In this session, undergraduate honours students in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment will present their research on sustainability, environmental science, and related topics. Join us for this interdisciplinary series of original research presentations.
Understanding the clothing we wear as an extension of the body opens a discussion on the importance of garment materiality. In this sense, garments are a process where textiles transform into a functional piece. This project centers on Montreal to connect to the lived realities of people in the local industry. I interview a freelance designer and former garment worker, to highlight their experiences of individual and collective intelligence. Arguably, how we connect with the systems of garment production impacts how we relate and connect to clothing, attributing greater agency to garment workers and thus the potential value of the clothing product itself.
Christopher Alexander has identified the phenomenon of living structures in spaces that make individuals feel alive and connected with their physical surroundings. Many scholars argued that spaces were poorly designed during the modernist era because they were hostile and anxiety-inducing. From then on, the ongoing creation of oppressive spaces where individuals are emotionally disconnected has been scattered in and around our cities, making architecture feel like it was built for machines, not humans. Relying on the United Nations, the Brutland Commission introduced a highly influential definition of sustainability that highlights the longevity and durability of resources that should be considered in civic spaces' design and architectural choices. Building and designing spaces with living structures ensures timeless spaces that they are sustainable for current and future users. As timeless environments, buildings, and spaces adapt to ongoing physical, environmental, economic, and societal shifts that the world throws at it, users from all walks of life can create or reignite a positive connection to them. Let`s face it, when we take care of things, they last.
As agriculture intensifies, soils are being depleted and, more specifically, soil biodiversity is declining. Without a biodiverse soil, crop yield will suffer. Better policy can help solve this issue. With a focus on the Province of Quebec, I examine the following questions: are existing agricultural policies sufficient to protect soil biodiversity and how do these policies support the agricultural producers they impact? Through mapping soil health indicators, analysis of provincial polices through a text-based coding protocol and a series of interviews with local producers, my findings indicate that Quebec soil quality is at a degradation risk and current policies are not addressing the issue directly. Provincial policies are not sufficient to help farmers solve this issue. A better rapport between policymakers and farmers is needed to create better policy to ensure a sustainable agricultural future.
Urban sprawl has become a predominant form of city development in many parts of the world since the 1950s, as cities continue to adapt to significant influxes of inhabitants. Defining this phenomenon is not just a play on semantics but rather an integral concept throughout the process of city planning. There is currently no agreed-upon definition of urban sprawl, leading to inconsistencies regarding the analysis and application of mitigation efforts to combat the phenomenon. Through an extensive comparative analysis and interview process, the relevant dimensions included in definitions of urban sprawl are examined in this research to identify how the phenomenon is currently being conceptualized. A multilingual approach has been applied to identify linguistic differences between Spanish, English, French, and German in characterizing and defining urban sprawl. Understanding the fundamental differences in defining this phenomenon is key to addressing the growth of cities and developing quantitative approaches to measuring urban sprawl.
Ecotourism is a form of travel that centers around natural or green-appearing destinations and is often promoted as a more sustainable form of tourism. In Canada, Banff National Park attracts millions of ecotourists annually and acts as a cultural landmark for the country while playing a role in Canada’s reputation for having an abundance of natural spaces. However, there is a colonial history behind the formation of Banff as a protected area, as Indigenous communities had spiritual and cultural ties to the region before the Canadian government seized the space for tourism development. This research aims to explore the ways that Banff National Park is advertised as an ecotourism destination and to determine if the promoted values have implications for sustainable development and Canada’s colonial history. Visual research methods, including compositional interpretation and semiology, were used to analyse 48 Instagram posts and six videos posted by Travel Alberta, a government operated organization. Based on the analyses conducted, Banff National Park was depicted to offer an alternative and safer form of nature that holds therapeutic properties and is more accessible to ecotourists. The therapeutic aspects found in these spaces acts as an incentive to preserve the natural landscape. This preservationist ideology was promoted as a sustainable way of taking care of the land and keeping nature’s benefits intact. However, this common theme arising in sustainable development conflicts with Canada’s colonial history and how various Indigenous groups view the land.