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Workshops & seminars, Conferences & lectures

Current topics in sustainability science

Thursday, March 16, 2023
10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public (offered in person only)


Loyola Sustainability Research Centre & Loyola College for Diversity & Sustainability


Rebecca Tittler



In this session, graduate students in the Advanced Seminar in Environmental Science (HENV 680) will present succinct arguments related to sustainability and environmental science. Join us for 3-minute thesis style presentations on wide variety of cutting-edge topics. This interdisciplinary course includes students from the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment’s MSc, PhD, and Master of Environment in Environmental Assessment programs, as well as graduate students from Art History and Journalism.

Niloofar Tavakoly Nabavy:A shift from penalties to incentives: The case of equity focused corporate health impact assessment

Equity focused health impact assessment (EFHIA) is a framework for collecting data regarding health equity to mitigate the impact of projects on health inequities. At a corporate level, it aims to address health impacts caused by corporate activities. Equity has become the core of health impact assessment to ensure just outcomes for everyone. Nowadays regulations are ensuring the effectiveness of this process by penalizing companies for inadequate corporate EFHIA processes. However, a change in perception is needed, and regulations must be aimed at incentivizing companies to assess health impacts to ensure equity, as it can provide long-term benefits for them.

David Toro: Reforestation done right: A call for reforestation methodologies that truly support biodiversity and communities

Globally, there is immense interest and enthusiasm for reforestation and its potential benefits. Unfortunately, reforestation that works in the best interest of biodiversity and local communities is not a given. Practices such as monoculture plantations of trees for future timber exploitation are widespread; these practices, however, provide few benefits to the complex webs of life a forest can support or to local communities that depend on forests. In the face of compounding environmental crises, reforestation needs to focus on restoring native forests to truly support biodiversity, resulting in more desirable ecological and social outcomes.

Pramila Choudhary: Desi Oon: Keeping us warm in the cold times

The art of hand crafting has a rich history that spans centuries and has been influenced by cultural adaptations to different environments. These crafts have been woven into the fabric of communities and their economies, with traditional practices being inherently sustainable, eco-friendly, and green, even without being labeled as such. However, the advent of mechanized manufacturing, synthetic materials, global markets, and environmental degradation has led to a departure from the traditional ethos of handcraft ecosystems. Over time, the knowledge and skills that once formed the backbone of these crafts have become disconnected from their ecological roots and the social tapestry that sustained them. This is particularly evident in India's wool industry, where sheep wool, despite being abundant, is struggling to find a place in both the marketplace and the pastoral craft cultures that once relied on it.

Michelle Faerstein: Bee conservation: Why beekeeping on its own is not the solution

There are over 20,000 bee species, many of which are endangered. It is a popular notion that beekeeping promotes overall bee conservation, however, it mainly helps honey bees, the only species humans keep in hives. Consequently, beekeeping does not help all bees - in fact, increasing honey bee populations in areas they are not native to can harm native bee species as they can outcompete native bees for resources and spread diseases. Native bees are essential for pollination and healthy ecosystems. To help them, it is important to maximize native wildflower abundance, stop using pesticides, and create beekeeping limits.

Faye Xiaoxiao Sun: Making science education accessible with artificial intelligence

Open-source digital technologies have become a focal point in discussions concerning the future of education and communication in academia. These discussions reveal accessibility gaps in traditional pedagogical and evaluation methods that could potentially be bridged by integrating digital technologies, making science more accessible to students and the general public. Artificial intelligence (AI) systems like chatGPT can be customized to consumer needs, which can be optimized for science communication in different contexts and for different audiences. A transdisciplinary approach can also accommodate neurodiverse learning styles, and address equitable access to education for students with disabilities.

Alana-Dawn Phillips: Proper inclusion of Indigenous People and Indigenous Knowledge in research literature

In environmental and climate change research today, many topics are associated with Indigenous peoples and their knowledges. Scholarly and research literature often include information derived from the Indigenous people involved in the work. There are currently Indigenous scholars, researchers and writers who address the issue of appropriate referencing Indigenous people, cultures, values, knowledges, customs, and all other aspects of their ways of being. This presentation will provide valuable guiding principles offered by these Indigenous authors. This shared knowledge will provide the audience with the information necessary to respectfully plan their professional collaboration with Indigenous people and communities.

Alessia Poltronetti: Forestry in British Columbia: Glyphosate impacts on sustainability, biodiversity and health and traditional practices of Indigenous communities

Glyphosate is an herbicide sprayed on Indigenous lands where First Nations use native plant species for food security and medicinal purposes. Firstly, spraying Glyphosate goes against biodiversity goals. It contaminates freshwater systems and soil health. Residue is found in plant tissue and affects the health of fish and wildlife. Secondly, this practice affects traditional ways of life, goes against their rights and wishes. This can affect the communities’ health since their traditional practices are directly tied to the land. Hence, there is a lack of commitment and transparency by the Government of British Columbia when it comes to Indigenous consultations.

Claire Cazorla: Shore-fast Sea Ice Breakup in Coastal Canada: Implications for Sustainable Marine Management

Shore-fast sea ice constitutes 12% of global sea-ice cover and represents endangered habitat for Canadian Arctic community ecosystems. Shore-fast ice attaches to Arctic coastlines during winter extending them for fishing, hunting, and transportation purposes. The drivers of climate change-related shore-fast sea ice breakup are significantly under-researched and require stringent timely environmental assessment of its impacts. Substantial spatial analysis of shore-fast ice breakup in northern Canada should be incorporated to ensure sustainable marine management for vulnerable communities. Whereby, premature shore-fast ice breakup demonstrates the urgent need for sustainable solutions for communities that rely on the ice for transportation and subsistence activities.

Stéfanie Larose: Biodiversity offsets are not the solution to Canadian conservation

The use of biodiversity offsets to address residual adverse effects has been recognized internationally for the past 15 years. Canada has recently drafted a new policy to guide their implementation within the federal jurisdiction. The government supports this type of mitigation because it theoretically offers conservation opportunities while promoting Canada's extractive resource-based economy. However, Canada must refrain from using biodiversity offsets to justify its continued approval of destructive projects. The government is incapable of guaranteeing "No Net Loss" as quantifying biodiversity and ensuring equivalence is complex. It also lacks the capacity to verify compliance and enforce the offsetting programs.

Harvin Bhathal: Creating climate justice in news coverage of climate refugees

Western news media often portrays climate refugees as security threats and victims. These stereotypes further the us versus them dichotomy that exists for Western publics and in policymaking. According to framing theory, how something is presented to the audience influences the choices people make about how to process that information. As such, journalists should adapt a climate justice frame in news coverage of climate refugees. Doing so would link climate-induced migration with human rights protection and the need to take action to protect their livelihoods and cultures. This frame would positively change the public perception of climate migration.

Mikaela Gerwing: Role of primate reintroduction in restoring degraded ecosystems

The current global biodiversity crisis is present in plant and animal species, the impacts deeply interlinked between and throughout ecosystems. Nonhuman primates play important roles in their native ecosystems and are often considered to be critical seed dispersers for vegetation regeneration. In degraded ecosystems where primates have been extirpated, reintroduction can offer a second chance at life for formerly captive individuals and can have further ranging benefits for population numbers and the ecosystem of the release site. Primate reintroduction should be increasingly considered as a tactic in the restoration of degraded ecosystems in which primates are or were formerly present.

Yassmine Boctor-Moghaddam: Indigenous sustainable self-determination in Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework

Sustainable development in the Arctic should be practiced in a polycentric and decolonial way, that empowers Indigenous and local communities to self-determine their present and future amid the ever-looming presence of climate change and globalisation. The lack of action to develop a strategic policy plan since the release of the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework in 2019 speaks to a persistent Canadian challenge in setting practical priorities for policy implementation. This presents an opportunity to base a policy framework in the concept of decolonization, where Indigenous consent and recognition of Indigenous priorities and expertise are the foundation for sustainable communities.

Manon Raby: Decolonizing urban governance: Advancing transport equity for sustainable development

Transport equity emphasizes the need for a fair distribution of transportation services, particularly for marginalized groups. It ensures that people, regardless of their race, income, or ability, have access to safe, reliable, and affordable transportation systems. Equity issues are inherent to land use and transport planning and therefore call for the need to address systemic inequalities and discriminatory policies that currently hinder sustainable development in the transport sector. Thus, it can be argued that achieving more equitable transportation systems requires inclusive and participatory planning processes and investments that center the needs and perspectives of marginalized communities.

Jasmine Sihra: Resisting/relating to oil, gas, and other substances in the work of Tsēmā Igharas

Despite the ongoing calls to halt the operations of extractive industries across so-called Canada, corporations continue to develop land across the country for oil, gas, and other mined substances. What fuels these corporations are capitalist, colonial, and extractive ideologies that treat these substances as a means to an end— that is, of profit. As a result, these substances are treated as symbols of those ideologies. However, how do we consider these substances beyond profit and extraction? Through the artwork of Tsēma Igharas (Tahltan Nation), this presentation argues that these substances should be tended to as kin in order to decolonize sustainability discourses.

Joeli A. Plakholm: Ramifications of contamination: The lethal by-product of Giant Mine, Northwest Territories

From 1948 to 2004, Giant Mine’s arsenopyrite ore was processed for gold at the expense of releasing 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide dust into the environment. Presently, underground chambers and stopes store the arsenic trioxide but due to climate change and subsequent permafrost thawing, are vulnerable to arsenic leakage. The absence of sound mitigation measures for contamination necessitates more stringent environmental protection regulations to be implemented. Extensive and expansive closure plans must be integrated into environmental management to promote more sustainable extraction practices. Giant Mine exemplifies the ramifications of neglecting long-term considerations and the robust and economically exhaustive remediation techniques now required to compensate.

Rachel Weissfelner: Grandfather clauses: A threat to diodiversity protections

Grandfather clauses are legal provisions that exempt existing activities from new regulations. In the context of biodiversity protection, grandfather clauses can hinder conservation efforts by allowing destructive practices to continue even after new laws are enacted. This can result in the loss of valuable habitats and species, undermining efforts to preserve biodiversity.

Valérie Bolduc: The price is right: Roadkill edition

Wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) have an incredible impact on the lives and populations of wildlife. They also have a much less well-known financial cost to society. Healthcare, human lives, vehicle repairs, and carcass removals are among the many costs associated with road mortality. Many different institutions bear the costs of WVCs. Effective measures to prevent WVCs, such as building fencing and wildlife crossing structures, are often deemed too expensive to be implemented by transport authorities. When the costs associated with WVCs are combined, they are comparable to building road mitigation measures, without the impact on human and wildlife lives.

Ryan Collins: Gotham seeps: Land reclamation, climate mitigation, and the globalization of garbage

Garbage disposal in major urban centers presents obstacles for global sustainability. In New York City, urban waste disposal sites have been increasingly replaced by contracts that send New York's trash long distances into the rural hinterland and beyond. This change allows for the recapitulation of New York's now-disused urban landfills into reclaimed land. As is the case at New York’s Freshkills Park, the recapitulation of urban landfills into parks is often billed by municipal offices as a form of climate mitigation. This project aims to discuss the relationship between climate change, transportation, waste, and brownfield remediation in New York.


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