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13th Annual Concordia-Siena Conference on Globalization

Finding Solutions: Inequality Gaps, Biodiversity, Sustainability, & Democracies




November 10th & 11th, 2016

Siena College, NY

This year's conference in New York

As part of our long-standing interaction with Siena College, this year, LCDS faculty Raymond Paquin and Rebecca Tittler took students to Siena College in upstate New York for our annual conference on globalization. Our students shared their work and were treated to student presentations from the International Studies Minor at Siena. In addition, Siena College also organized an eye-opening discussion on the important documentary film Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement, as well as a fascinating trip to the Radix Ecological Sustainability Centre and to the Underground Railroad History Project.

More about the conference...

Concordia Student Presentations

With more than half of the world’s population currently residing in urban areas, local governments may be facing pressures to integrate more greenery into their masterplans and thus enhance the residential quality of life. Street tree planting initiatives, in particular, have become quite popular in municipalities, as trees beautify neighborhoods, improve residential quality of life, reduce heat island effects and increase property values. This is the case for Verdun’s masterplan, where the city recognizes the benefits of trees and is currently considering tree planting initiatives, amongst many tools, to improve quality of life. Unfortunately, a growing body of literature has shown lower-income residents have less access to environmental amenities than middle-upper class residents. Furthermore, many studies have demonstrated that street trees increase property values, as people are generally willing to pay more to live near street trees. Lower-income residents may not be able to afford these increases in rent/property values and may be displaced as a result. Thus, there is a question of whether greening policies, such as street tree planting initiatives, foster inequitable access to environmental amenities. Trees are inherently good for all residents but all individuals should have democratic access. This paper examines the potential effects of planned increases in street tree cover in Verdun, whether and at what point lower-income residents are likely to be displaced, and whether there is a likely to be general interest in fighting this gentrification effect. 

The drug war in Colombia has spanned five-decades. It has caused over 260 000 deaths, the disappearance of 45 000, and the displacement of roughly 6.8 million individuals. With its spillover into neighbouring countries, the Colombian drug war has created tensions worldwide, consequently influencing trade amongst neighbouring states, as well as foreign state intervention. For these reasons, negotiations to end the war on drugs has been imminent in order for Colombia to once more regain its status on a global front.

Established in 1964, The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is a guerilla grouped founded upon Marxist-Leninist ideologies. Financing themselves through drug trafficking and kidnapping, their goal was to battle a corrupt democracy. However, half a century later, leaders of FARC have decided to ceasefire and renegotiate their terms of peace alongside the Colombian government. The possibility of establishing peace to a country that has been victimized by treacherous war crimes was put to referendum October 2nd 2016. The outcome of the referendum was not in favour of the peace accords, and the future of Colombia is still unknown.

These peace accords do not just dictate Colombia’s political future, they decide the next step in the rehabilitation of Colombia’s economy, and as such, the lives of millions of citizens. The agricultural portion of Colombia’s economy makes up roughly 6.11% of the country’s GDP. Its GDP has dropped considerably in the past half century, however in global comparison, Colombia’s remains quite strong; it makes up one fifth of the job market with only 5% cultivated land[1]. As such, the Colombian government must determine whether peace and sustainable agriculture can improve the future of Colombia, and if peace and sustainability is possible following the rejection of the peace agreements.


[1] Colombia - Agriculture. (2011, March 01). Retrieved October 28, 2016, from

Climate change is not gender-neutral. There are social and cultural difference between men and women, both of whom are affected differently by the negative impacts of climate change. However, the poor unfortunately are more at risk from climate change as they have less ability to adapt to severe events like droughts or floods, which directly impact their livelihoods and ability to produce food. Women, who account for the majority of the World’s poor, are disproportionately impacted. Female farmers account for 45 to 80 percent of all food production in developing countries. This means that any changes in climate will affect them and their families the most. Furthermore, women suffer from discrimination, limiting their rights and their access to land, to services, to education, and decent employment opportunities. Such discrimination has important implications during the aftermath of weather-related emergencies because they are far less likely to be able to access the information and support that could help them to better manage the impact of climate change. We need to incorporate women’s perspectives more into all processes, projects, and policy-making decisions when it comes to improving their living situations and their well-being. We need to apply their knowledge and skills to future solutions and ensure they directly benefit from them.

Over 1 billion people across the world suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition, and that number is poised to grow. By the year 2050, a 70-100% increase in food productivity will be required to feed an estimated 9 billion people. Previous agricultural technologies have helped feed growing populations, though at steep costs to the environment – the Green Revolution of the early 20th century brought with it larger monoculture plantations, industrialized mechanisms of production and distribution, and the widespread use of DDT and other carcinogenic pesticides. Entering the 21st century, it is clear that a more sustainable mechanism of food production and waste management will be required to support our fast-growing human population. According to the World Bank, organic farming practices are one solution, though will require positive changes in management practices, understanding growth conditions, and selection for certain types of produce to match present demand. Under this umbrella, aquaculture is both the most sustainable source of animal-based protein and one of the most important to human communities across the planet; 43% of the world’s fish consumption is linked to farmed seafood and over 1 billion people rely on seafood as their sole source of protein. As consumer demand on wild stocks has already exceeded carrying capacity, aquaculture has been filling this gap. The Blue Revolution has seen the selective breeding of fish stocks, hormone-controlled reproduction, and the use of antibiotics push previous ecologically restricted populations past their limitations. As with its agricultural counterpart, this has come at a great cost to the environment through the destruction of natural habitat, displacement of native fish, and contamination of waters by organic waste. Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) seeks to solve these issues by combining multiple, harvested, species in food chains so as to maximize productivity while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. This process is far from new – Chinese farmers have long harvested carp and tilapia from run-off ditches next to pig farms, while sewage-fed ponds in India (bheries) currently produce 7000 tonnes of fish annually. Current IMTA projects in the Northern Hemisphere include a pilot project rearing blue mussels, kelp, and Atlantic salmon in New Brunswick, Canada, as well as the Pacific SEA-lab project in British Columbia that combines native sable fish, scallops, oysters, cockles, sea cucumbers, and kelp in a system that works closely with local universities, business partners, and media groups.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a business approach which contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders. Within the western world, CSR has traditionally been seen as a strategic variable for businesses – as a source of gaining competitive advantage. CSR’s main characteristics have been that it is mostly voluntary, and confined largely to the private sphere of action. In the case of India, CSR has become a driver for national development.

In April 2014, the government of India enacted the Companies Act, which requires firms that are above a certain threshold in terms of size and financial capital, to commit 2% of the net tax revenues to CSR initiatives; these initiatives are determined by the government and fall anywhere between health, rural development, female education, and more. In this case, the government has taken an active role as the entrepreneur in utilizing CSR as the tool to develop the country towards greater integration within the transnational business community.

We aim to compare how CSR is viewed within India and the Western world. Looking at how this very important key message is communicated and how the Companies Act has been perceived by all the stakeholders involved. Highlight what it means when CSR is no longer led by the corporations, but now being led through government input.

Everyone needs shelter. The amount of energy and waste that goes into building the modern North American home can be quite staggering. How can we reduce the impact our homes have on the planet? Earthships are a building technique created to address these issues. Through creative use of recycled and natural materials, Earthship design aims to be as self-sufficient and sustainable as possible. This talk will explore the principles and techniques applied in these structures, as well as an account of what it’s like to build one as a community organization. The Young Roots Earthship-inspired cold frame served as an educational and empowering exercise within the community, and will serve as an account of the process to build outside the box.

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