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 email@example.com.
Towards a Circular Urban Metabolism with Sewer Wastewater Heat Recovery Systems (SWWHRS)
By: Devon Calder (2016)Vol. 22 No. 5 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
In this paper I describe how cities can reduce their dependence on fossil fuels for space and water heating by utilizing sewer wastewater heat as a low carbon energy source. I introduce the first stage of a planning decision support system for implementing sewer wastewater heat recovery systems. The model decision support system is intended for community energy planners and other relevant stakeholders to identify locations for matching sewer wastewater heat with appropriate thermal energy demand. This project demonstrates how ideal locations of sewer wastewater heat supply from municipal sewers can be matched with space/water heating demand using spatial analysis techniques and geographic information systems. This first proposed stage of a decision support system utilizes GIS to perform a site suitability analysis that can be used as the basis for further feasibility assessments in the planning of a sewer wastewater heat recovery system. Guelph, Ontario, Canada is used as a case study area. I go on to demonstrate the potential for reducing fossil fuel use in Guelph by identifying the volume of heat that can be recovered from each sewer segment and selecting several ideal locations that warrant further investigation into the feasibility of implementing a sewer wastewater heat recovery system. This proposed planning tool has potential for identifying significant carbon emission reduction opportunities in Ontario due to the large volume of natural gas consumed for space and water heating in the province`s urban residential and commercial zones and the prevalence of extensive sewer networks in all major urban areas. The decision support tool presented in this paper should however be utilized by a community energy planner in conjunction with other approaches for assessing how to reduce natural gas use for heating, as wastewater heat recovery is but one possible solution. Discussion of other approaches is beyond the scope of this research paper.
Anarchism and Bourdieu’s Critique of Social Distinction
By: Andrew Winchur (2016)Vol. 22 No. 17 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
This paper attempts to put Pierre Bourdieu’s theories of social distinction into dialogue with the revolutionary theory of anarchism. After outlining Bourdieu’s theoretical and analytical background, I will discuss the major arguments and terminology of his groundbreaking 1979 work, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Special emphasis will be placed on the text’s analysis of political inequality—particularly the ways in which revolutionary, leftist stances towards social domination can still embody a hierarchical logic of distinction. Bourdieu’s focus on the subconscious, relational nature of social domination can enrich anarchists’ own understandings of existing hierarchies, and illuminate the ways in which anarchist theory can produce forms of political distinction directly at odds with anarchism’s revolutionary mission. If anarchist theory is always in danger of betraying its goal of full political and social equality for all, anarchistic social cooperation provides an ideal political context in which historically dominated individuals can transcend the logic of distinction. In a case study of New York’s Direct Action Network (1999-2002), I will consider the ways in which a prefigurative, anarchist approach to political action both challenges, and is challenged, by Bourdieu’s logic of distinction.
Broadening the ‘World Crops’ Discourse: Exploring Ecological and Cultural Gaps in ‘World Crops’ Research for the Greater Toronto Area
By: Amy Cheng (2016)Vol. 22 No. 6 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
The goal of this paper is to broaden the current ‘world crops’ discourse by exploring two gaps within existing research. In this context, world crops refer to crops that have not historically been a major part of Ontario’s mainstream vegetable production, thus they are crops that are relatively new to local farms. Also, these crops generally hold strong regional and cultural significance for recent newcomers to Canada, specifically in relation to their traditional diets. The paper begins by reviewing the existing body of world crops research pertaining to production, supply-chain, and marketing data for Ontario, especially for the Greater Toronto Area. From this, it was observed that one of the major gaps was around organic world crops production. Thus, this was one of the gaps addressed in this paper through primary and secondary research. The primary research involved interviews with major actors in the Toronto food movement as well as with organic researchers. Significant insights were gained into the productive potential for organic eggplant and okra production, while the complex challenges that face small-scale organic farmers, including new farmers and farmers of colour (especially newcomer and immigrant farmers) were explored. In addition to the knowledge gap around organic world crops production, an in-depth look into the factors that influence different immigrant communities’ interest in local and organic world crops, and their engagement with the local food movement, were also deemed insufficient. Thus, a study of the Chinese community in Toronto was conducted to explore political, economical, social and cultural factors that may affect their interest in local and organic world crops, as well as engagement with the local food movement. This exploration began by looking at the characteristics of the alternative food movement in Hong Kong and China in order to identify possible linkages to the Chinese diaspora’s relation to food and farming here in Canada. This exploration concluded with interviews with food movement actors in Toronto and Vancouver who shared the opportunities and barriers they have faced in attempting to engage Chinese-Canadian communities in local food movement activities. Finally, the empirical findings were analyzed through the following theoretical frameworks: elements of Marx’s theories on capitalism and their relation to food regime theory; “agrarian question” related discussions around the role of small-scale, non-capitalist, and family farms within capitalism’s development; and class-based and anti-racism analyses from a food justice perspective. On an empirical level, each section of the paper concludes with suggestions for future research and action. On a theoretical level, this paper concludes that determining the feasibility of expanded local world crops production requires the examination of factors both within and outside of the supply chain. Factors outside of the supply chain that warrant critical attention are issues related to food and social justice, such as the political, economical, social, and cultural factors that determine the availability of culturally appropriate foods and an individual or a community’s ability to access these foods. In closing, the paper concludes that access to more culturally appropriate foods can only come about with access to a more culturally appropriate food movement.
Fantasies of Time and Space: Queer of Colour Performance as Transformative Strategy
By: Hoi Ying Choi (2016)Vol. 22 No. 7 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
This portfolio consists of three essays and four performances. It investigates queer of colour performances that deal with fantasies of time and place as a survival tool and transformative strategy that opens up mental spaces for prefiguring alternatives. I situate this work within my own depression and the urgency for marginalized communities to find temporary respite from oppression, and spaces in between from which to prefigure alternative ways of being, and of building worlds. To this end, I propose that fantasy can work as a methodology of survival and liberation. I approach these questions from a range of angles, which put my own perspective as an artist-scholar in conversation with other queer and trans Black, Indigenous and people of colour (QTBIPOC) artists and communities. This includes reflections on my artistic practice and experience as a queer, gender non-conforming person of colour, alongside an analysis of two qualitative, semi-structured interviews with artists based in Canada, Tom Cho and Camille Turner, observations on other performances that have been done within the QTBIPOC community in Toronto. Drawing on writings on queer temporality, and insights by performance theorist Diana Taylor and queer of colour theorist José Esteban Muñoz, this portfolio argues that queer of colour performance can be used as an embodied repertoire and a transformational tool that challenges dominant archives of Canadian history, whitewashed queer activism, and heteronormative popular culture. In its place, I offer up an understanding of queer of colour bodies as archives and sites for prefiguring futures where we can all survive and thrive.
Transit Equity Planning in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
By: Michael Collens (2016)Vol. 22 No. 8 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
This portfolio consists of four sections written as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Masters in Environmental Studies (MES) degree. Section 1 consists of my research and written contributions towards a report co-written with Sean Hertel and Roger Keil entitled Switching Tracks: Towards Transit Equity in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (Hertel et al, 2015). My contribution comprises Parts 3-7, where a definition of transit equity is advanced, how inequity impacts different publics is highlighted, and some solutions used to address transit inequities are explored. The contents of Section 1 sets the stage for each subsequent section. Section 2 is a long abstract and presentation prepared for an academic conference, co-written and presented with Sean Hertel, intended to situate and connect the work conducted in Section 1 within an academic milieu. The presentation in Section 2 closes with questions posed for further research on how to identify symptoms of transit equity and how to situate transit equity objectives within the planning profession. A proposed methodology towards future research was proposed as a launching point for the research project contribution in Section 3. Finally, Section 2 is intended to help continue the dialogue on transit equity sparked by the Greater Toronto Suburban Working Group (GTSWG), co-chaired by Roger Keil and Sean Hertel, presented by The City Institute of York University (CITY) and hosted by Metrolinx, bringing together academics, planners, community activists, representatives from the development industry and non-profit service sector. Section 3 consists of a research project conducted as a contribution towards a report co-written with Sean Hertel and Roger Keil entitled Next Stop: Equity: Routes to Fairer Transit Access in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (Hertel et al, 2016). I used a case study approach anchored by the literature review conducted in Section 1 to explore five specific neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) to illustrate how transit inequity manifests in various ways at the neighbourhood scale. Section 4 of the portfolio is an article co-written with Sean Hertel to engage with the planning profession, published in the Ontario Planning Journal. Section 4 presents a synopsis of the work on transit equity in Section 1, Section 2, and Section 3. The article establishes the imperative for planners to be active participants in achieving transit equity. The article advances a working definition of transit equity as it applies to transit planning, why equity in transit planning is important for achieving provincial planning objectives, and how transit equity objectives are situated within the planning regime in Ontario.