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.
Supporting Domestic Energy Conservation in Ontario Through Direct Feedback
By: Cristina Guido (2017)Vol. 23 No. 1 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
Outside of financial incentives, there is a lack of tools for Ontario households to effectively conserve energy. The traditional and most commonly used policy tools, money and information, are not enough on their own to truly develop a culture of conservation, as set out by Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan. This paper argues that there are gaps in energy conservation policies and programs in Ontario that can be addressed through insights from the social sciences in order to enhance residential energy conservation programs and policies. A review of behaviour literature and decision models from various disciplines of academia will be explained to describe the ‘behavioural blind spot’ in current policies and programs, thus providing an explanation as to why Ontario is falling short of its long-term energy conservation targets. A behavioural intervention called direct feedback will be of particular focus in this paper, as studies have demonstrated that providing feedback can, on average, result in up to 15% in household energy savings. Direct feedback has the ability to change household energy behaviours, as it increases energy literacy, instantly reinforces positive behaviours (energy savings), makes energy use ‘visible’ and is presented in a cognitively stimulating and tailored format. Ontario is well positioned to support a direct feedback program through the recent introduction of the Green Button program and its transition to the smart grid. Behaviour-based energy programs are making traction internationally through the formation of behavioural working groups such as the United State’s Customer Information and Behavior Working Group that focuses on the research and development of behaviour-based energy efficiency programs and the United Kingdom’s Department of Climate Change (DECC) that has worked with researchers to contribute to the knowledge of behaviour change programs and iii energy conservation. It is recommended that Ontario take a similar approach and create a behavioural working group to contribute to behaviour-based energy research and programs. Supporting direct feedback in the residential sector and forming an energy behaviour working group would significantly assist the Province and Local Distribution Companies to meeting long-term conservation targets.
The Behavioural Profile of Pongo pygmaeus morio in Kutai National Park: Positional Behaviour in a Precarious Habitat
By: Sarah Iannicello (2017)Vol. 23 No. 2 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
This study examined the positional behaviour of female Pongo pygmaeus morio individuals in Kutai National Park, East Kalimantan, Indonesia during the 2015-2016 El Niño cycle. Several positional behaviour studies have been conducted on the Sumatran orangutan (P. abelii), yet only one had been conducted on P. p morio; this study was conducted by Cant in 1982, during a similarly strong El Niño cycle, and also only sampled female individuals (1987a). As such, this study provided an opportunity to verify the behavioural profile of P. p. morio as found by Cant during a similar environmental year, as well as verify the interspecific comparisons drawn from his sole study 35 years ago. This study verified some of the previous interspecific findings – mainly that P. p. morio employs an elevated use of ‘ipsilateral suspend’. However, some divergences from previous findings were found – mainly that ‘brachiation and forelimb swing’ and ‘sway’ occurred at higher frequencies than previously found in P. p. morio. Lower levels of ‘vertical climb’ and ‘descent’ were also found in P. p. morio here than found in the previous P. p. morio study.
The Carnivalesque and reintegration of the self: A look at how musicking and pan build inner and outer harmony
By: Mark Reece (2017)Vol. 23 No. 4 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
In this paper, I explore the idea of the carnivalesque and its relationship to the psychological concept of the reintegration of the self. As a starting point, I reviewed the literature on the carnivalesque, flow theory, participatory musicking and Turner’s theories of liminality and communitas. My research goals were to gain insight into how musicking, when rooted in the carnivalesque, leads to Bateson’s theory of the (re)integration of the self, and builds community. I took a multi-methods approach to qualitative research; it consisted of a literature review, participant observation, in person and written interviews, reflection journals, storytelling and auto-ethnographic performance. I looked at pan, musicking and the integration of the self from two perspectives: 1) What characteristics make the pan an ideal instrument to quickly achieve flow states and 2) The role of the steelpan community in carnival and its broader implications in helping individuals and communities experience the (re)integration of the self. I followed that up by exploring how musicking, pan and the carnivalesque translate in contexts outside of the panyard in the Canadian diaspora. This was done by discussing the work of Toronto-based musician Joy Lapps, who teaches pan from a community arts perspective. Finally, I took a personal look at how I put the spirit of musicking, pan, and the carnivalesque into praxis; by facilitating a participatory music collective (retro electro music collective) and performing an auto-ethnographic performance piece, Carnivallissima, Carnival is Me. I found that the carnivalesque and pan is a rich cultural expression that facilitates the reintegration of the self through connection to the community and to a deeper part of the self. Panyards are social spaces that openly invite others to be part of the musicking flow irrespective of race, class or gender. This paradigm is an expression of primary abundance, which stems from the belief of many indigenous cultures that the world is profoundly abundant. This contrasts sharply with modern western culture, which is mired in an economically driven ontology of scarcity. There is a great need to share the abundance ontology of the carnivalesque in contexts outside of its traditional borders. In Toronto, Joy Lapps is helping the Caribbean and the wider multicultural community of children, parents and families find a deeper understanding of self and the self in community through the playing of pan. I also found that musicking helped people in the panyard and in the retro electro music collective to get into the flow and experience the integration of the self by sharing food, developing self-worth, and cultivating more joy and clarity, which provided the space for a shift in perception about themselves and the world around them. The implication of this research is that musicking experiences can generate feelings of goodwill and generosity towards others. This raises the question of how we can continue to build momentum away from a scarcity ontology towards a way of being that values harmony and overflowing abundance.
Hunting and Wildlife Trade in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor, Costa Rica: Species, Motivations, and Governance
By: Brittany Maguire (2017)Vol. 23 No. 3 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
This study explores hunting and wildlife trade in Costa Rica, with a geographical focus on the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor (ASBC). I conducted semi-structured interviews with 38 individuals regarding: a) the nature of hunting and wildlife trade, b) enforcement of the new Wildlife Conservation Law, and c) opinions about hunting, hunting laws, and conservation. Participants included hunters, ex-hunters, and concerned residents in the ASBC, along with wildlife professionals from protected areas, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), wildlife centres, and environmental non-governmental organizations. Hunting has declined due to decreased dependence on hunting for subsistence, increased awareness, local protection, and law enforcement. Nevertheless, hunting continues in the region. The main motivation for hunting appears to be sport; however, participants in this study believed that there are various other overlapping motivations, including: for bushmeat, to capture wildlife for pets, for profit from selling bushmeat or captured animals, for subsistence, out of tradition, and in response to conflict with wildlife. The species hunted most often include: white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), paca (Agouti paca), collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu), agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), and tapir (Tapirus bairdii). Birds are captured for use as pets, principally the black-faced solitaire (Myadetes melanops). Recommendations include improved public communication from MINAE, increased enforcement of the Wildlife Conservation Law, and environmental education.
Unifying Sustainability and Affordability through Planning and Policy: Solar Energy Systems as an Element of Green Affordable Housing in Ontario
By: Aisha Lewis (2016)Vol. 22 No. 11 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)
The purpose of this major research paper is to examine how existing policies and programs in socio-political contexts comparable to Ontario’s make the inclusion of solar energy technology with affordable housing possible. The paper begins with the investigation of Ontario’s housing and energy systems. Following this assessment is the analysis of existing policy and programs in the United Kingdom and California that facilitate the integration of solar energy technology with affordable housing. The programs discussed in these regions are compared to past, present and future energy efficiency initiatives in Ontario in order to identify which aspects of them can be adopted to facilitate the creation of solar-equipped green affordable housing in the province. The concluding chapter discusses recommended planning and policy actions to be taken at the municipal and provincial level that will incite the creation of solar-equipped green affordable housing in Ontario. The paper highlights the environmental, social and economic benefits of developing domestic solar energy systems as a decarbonization strategy. Together, these benefits act as an endorsement of a potential reality in Ontario in which affordable housing and sustainable housing become synonymous concepts in the age of climate change mitigation.