Each year, in the form of dissertations, theses, major papers and major projects, graduate students in the Faculty of Environmental Studies produce some of the best and most original scholarship within the York University community. The purpose of the Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Series is to recognize exceptional MES major papers and projects and to make them available to a broader readership (all dissertations are available from the National Archives of Canada).
The topics of the papers published through the series vary as widely as the research interests of the Faculty's graduate students. The papers address many of the issues typically associated with the natural environment, such as conservation, pollution and climate change, but also focus on other issues affecting or affected by the environment, such as health, politics, economics, planning and design, ethics, culture and technology. All of the works strive to reveal the complexity underlying and linking social and environmental problems and solutions. In past years, topics have included regional-development planning in the Czech Republic, idealizations of the female body in writing and photography, citizenship and the democratic process, First Nations story telling and political and environmental discourse, the ethics of disrupting and restoring nature, heritage conservation and interpretation, the biotechnology industry in global environmental politics, and environmental decline and disaster as the basis of refugee status.
Since 2000, the series has been published electronically. Papers from the 1999 series or earlier are still available as separately published works through the Faculty's publications office. For copies, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accumulation, Poverty and Dispossession : Unequal Distribution of Mining Benefits and the Impact of Chirano Gold on Local Communities in Ghana
By: Stephen Aboagye (2015)Vol. 21 No. 3 ISSN 1702-3548(online)
Gold mining in Ghana has gained unprecedented global attention and attraction. At the moment, Ghana is Africa’s second leading producer of gold and ranks tenth in the world. The sector is the country’s leading foreign exchange earner, and continues to play a key role in the country’s socio-economic development. While the government of Ghana and other financial institutions defend the mining sector as a viable vehicle for facilitating economic growth in Ghana, concerns are raised about its negative environmental impacts and adverse problems affecting mining communities. This paper is grounded in a specific socio-political and cultural context through a case study of Chirano Gold Mines Limited (CGML) that explores the impact of both large scale and artisanal small-scale mining on the livelihoods of local communities, power relational inequality, and the mechanisms that foster and facilitate it. The study draws from the perspective of theory of International Political Economy (IPE) particularly the discourse of accumulation bydispossession to critically analyze the specific research questions. Generally in mineral economies, it is the national economy that benefits and welcomes increases in national revenues in the form of foreign direct investment and taxes, which are largely unequally distributed, with local communitiesshouldering the majority of adverse social and environmental risks. This enormous relational inequality and distribution of benefits in the mining area is an outcome of firms seeking to protect their interests at the expense of the local community. Findings from the study indicate that these interests are not necessarily in line with those of the impacted communities, nor concerned with protecting the environment. I argue that equitable distribution of benefits through certain established frameworks, such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs and objectives and compensation injected into the community, largely serve the needs and goals of a minority group in impacted communities, given internal struggles among residents to enhance their livelihoods and ongoing power relations and inequality in the community.
Renewable Energy Mobility: Advancing Municipal Energy Planning - A Case Study of the Solar Photovoltaic Electric Vehicle Charging Station Structure at York University, Toronto
By: Mustafa Nazari (2015)Vol.20 No. 15 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
As the urban population soars to 86 per cent in Ontario, municipalities will face increased pressure to plan for energy as it is intrinsically linked to the urban infrastructure. The widespread deployment of renewable energy is severely limited by the provincial governments in Canada. This project report starts by discussing the role of municipalities in energy planning in Ontario. The report will mainly focus on my experiences on designing and implementing a modular solar photovoltaic (PV) charging station structure for electric vehicles at Keele Campus, York University. Mainly, this report outlines the steps involved in developing a 6.84 kW solar PV structure with local industry partners. It covers the design criteria established to maintain key aspect and goals of the Renewable Energy Mobility (REM) project. The report ends with discussions and concluding remarks regarding the development, design, installation, policy and energy structure implications of the REM project.
Justice on the Rocks: (Re)Writing People and Place in Banff National Park
By: Adam Linnard (2015)Vol. 21 No. 5 ISSN 1702-3548(online)
Banff National Park is most commonly and powerfully representedas a place intended for wealthy tourists to experience leisure and for “all Canadians” to encounter “the essence of Canada,” representations that emphasize transience, leisure, safety and abstract notions of nature and nation. These institutional narratives of place validate management decisions that alienate residents and motivate them to assert special claims to belonging that distinguish between the local who belongs and those who are out of place. My first argument, developed through a survey of creative non-fiction and fiction literature of the Rocky Mountain Parks, is that literature has been a key sight forarticulating such claims and setting such distinctions, as evident in recurrent emphasis on permanence, work, risk and place-based knowledge. Supported by the work of scholars and activists in environmental justice and the related fields of critical race, gender, queer, disability and Indigenous studies, my second argument is that the dominant narratives of Rocky Mountain literature, while resisting institutional narratives and promoting Banff National Park as a co-creation of more-than-human assemblage, inscribe a highly privileged framework for belonging. Such a framework naturalizes white, masculine, heterosexual and able bodies through their engagement with rugged wilderness landscapes and other-than-human animals while negating, excluding or marginalizing those who do not conform. This paper goes on to present a series of Banff National Park stories, derived from walking interviews and textual research, that historicize, politicize and otherwise confound naturalized normativity without abandoning efforts to narrate more-than-human co-creation of Banff National Park spaces. These stories are told in two sections – one which takes place in the wilderness setting of Saskatchewan River Crossing and the other within the urban Banff town site – and attempt to disseminate experiences of making a home in theparticular social and environmental landscapes of Banff National Park that are complicated by intersections of race, gender, sexuality, nationalism,capitalism, religion, Indigeneity and class. This paper argues that those resisting institutional processes of exclusion in Banff National Park must interrogate their own privilege if they hope to promote anything approaching environmental justice in the Canadian Rockies, while simultaneously attempting to model new narratives by engaging with and privileging a variety of claims to place that destabilize my own, including stories of Indigenous displacement, imprisoned labour, gender queer performance and racialized migrant labour.
Cultivating Critical Learning: Critical Food Pedagogy in FoodShare's School Grown Program
By: Cassie Wever (2015)Vol.20 No. 1 7 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
There are numerous problems created by the industrial food system. These include redefining the relationship between eaters and their food as one between a consumer and a product, and the concomitant consumer deskilling and lack of knowledge around all aspects of food production; impacts to human and ecological health; struggles for farmers; a loss of culture and sense of place; numerous forms of injustice; and the gross misuse of waste as an industrial output, rather than an ecological input. Academics, activists, not for profit organizations, and laypeople often state that better education around food can help to solve these issues, at least in part. However, this raises questions around the purpose, praxis, and impacts of food education, and its role in change: Can food education programs teach a critical perspective on the food system? Or do they reinforce dominant paradigms around food while teaching only particular aspects of food literacy? This paper seeks todetermine what knowledge and skills students gain in FoodShare’s School Grown program, a secondary school market garden-based food and employment education program. It then asks whether the knowledge and skills gained foster acritical/emancipatory perspective or learning on the food system. It uses a case-study approach relying most heavily on interviews with the program coordinator, five graduated students, two teachers, two principals, a social worker, and a guidance counselor at the two schools involved in the program, as well as program documents, direct observation, and publicly available media. The paper begins by exploring issues in the industrial food system for which education is often purported to be a part of the solution. It then outlines the theoretical framework of critical food pedagogy and several related concepts: ecological literacy, transformative learning, and critical place-based pedagogy. These concepts are applied to the idea of food literacy, building off of the work of Goldstein (2014) and Sumner (2012) to create metrics for measuring three kinds of food literacy: empirical/analytic, historical/hermeneutic, and critical/emancipatory. The paper explores related models of school gardens, farm-to-school programs, and youth employment market gardens before describing FoodShare’s School Grown program model and the results of the research. The data indicates that the program greatly impacts personal and interpersonal knowledge and skills, employment skills and opportunities, overall learning skills, and builds empirical/analytic and historical/hermeneutic food literacy knowledge and skills. In terms of critical/emancipatory learning, the program fosters and supports the beginnings of critical/emancipatory perspectives on food and related systems. The program also builds skills and knowledge that are linked to prosocial and proenvironmental attitudes and behaviours, and are ultimately related to critical/emancipatory learning, such as a sense of personal and group competency. The paper concludes by offering recommendations for supporting critical food pedagogy in the School Grown program. The findings can inform all food education programs that wish to foster critical perspectives on the food system.
Food and Fiction: Literature and Creative Writing as Food Pedagogy
By: Genevieve Fullan (2015)Vol. 21 No. 6 ISSN 1702-3548(online)
Writing about food has proliferated in the last few yearsand in many ways has been responsible for propelling the food movement, which can be broadly defined as the movement against alienating corporate industrial agriculture, into the mainstream. With the food memoir, or food alienation drama, becoming almost as ubiquitous as the nature memoir, this paper gives due attention to the works of fiction that perhaps less obviously deal with food issues, but nonetheless offer valuable insight. Food is always already storied and stories about food occupy a unique place in that every reader has their own material experience with food. Each reader has their own varied experiences with food and as such they bring with them a wide range of assumptions and understandings based on the role that food occupies in their lives. Both reading and writing offer a moment of intervention into those assumptions. Stories, particularly as they take shape in the novel, have the unique ability to transform our understanding by engaging readers beyond informationtransmission, making literature an important component of food pedagogy. Creative writing engages the mind and engages language in a way that is different from more formal academic writing, but in a way that is just as valuable. This paper consists of ecocritical readings of two novels—Timothy Taylor’s Stanley Park and Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach—using food as the primary lens, as well as creative responses to those novels, in order to explore how both reading and writing offer different modes of research and inquiry. Together, ecocritical reading and creative writing offer complementary methods of food pedagogy that enhance and enrich the more common hands on approaches of current food pedagogy practices.