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Linking ecological footprint and environmental assessment

Linking ecological footprint and environmental assessment

Approaching environmental studies from a broad, interdisciplinary background, Professor Peter Mulvihill engages with a range of interests through his research and teaching. His previous research mainly focused on environmental impact assessment practice and cumulative impacts of mega-development in Canada’s North. Currently, his research interests include emerging practices in environmental management, exploring the potential of hybrid ecological footprint and environmental impact assessment applications, disaster and environmental management; environmentalism and sustainability discourse.

As part of the ecological footprint initiative, his advanced EIA class carried out an experiential exercise in the Winter 2019 semester, when groups of students examined the campus’ existing environmental footprint as it relates to waste, energy, food, transportation, water and land use. The students looked at best practices from other institutions and for ways to minimize York’s environmental footprint. Reports were presented to the President’s Sustainability Council and recommendations were offered for improvements in the university policies and procedures.

“The students made interesting discoveries in the experiential education experience,” says Professor Mulvihill. “They conducted interviews with campus subject matter experts and stakeholders and drilled down into their particular footprint issues,” he adds.

In a recent book titled Environmental Management: Critical Thinking and Emerging Practices (2017), he and co-author Harris Ali highlighted the worsening ecological crisis and critiqued conventional approaches to environmental management. They advocated for greater application of alternative and emerging approaches that have the potential to transform current environmental management practice.

In a recent article titled “The Eclipse of Environmental Discourse,” published in Human Geography (2018), Professor Mulvihill and co-author Victor Bruzzone make the case for a revival of ecological realism to counter the tendency for sustainability discourse to de-emphasize ecological considerations. Bruzzone and Mulvihill are currently working on an article that examines inaction on environmental problems and climate change.