Communities and Ecosystems

Intersections of Sustainability Collaborative Research Network on Water Governance, Climate Change and Traditional Communities

This project is directed to the establishment of a collaborative transdisciplinary research network centered at the University of Alberta with a specific focus on the intersection of water governance, climate change, land development and the perspectives of rural and Indigenous communities.

We are motivated by the urgent necessity for more adequate understandings of rapid change that will inform and educate communities, government agencies, policy makers, and industry actors about appropriate measures for mitigating, mediating and/or adapting to rapidly escalating environmental, social and political change. We aim to support the mandate and goals of the University of Alberta in the ‘uplifting of the whole people,’ and ultimately, to contribute to the development of a new paradigm for sustainable development (Solorzano & Yosso, 2002; UN Sec-Gen., 2012; WEF, 2012, 2013) incorporating new theories of change. We believe that an integrated systems approach is essential if we are to adequately engage the deep and urgent questions that must be developed in the pursuit of human and planetary adaptation.

While our research will be locally and regionally driven, the development of wider Indigenous, regional, national and global collaborations will be important in the pursuit of best possible research questions and outcomes. Specific objectives for the next three years are:

  1. To identify new research questions that directly address societal challenges and opportunities
  2. To identify key applied/social/natural scientists to support the core social science research of the team
  3. To gain better understandings of the complex barriers, contradictions and tensions that confront communities in five overlapping areas: energy, land development, water quality and management, climate change, development models, and futures modeling
  4. To engage with community service learning agencies and the Faculty of Extension in developing programs for the training and mentoring of citizen scientists, and to train and mentor graduate students and new and emerging researchers
  5. To contribute to the development of new theories of change

The parameters of our research during this period will be the Athabasca watershed, from the glacier to river, to the delta and to the Arctic. This approach allows for interjurisdictional possibilities and takes into account overlapping geographical and civic boundaries in examining the processes and effects of change. Makere Stewart-Harawira is the Principle Investigator on this project.