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  • School of the Environment (University of Toronto) Research Day

School of the Environment (University of Toronto) Research Day

  • 16 Apr 2014
  • 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM
  • FACULTY CLUB, 2nd floor, 41 Willcocks St. (east of Spadina Ave., north of College St.)
Join us as we celebrate Earth Day and hear about some of the research conducted by faculty and graduate students of the School of the Environment. The program will include four research talks, followed by a presentation of graduate students' awards and refreshments.

Click here to learn more.
Everyone is welcome at any time throughout the event. Registration is not required but recommended for planning purposes only.

DIRECTIONS VIA TTC AND PARKING:
Via TTC: Willcocks St. is three streetcar stops south of Spadina subway station.
Parking: 1 Spadina Crescent, or 213 Huron St. (underground, 1 block east), north of College St. (Call 416-978-PARK or visit http://www.parking.utoronto.ca/)

For enquiries, please contact Mona El-Haddad, 416-978-6526.

PROGRAM SCHEDULE
Schedule is subject to change. Please visit this page for updates.
1:00 PM

KIMBERLY STRONG, Professor and Inaugural Director, School of the Environment
Opening Remarks

1:10 PM
RACHEL YORK-BRIDGERS, Doctoral candidate, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning (OISE), and School of the Environment
Reimagining our Connection to the Natural World: Transformative Environmental Education through the Arts (abstract and bio)

1:40 PM
BRIDGET BERGQUIST, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences; Course Instructor, School of the Environment
Analysis of Mercury Isotopes in Ecosystems in South America: Gold Mining vs. Land Use Change (abstract; bio forthcoming)

2:10 PM
INGRID LEMAN STEFANOVIC, Professor, Department of Philosophy; Full member of graduate faculty, School of the Environment
Challenges of Interdisciplinarity: The Case of Environmental Programs (abstract and bio)

2:40 PM
CRISTIAN CHES, Doctoral candidate, Department of Geography and School of the Environment
The Role of Cities in Canadian Climate Change Policy (abstract and bio)

3:10 PM
PRESENTATION OF GRADUATE STUDENTS’ AWARDS

3:30 PM
REFRESHMENTS

*************
ABSTRACTS AND BIOGRAPHIES
1:10
RACHEL YORK-BRIDGERS, Doctoral candidate, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning (OISE), and School of the Environment
Reimagining our Connection to the Natural World: Transformative Environmental Education through the Arts
Environmental educators are concerned with how to make learning relevant in an environment where students are increasingly disconnected from nature and places where they live, and more connected with media and technology. As our faith in technologies grows, our contact with nature diminishes. Up until about the second grade, children still feel that they are a part of nature; as they enter middle childhood, students report feeling increasingly separated from the natural world. Given that the arts have been shown to provide opportunities for re-imagining space, place and planetary consciousness (Gradle, 2007) and that technology is ubiquitous in the lives of students, this doctoral research investigates how symbolic experiences with nature through the arts, and using technology as a tool, can influence environmental sensitivity. It looks at the ways in which Toronto District School Board educators are integrating art, and technology, into environmental learning. When given the opportunity to engage with nature, using the visual and language arts for self-expression, and technology as a tool to augment not replace their experience with the natural world, students showed an increase in artistic creativity, compassion for others, expressiveness, inspiration, critical thinking, well-being and interest in their own communities. Moreover, students in this study became more aware of their local environment, the natural world, and expressed an interest in exploring this relationship further through the arts.
Rachel York-Bridgers is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at OISE and the collaborative Environmental Studies program at the School of the Environment. She is a former English and Film instructor, a frequent lecturer in critical animal and food issues, a teaching assistant at the School of the Environment, and a research assistant for literacy and gender studies at OISE. Rachel is the recipient of the 2014 Gordon Cressy Leadership Award, and the 2013 Arthur and Sonia Labatt Fellowship. She is the Curriculum Director of the University of Toronto International Art Studio, and the President and one of the founders of the University of Toronto Veg Club.

1:40
BRIDGET BERGQUIST, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences; Course Instructor, School of the Environment
Analysis of Mercury Isotopes in Ecosystems in South America: Gold Mining vs. Land Use Change
In parts of the developing world, mercury (Hg) is used to extract gold by amalgamation during artisanal and small-scale gold mining and this can lead to contamination of downstream aquatic ecosystems. Differentiation between mercury from small-scale gold mining and from other sources of mercury, such as increased erosion from land cover and land use change is challenging and has led to heated debates over the dominant sources of elevated mercury in some ecosystems. This presentation will discussed research in which stable mercury isotopic analysis was applied in two aquatic ecosystems in South America: (1) the Amazonian aquatic ecosystem of Amapá, Brazil downstream of artisanal gold mining and (2) the Puyango-Tumbes River ecosystem downstream of Portovelo-Zaruma, Ecuador, a large mining area where both artisanal gold mining and small-scale gold mining are in operation.
Bio forthcoming.

2:10
INGRID LEMAN STEFANOVIC, Professor, Department of Philosophy; Full member of graduate faculty, School of the Environment
Challenges of Interdisciplinarity: The Case of Environmental Programs
Since the 1970s, “interdisciplinarity” has been a core value in most environmental programs within universities. How is such interdisciplinarity best put into practice and what challenges does post-secondary environmental education face in environmental curriculum planning today? This presentation reports on some findings arising from a SSHRC-funded project that is currently underway. The research provides an opportunity to speak to environmental leaders from coast to coast, to investigate interpretations of interdisciplinarity, specifically as understood within the field of what has for decades been described as "environmental studies." It will also present some visions of environmental competencies as identified by ECO Canada. Finally, some findings about comparable American programs will be discussed, focusing on a large-scale study of how university leaders envision priorities and opportunities for interdisciplinary environmental teaching and research in the USA.
Ingrid Leman Stefanovic is a Professor of Philosophy, and served from 2005 to 2010 as Director of the Centre for Environment, recently reconstituted as the School of the Environment. Her research interests relate to perceptions of space and how taken for granted values and attitudes affect decision making. She is a recipient of the Dean’s Excellence Award in Scholarship and Teaching, with past research and publications covering themes ranging from the philosophy of architecture to children’s perceptions of urban nature. Her latest book is "The Natural City: Re-Envisioning the Built Environment", co-edited with Stephen Bede Scharper (U of T Press, 2012.). After a long career at U of T, she will be leaving shortly to take up the position of Dean of the newly-formed Faculty of Environment at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. She hopes to stay in touch with her many friends at the University of Toronto, despite the geographical distance!

2:40
CRISTIAN CHES, Doctoral candidate, Department of Geography and School of the Environment
The Role of Cities in Canadian Climate Change Policy
The role of cities in addressing climate change is particularly important, especially when observed in the larger national context, marked by a lack of leadership and significant action at the federal level, and by a very varied landscape in terms of provincial approaches. The lack of a coordinated national strategy may be partially explained by the different challenges and opportunities experienced at each level of government. Nevertheless, compared with the federal and provincial governments, some municipal governments have been particularly active and have shown more political willingness in addressing climate change, in terms of both mitigation and, more recently, adaptation. Cities have also seemed to display a better understanding of how climate change could impact them and what kind of action is required. Preliminary results of this doctoral research suggest that, despite limited capacity and the need for more action, cities have made significant progress and have been innovative in pursuing climate policy plans, by taking advantage of existing incentives and programs, and by working with other cities and cities networks, external organizations and higher levels of government.
Cristian Ches is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography and the School of the Environment's collaborative program in Environmental Studies. His research interests are primarily in the areas of climate change, environmental policy and environmental management, within the broader context of the human-environment (nature-society) system dynamics. His doctoral research focuses on cities and climate change policy. Other research interests include the evaluation of drivers and barriers to renewable energy development in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
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