIs: Leesa Fawcett and Justin Podur PI: Susan Ruddick (University of Toronto)

University of Toronto/Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) August 2015-March 2018

The project aims to enhance scholarly understanding of cities as wild spaces and foster and strengthen interdisciplinary connections and expertise (of both faculty and students) on the subject; create and promote a network of academics and non-academics involved in enhancement of cities as places for wildlife; advance scholarly understanding of the interweave of human-nature relationships; and provide a comprehensive, empirically grounded micro and macro analysis of attitudes and practices of residents, and key intervening organizations towards wildlife across the region over the past 15 years.

Effects of Experimental Sulfate Additions on Nutrient Cycling, Cyanobacterial Abundunce and Mercury Methylation Lake 227, Experimental Lakes Area

Co-PI: Lewis Molot

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) September 2009- 2012

The research aimed to assess the effect of sulphate levels on several impacts associated with excessive fertilization of lakes. The study was conducted in a remote, fishless lake in northwestern Ontario’s Experimental Lakes Area. Sulphate was believed to play a key role in regulating various microbial processes in North American lakes and the differences in sulphate concentrations explained  the variance among individual lakes.

Environmental Assessment Processes of Canadian Frontier Oil and Gas

PI: Gail Fraser Co-PIs: Anna Zalik and Angela Carter (University of Waterloo)

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2009-March 2015 Extended: 2016

The project aims to create a pan-Canadian network for communities to share information and experiences about oil and gas developments and to provide analysis to inform environmental policy at the provincial and federal levels. The mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students involved in the project serves to train the next generation of critical Canadian oil scholars.

Environmental Justice for Métis Women & Youth as HIV Prevention

Sarah Flicker and Jessica Yee (Native Youth Sexual Health Network) M.K. Anderson, Erin Konsmo, Jennifer Rankin

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) January 2011-September 2012

This initiative explored how Métis women and youth understandings of 'place' (as a social determinant of health) impacted on their ability to exercise sexual and reproductive health rights that created conditions of vulnerability to HIV.

Environmental Stewardship and Product Branding - Modeling GWP Reductions Associated with Sub-Watershed - Wide Transition to Organic Farming

Co-PIs: Rod MacRae and Martin Bunch

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC) April 2010-March 2012

Three selected sub-watersheds from across Canada were modeled for global warming potential (GWP) reductions associated with full transition to organic agriculture, using field-generated data from cluster partners, existing geospatial data, and existing knowledge of the transition from conventional to organic land use. The work furthered understanding of the potential environmental benefits associated with widespread adoption of organic farming, a topic for which little research has been carried out in Canada.

Exurbia and its impact on environment and politics in the Lake Simcoe Watershed

PI: Laura Taylor Co-PI: Martin Bunch

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2011-March 2014

The study explored the impact of exurbia within the Lake Simcoe watershed. A comprehensive look at the process of exurbanization and its impact on environment and politics in the area was taken. Drawing on traditions from urban and regional planning, cultural geography, landscape ecology and political ecology, the project considered the governance and land use planning context, landscape analysis including ecology, and analysis of residents’ attitudes towards local nature and the global environment.

From Rubble to Refuge: Ecological Restoration and the Aggregate Product Cycle in Toronto, Canada

PI: Jennifer Foster Co-PI: Anders Sandberg

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2008-March 2012

The research aimed to advance knowledge and understanding of the relationship between urban industrialization and environment naturalization in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). It used the aggregate product cycle as a case study to explore the reconstitution of the urban landscape and the ways aesthetic conceptualizations of urban space affected conversion of industrial sites into ecological habitats.

Global Suburbanisms: Governance, Land, and Infrastructure in the 21st century

PI: Roger Keil Co-PIs: Ute Lehrer, Lisa Drummond, Shubhra Gururani, and Douglas Young Collaborators: Liette Gilbert and Stefan Kipfer (York)

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2010-March 2018

Urbanization is at the core of the global economy today. Yet, the crucial aspect of 21st century urban development is suburbanization – defined as an increase in non-central city population and economic activity, as well as urban spatial expansion. It includes all manner of peripheral growth: from the wealthy gated communities of Southern California, to the high rise-dominated suburbs of Europe and Canada, the exploding outskirts of Indian and Chinese cities, and the slums and squatter settlements in Africa and Latin America. Suburbanism is the growing prevalence of qualitatively distinct ‘suburban ways of life’. This Major Collaborative Research Initiative is the first major research project to systematically take stock of worldwide developments.  Recent forms of urbanization and emerging forms of (sub)urbanism are analyzed as well as the dilemmas of aging suburbanity. Broad focus is made on the governance of suburbanization, that is, efforts to guide and regulate its development. It involves state, market and civil society actors and implies democratic deliberation and social conflict. The categories land, which includes housing, shelter systems, real estate, greenbelts, megaprojects, and infrastructure, including transportation, water and social services, serve as the two prime anchors upon which specific research projects are hinged. Examination of Canadian suburbanization and suburbanism will serve as a basis and comparative “control” case to understand suburbanization in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Green Economic Macro-Model and Accounts (GEMMA)

Peter Victor and Eric Miller Tim Jackson (University of Surrey, UK)

CIGI/INET and Metcalf Foundation 2011-2012

The project aimed to analyse the possibility of achieving economic and financial stability, high employment and good social outcomes, in the presence of clearly defined resource and environmental limits, even if these mean some limits to economic growth. GEMMA was designed for policymakers, scholars, and the engaged public to explore these scenarios.

Green Words, Green Worlds: Environmental Literatures and Politics in Canada

PI: Cate Sandilands Collaborators: Ella Soper-Jones and Joshua Russell

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2011-March 2012

A public forum, conference, and workshop sponsored by the Sustainable Writing Laboratory (SWL) held on October 21-23, 2011 in Toronto. The conference-workshop aimed to consider what politicizing the environmental aesthetic might mean in the context of public culture, politics, and the environmental imagination by Canadian writers and scholars on the subject of Canadian literatures.

Human Well-being, Ecosystem Services & Watershed Management in Credit River Valley: Web-Distributed Mechanism and Indicators for Communication and Awareness

Co-PIs: Martin Bunch and Karen Morrison

Brock University – Water Economics, Policy, and Governance Network/Credit Valley Conservation Authority (CVC) September 2015-August 2018

The importance of ecosystem services to human well-being, and of the management of water and other watershed resources in maintaining such services, is not commonly understood by the general public, and not well-enough articulated by environmental management and governance organizations. Beneficiaries of such services are often unaware of the nature of their dependence upon supporting ecosystems. This is particularly true in urbanized watersheds, to the point where researchers discuss “nature deficit disorder” as an aspect of this disconnection. Watershed management organizations are aware of such benefits to watershed residents, but they very rarely track and report measures of human well-being to demonstrate the efficacy of their work. This project will address both sides of this issue by identifying indicators of human well-being associated with ecosystem services, including economic valuations, developing an internet-based tool to communicate these indicators, and assessing the efficacy of this tool in an application to the Credit River Watershed, Southern Ontario.

Improving Accessibility of Research Ethics Boards for Community-Based Research in Canada

Sarah Flicker, Robb Travers (Laurier), Stephanie Ann Nixon (UofT), Jacqueline Gahagan (Dalhousie), Catherine Anne Worthington (UCalgary), Louise Binder (CTAC), Adrian Guta, UofT, and Mike Wilson (OHTN) Sarah Flicker, Robb Travers (Laurier), Stephanie Ann Nixon (UofT), Jacqueline Gahagan (Dalhousie), Catherine Anne Worthington (UCalgary), Louise Binder (CTAC), Adrian Guta, UofT, and Mike Wilson (OHTN)

Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) April 2008-March 2011

The research aimed to provide a platform that advocates for a dual focus on community and individual rights in community-based research (CBR) that respects multiple ethical norms and traditions. Reviews of current Research Ethics Board (REB) practices were conducted in Canada to explore common HIV/AIDS related CBR ethical dilemmas and to develop and pilot test an assessment tool for CBR ethics review.

In-Between Infrastructure: Urban Connectivity in an Age of Vulnerability

PI: Roger Keil Co-PIs: Engin Isin, Patricia Wood, Douglas Young, and John Saunders

Infrastructure Canada Peer Reviewed Research Studies Program May 2006-March 2009

With city planning focused primarily on the downtown and suburban regions, what lies "in between" has yet to be explored. Using the region surrounding York University, this research project investigated the relationships between investments in highways, airports, institutions and industrial structures, and the frequently under-serviced residential and natural areas that lie among them. An edited book In-Between Infrastructure: Urban Connectivity in an Age of Vulnerability (2011) tells the story of Canada’s contemporary urbanization. Between the “glamour zones” of the “creative” inner (global) city economies on one end and the sprawling new regional economies on the other, there is now a new set of sociospatial arrangements that characterize the current period of urban expansion more than others called "in-between cities". These spaces now appear as the most dynamic and problematic forms of (sub)urbanization. The book presents a focus on infrastructures in the in-between city and features original chapters by some of Canada’s leading urban thinkers as well as new voices in the debate.

Investigating Regulatory Chill: Understanding Contemporary Constraints on Regulatory Decision-Making to Protect the Environment

Dayna Nadine Scott

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2012-March 2015 The research aimed to critically investigate the role of investor rights provisions in trade and investment agreements in the ability and/or willingness of Canadian law makers to enact tough environmental laws. The research focused on trade and investment regimes and how they affected regulatory decision-making with respect to the environment, primarily in cases of resource extraction.

IRENA Policy Advisory Services and Capacity Building

Jose Etcheverry

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) September 2011-April 2012

IRENA is an intergovernmental organization that aims to promote widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy. The project supported the establishment of a renewable energy learning portal towards the creation of a global network of students interested in further education and training on sustainable energy.

Mainstreaming the Ontario Renewable Energy Program within the Municipal and Private Sectors

Jose Etcheverry, Mark Winfield, Farid Bensebaa, Tyler Hamilton, and Peter Love

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2011-March 2013

The project aimed to support the application of sustainable energy policies and technologies in the development of the renewable energy market in Ontario. The activity also aimed at expanding public knowledge about existing renewable energy programs and training graduate students on knowledge mobilization techniques focused on sustainable energy issues.

Marvellous Grounds: Queer of Colour Imaginaries of the Toronto Gay Village

PI: Jin Haritaworn

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant (IDG) June 2014-May 2017

This project is a case study of queer of colour engagements with the Church and Wellesley area in Toronto. The area, often referred to as the ‘gay Village’, is commonly associated with non-heterosexual populations that are assumed to be white, male and middle-class, and assimilated within neoliberal visions of the city. Less awareness exists of the fact that the Village is also the setting for diverse projects and practices that exceed this homogenous imaginary. These artistic and activist projects are multi-issue and multi-sited and complicate dominant ideals of queer space that aim to territorialize a singular notion of ‘gay community’. They rehome bodies that are considered out of place within gentrified ideals of residency, citizenship and urban planning. Rather than serving the beautification of the Village or the public demonstration of gay Pride, these projects have put the spotlight on such issues as policing, violence against transgender sex workers and the displacement of queer of colour youth, including from spaces designated as ‘LGBT’.

Memory, Urban Violence and Performance in Jamaica

PI: Honor Ford-Smith

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2008-March 2012

The research aimed to document ways in which communities perform their responses to violence in practices of remembering and forgetting. It also reviewed these performances against official responses to national inquiries and media reports, as well as analyzed the relationship between performed practices of remembering and forgetting in the reproduction of urban violence.

Modeling Forest Fires and Area Burned for Sustainable Forest Management

Justin Podur

Natural Sciences and Humanities Research Council (NSERC) April 2008-March 2013

The research aimed to provide an improved understanding of fire activity under climate change and fire suspension as well as to contribute to a more informed decision making-processes for sustainable development in forest management.

Normative Application for Ecological Economics and the Tools for Its Assessment

PI: Peter Victor

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2010-March 2012

The research examined the relationship between complexity and ethics within the general framework of the moral foundations of ecological economics. The project extended the macroeconomic model LowGrow, including re-specification and/or re-estimation of equations with a capacity to represent Canada’s ‘fair’ share of planetary boundaries, disaggregation of investment, and explicit representation of the financial sector.

Ontario EcoSchools

PI: Lewis Molot

Ontario Ministry of Education (EDU) June 2007-June 2017

As part of the government’s strategic commitment to environmental education, the yearly funding is used to build capacity for environmental education and action in Ontario schools such as curriculum development, certification programs, upgrading French language resources, web development and outreach activities across the province.

Particulate Organic Carbon (POC) Formation and Phosphorus/Iron Supply Ratios Along pH and Trophic Gradients in Lakes

PI: Lewis Molot

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) April 2001-March 2019

This is an extended research project on particulate organic carbon formation and production of labile iron in boreal streams to a broader range of lake and stream types along trophic and pH gradients. The project is intended to provide critical biogeochemical information that is directly relevant to climate change scientists, freshwater ecologists and environmental managers.

Predator-Prey Interactions in Dynamic Arctic Ecosystems

Greg Thiemann

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) April 2009-March 2015

The research aimed to identify the natural and anthropogenic factors that influenced predator foraging over multiple temporal and spatial scales. It produced improved and innovative methods for studying the foraging habits of free-ranging predators (i.e., polar bears, wolves and wolverines).

Predicting the Influence of Mixing Hydrodynamics and Food Web Structure on Spatial Variability of Phosphorous Concentrations in Lake Simcoe

Lewis Molot

Environment Canada (EC)/Ontario Ministry of Environment (ENE) January 2010-March 2012

The project applied lessons learned in developing the Estuary and Lake Computer Model (ELCOM) hydrodynamic 3D model and Computational Aquatic Ecosystem Dynamics (CAEDYM) biological/biogeochemical models for Lakes Erie and Ontario to Lake Simcoe. It examined the effects of climate change, biological community structure and phosphorus concentrations on oxygen depletion offshore and macrophyte growth and fish habitat inshore.

Quantification of the Internal Phosphorus Load in Lake Simcoe to Improve Phosphorus Budgets

PI: Lewis Molot

Environment Canada (EC) September 2010-March 2011

The project assembled historical data, including oxygen and temperature profiles, external phosphorus and water loads, to calculate, compare and determine contribution to water total phosphorus concentration

Reconciling Canada: Non-Aboriginal Discourses and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Ravi De Costa and Tom Clark, University of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2010-March 2011 (Extended/Renewal: April 2011-March 2016

The research explores non-Aboriginal attitudes towards Canadian reconciliation agenda in an international-comparative perspective. It argues that reconciliation as both public policy and social goal is highly dependent on a much greater consciousness of the ideological processes of non-Aboriginal communities in Canada. Moreover, a key to understanding reconciliation as both public policy and social goal is to explore public discourse within a moment of concern or obligation.

Renewable Energy Road Map

PI: Jose Etcheverry Collaborators: Lynda O’Malley and Jenifer Taylor (MES students)

Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) March 2008-March 2009

The project identified effective approaches and strategies to increase renewable energy implementation rates through research and consultation with international/national industry experts, government regulators, NGOs, academics and community experts. It aimed at expanding the market for related technologies in Ontario particularly within the Greater Golden Horseshoe region. More information can be found in the report titled Ontario’s  Road Map to Prosperity: Developing Renewable Energy to its Full Potential (2009) highlighting specific collaborative areas in which agencies such as TRCA can continue to lead to ensure the adoption of renewable energy and a successful and sustained transition to a more prosperous, resilient and ecologically sound society.

SARS and the Global City: The Case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Toronto

Co-PIs: Harris Ali and Roger Keil

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2004-March 2009

The research explored the direct connection between global city formation and the way in which SARS affected the city of Toronto. Issues arising in this inquiry included how the global city network facilitated worldwide microbial traffic, and the implications for institutional governance and regulation concerning urban vulnerability and public health security. A book on Networked Disease Emerging Infections in the Global City (2010) presents original contributions by scholars from seven countries on four continents and examines the impact of globalization on future infectious disease threats on international and local politics and culture. It also employs an interdisciplinary approach to the SARS epidemic, clearly demonstrating the value of social scientific perspectives on the study of modern disease in a globalized world

Sharing Research Findings in the Canadian Arctic: Assessing the Integration of Inuit Knowledge in Policy Communications about Climate Change Related Food Insecurity

Co-PIs: Rachel Hirsch and Martin Bunch

Social Humanities and Research Council (SSHRC) April 2011-March 2014 Extended: March 2016

The research explored how integration of various types of knowledge – indigenous, local, government, scientific – facilitated or constrained communications about food insecurity decision making. The project linked completed research, policies currently in place and being developed, and actual practices of communities to promote ecological and human well-being in the face of changing environment.

Social Sustainability, Diversity, and Public Space in Three Canadian Cities

PI: Barbara Rahder Co-PIs: Liette Gilbert, Ranu Basu, Susan McGrath, and Patricia Wood

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2006-March 2010 (Extended: 2011)

The project used participatory research to examine how well urban public spaces are actually meeting the needs of diverse communities in Canada, and how planning for social sustainability and diversity might better address the needs of a diverse urban populace. The project involved diverse low-income communities in Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary that explored their experiences and perceptions of public space, mapped the opportunities and barriers they encountered within the city, and articulated what needs to change to promote a more equitable and sustainable urban future.

Strengthening the Role of Civil Society in Water Sector Governance Towards Climate Change Adaptation in African Cities: Durban, Maputo and Nairobi

Ellie Perkins University of Kwazulu-Natal, University of Nairobi, Eduardo Mondlane University, Community Development Foundation, IUCN Mozambique, Jubilee South Africa.

International Development Research Centre (IDRC) - Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) February 2010-February 2013

This CCAA research and capacity development program links civil society organizations, universities, local governments, students, and low-income community groups in the search for governance structures that enable civil society groups to play an active part in urban water governance and urban water policy making. The project will open up opportunity for learning and capacity building of civil society organizations in the three cities to address climate change vulnerabilities in urban Africa. The research resulted in an edited book titled Water and Climate Change in Africa: Challenges and community initiatives in Durban, Maputo and Nairobi that gives examples of ways in which a range of local community organizations are extending their current activities to address these challenges through innovative new programs and initiatives at the grassroots.

Suburban Identities in the Global City Between Competition and Cooperation: Toronto and Frankfurt

PI: Ute Lehrer Co-PI: Roger Keil

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2011-March 2017

This research project brings together academics from York University in Toronto and from Goethe University in Frankfurt to examine how supportive policy environments in commercial and residential land development, security and transportation infrastructure are created in decentralized mid-size suburban municipalities in the Frankfurt and Toronto regions. The research will study how these municipalities react to the challenges of belonging geographically and functionally to a global city region.

Sustainable Neighborhood Retrofit Action Plan (SNAP): Program Evaluation and Lessons Learned for Accelerating Environmental Improvement in Established Neighborhoods

Co-PIs: Laura Taylor and Emily Stewart

MITACS Accelerate Research Internship Program (MITACS) September 2012-April 2013

The graduate student, along with her academic and industry supervisors, evaluated the Sustainable Neighborhood Retrofit Action Plan (SNAP) program. Three pilot SNAPs were studied to improve the design and delivery of the program as well as its transferability to other neighbourhoods within and beyond the Greater Toronto Area.

Sustainable Tourism Initiative in a Biological Corridor

PI: Felipe Montoya-Greenheck Collaborator: Wafaa El-Osta

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) July 2015-June 2017

The Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor (ASBC) is one of the many biological corridors in Costa Rica. Given the long-term and permanent presence of York University and the Tropical Science Centre in the Corridor, with research, education and community engagement activities, the ASBC presents a unique opportunity for evaluating the Corridor’s potential as a model for sustainable tourism and for achieving social-environmental well-being, What can be learned from and devised for the ASBC can serve to inform the efforts of over 30 other initiatives across the country, as well as other biological corridor initiatives around the world.

Taking Action II: Fostering Aboriginal Leadership in HIV Prevention Using Arts-Based Methods

PI: Sarah Flicker Co-PIs: Jessica Yee (Native Youth Sexual Health Network) June Larkin & Jean Paul Restoule (UofT), Claudia Mitchell (McGill), Randy Jackson (Canadian Aboriginal Aids Network), and Tracey Prentice (UofOttawa)

Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) April 2008-March 2010 (Extension/Renewal: April 2011-March 2014)

Taking Action II is a national project that aimed to explore how Aboriginal youth are becoming HIV leaders in their communities and to understand HIV in the context of communities, culture and colonization. The initial research aimed to build aboriginal youth capacity in the areas of HIV prevention knowledge and resource development to address HIV issues in their local communities. It also examined the efficacy of engaging aboriginal youth in HIV prevention leadership using arts-based approaches).

Taking Space, Making Space: Digital Maps by Queers of Colour in Toronto

PI: Jin Haritaworn

Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award (ERA) March 2015-March 2020

This research project is funded under the Ontario government’s Early Researcher Awards program and awarded the York University Research Leader Award by the Vice President Research. The study uses digital maps and focus groups to explore collective engagements with urban space in Toronto and alternative forms of taking space and making space that are currently emerging among queer and trans Black, Indigenous and people of colour (QTBIPOC) communities. The project has been conducted collaboratively with three FES grad students, including Syrus Marcus Ware, who is doing a PhD on disability arts, and two recent MES students Rio Rodriguez (Mapping QTBIPOC Toronto) and Alvis Choi (Fantasies of Time and Place: Queer of Colour Performance as Transformative Strategy), as well as Ghaida Moussa, who is doing a PhD on disability justice in Social and Political Thought.

The Effects of Sea Ice Loss on the Feeding Habits of Polar Bears

PI: Greg Thiemann

Kenneth Molson Foundation January – December 2016

Climate change is profoundly affecting Arctic food webs. However, future changes are difficult to predict because environmental conditions will be outside the range of past observations. Understanding cause-and-effect relationships between wildlife and their environment can improve ability to predict the impact of future environmental change. The project will examine the foraging ecology of polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea and test the hypothesis that declines in polar bear survival and abundance over the last decade have been driven by changes in the availability and nutritional quality of prey, specifically ringed and bearded seals. Quantitative estimates of the diet com position of individual polar bears from 2003 to 2015 will be generated including a decade-long period of rapid sea ice decline and concomitant reduction in polar bear survival and abundance.

The Plight of the Bumblebee: Using a Collaborative Approach to Conserve Native Pollinators

PI: Sheila Colla

Liber Ero Foundation December 2015-November 2016

Bee declines have recently emerged as a serious threat in Canada and globally. While the introduced European Honeybee has garnered much public attention, increasing evidence suggests some of Canada’s native bee species are also experiencing declines in abundance and distribution. Causes of native bee declines are largely speculative and untested but likely involve introduced pathogens, pesticide use, habitat loss, climate change and/or competition with invading species. The project builds on current collaborative efforts to initiate captive breeding, reintroduction and/or translocation programs for declining bumblebee species; work with landowners to create long-term habitat designed to support species at-risk; assess suitability and success of habitat restoration/creation; and investigate the effects of global change and gather natural history information using high quality, long term data on bumblebee abundance and distribution; and test the hypothesis that declining bumblebee species are more susceptible to pathogens and explore possible synergistic effects with other threats.

The Power of Stories: Storytelling and HIV/AIDS

Co-PIs: Sarah Flicker and Francisco Ibanez-Carrasco

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) June 2012-July 2013

This Café Scientifique project aimed to engage, inform and provoke dialogue about the importance of storytelling in HIV prevention, treatment, support and care. Drawing from a variety of community-based research projects and creative works, community members and researchers were invited into a dialogue about storytelling's role in transforming people’s health and environment.

Thinking about Animal Minds: A Phenomenographic Exploration of Animal Consciousness in Whales and Bats

PI: Leesa Fawcett

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2004-March 2008 Extended: 2009

The research developed and tested a narrative methodology for exploring human knowledge making about animal consciousness, and considered the implications for re-situating animals in environmental ethics, conservation and education. In particular, this involved an examination of Western ideas about human-animal relationships, gathering anecdotal knowledge about consciousness in whales and bats and exploring the ethical and political implications of this knowledge.

Total Resource Cost Test (TRC) on CDM Program Innovation and Delivery by LDCs in Ontario

Co-PIs: Mark Winfield and Tatiana Koveshnikova

Mearie Group LDC Tomorrow Fund July 2007-August 2013

The project systematically examined the impact of the Total Resource Cost (TRC) on the ability of Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) to deliver Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) programming. It aimed to provide a systemic and objective assessment of the impact of the test of LDC on the ability of LDCs to act as CDM program innovators and delivery agents. The report is available online and can be accessed at

Towards Sustainability in Headwaters Country

PI: Peter Mulvihill

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2005-March 2010

Many of Canada's ex-urban and rural areas face a daunting array of sustainability challenges. In developing effective sustainability strategies, these areas must rely heavily upon local resources and capacities and existing social capital. Part of the solution for these areas may lie in multi-stakeholder collaborative approaches built on sustainability principles and strategies. These include the engagement and mobilization of civil society networks; the cultivation of strategic partnerships among key stakeholders in civil society, the private sector and government; and long-term local programmes of research, education and advocacy that are supportive of sustainability. This action-based research project focused on Dufferin County, part of the Headwaters Country region north of Toronto, in which FES is part of a network of partners (Sustainability Dufferin Society) engaged in a range of sustainability initiatives.

Tracking Polar Bear Foraging Success in the Canadian Arctic

PI: Greg Thiemann

Kenneth Molson Foundation/York University Foundation December 2011-December 2012

The project monitored trends in foraging as well as nutritional conditions of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic.

Understanding Adolescent Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

PI: Sarah Flicker

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) March 2008-March 2009

The project aimed to train the Toronto Teen Survey (TTS) project’s Youth Advisory Committee in focus group facilitation and support them in conducting follow-up discussions on adolescent sexually transmitted diseases and their access to reproductive health services. Community-specific qualitative data were gathered to allow more in-depth understanding of the issues and trends and to provide youth with an opportunity to make key program and policy recommendations.

Unlikely Allies: Citizen Planning and Environmentalism on the Oak Ridges Moraine

PI: Gerda Wekerle Co-PIs: Liette Gilbert and Anders Sandberg

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2002-March 2005 Extended: 2007

The research examined the dynamics of citizen planning through an in-depth study and comparison of two communities – Richmond Hill and Caledon – that are immediately adjacent to the Oak Ridges Moraine. The study documented the issues, the roles of key actors, the strategic outcomes, and the local historical circumstances and political regimes under which citizen activism takes different forms. A book titled "The Oak Ridges Moraine Battles: Development, Sprawl, and Nature Conservation in the Toronto Region" (2013) provides a careful, multi-faceted history and policy analysis of planning issues and citizen activism on the Moraine’s future in the face of rapid urban expansion.

Urban Images, Public Space and the Growth of Private Interests in Toronto

PI: Ute Lehrer

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) September 2005-March 2008

This research project addressed the importance of image production for Toronto, Canada’s largest metropolitan area and the country’s primary ‘global city’. Image production in this study referred to images produced in cities and by cities as a competitive strategy to attract and retain local and global capital. In contrast to most of the literature, which is mainly concerned with the outcome of city-building processes, focus of the study was on the building process. While construction sites have always maintained a certain fascination within the imagination of the spectator, the building process had changed under the impact of globalization

Using Outcome Mapping to Consolidate Learning and Ensure Sustainability in an EcoHealth Project

PI: Martin Bunch Co-PIs: David Morley and Beth Franklin

International Development Research Centre (IDRC) April 2007-March 2009

The project adapted an outcome mapping approach to evaluate achievements and consolidate learning from integrated environment and health research in an urban slum community. It implemented the outcome mapping evaluation approach in the inner city slum of Anju Kudasai of Chennai, India, and disseminated lessons and findings from the evaluation study to institutional governmental and non-governmental actors of Chennai and the international scientific community.

Using “Phosphorus-Ferrous Eutrophication Model to Identify Cyanobacteria Bloom Formation Risk in Georgian Bay Embayments

Co-PIs: Lewis Molot, Sue Watson (Environment Canada’s National Water Research Institute ) and Todd Howell (Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Branch)

Georgian Bay Forever June 2012-2013

The project aimed to provide Georgian Bay Forever and government agencies with a sounder scientific understanding of risk factors of cyanobacteria blooms in the embayments of Eastern Giorgian Bay, especially those factors that influenced oxygen depletion of surface sediments.

WEB-GIS for Community Environmental Monitoring: Information Sharing and Interoperability

PI: Martin Bunch

Ontario Ministry of Environment (ENE) March 2008-August 2010

The project provided a collaborative mechanism among researchers at York University, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the civil society organization Citizens’ Environment Watch to monitor environmental conditions of local watersheds – a program that directly supports the Greater Toronto Remedial Action Plan. It aimed to facilitate adoption of the Juturna web-based community monitoring system by organizations having different spatial areas of interest.

York-MOE Partnership on Lake Simcoe

PI: Lewis Molot

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) July 2009-May 2014

The project aimed to develop and enhance understanding of the ecological issues pertaining to Lake Simcoe to protect, improve or restore the elements that contribute to the ecological health of its watershed, including water quality, hydrology, heritage, and hydrologic features and functions.

Youth Education and Mobilization in Marginalized Urban Communities for Equitable Watershed Governance

PI: Ellie Perkins

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) April 2011-March 2013

The project built on existing university-community partnerships to develop, improve and disseminate arts and science-based methods and materials for increasing environmental and watershed awareness and activism among youth in marginalized urban communities in Canada.

Youth, Disability, HIV Vulnerability and Prevention

PI: Sarah Flicker Co-PIs: Marcia Rioux, Denise Nepveux, Robb Travers (Laurier), June Larkin (UofT) Stephanie Nixon (UofT), Trevor Hart (Ryerson)

Canadian Foundation for Aids Research (CANFAR) July 2008-June 2009

The project was conceived given the lack of research on the HIV prevention needs of this vulnerable group despite confluence of risk factors and the existence of approximately 300,000 Canadian youth between the ages of 15 and 24 living with disabilities. The proposed study aims to address this gap in research by working with youth with disabilities to examine vulnerabilities to HIV and to identify methods for effectively delivering HIV prevention strategies to this population.

Other Projects

UnderCurrents Journal of Environmental Studies