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Research Projects

Research is at the heart of EUC. The time and effort that faculty members devote to securing research funding and to engaging in knowledge mobilization activities help our faculty, postdoctoral fellows/visitors, and students get involved in innovative research that showcases the interdisciplinarity and the broad relevance of our work. Our research culture, however, goes far beyond the money raised from external sources. From the wide array of activities, research, and publications that emerge from the Faculty, it has one of the most diverse and active research cultures at York.

Principal Investigator: Sarah Rotz.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2019-2022.

The purpose of this RAIR Collective research project is to support grassroots Indigenous rematriation and (re)connection to land. It supports the convergence of food sovereign peoples in ways that advance dialogue and action for Indigenous land rematriation. This work centres Indigenous women and two-spirit presence, experiences and relationships to land and traditional territories. In turn, the work is grounded in emergent feminist, decolonial, and activist methodologies.

Principal Investigator: Luisa Sotomayor. Partner: City of Toronto.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2020-2022.

The main goal of this Partnership Engage Grant (PEG) project is to build a strong research collaboration between managers and policy officers at the City of Toronto's Shelter Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) division and faculty and researchers at York University to develop evidence-based approaches to public engagement and community dialogue about homelessness. More specifically, the project seeks to: examine the SSHA's current methods and tools of public engagement for the introduction of a new shelter; identify and compare effective practices from relevant national and international cases, and; develop a report with recommendations and a toolkit for practitioners aimed to improve future practices and inform decision-making at SSHA and across the City of Toronto divisions involved in the delivery of homeless housing and services.

Principal Investigator: Martha Stiegman.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2020-2023.

This is a knowledge translation project that leverages the research of the Indigenous-led Talking Treaties community arts project to instigate, amplify, and enrich public discussion on our treaty responsibilities as settler and Indigenous residents of Tkaron:to. The overarching goal is to activate along-neglected treaty obligation to "polish the Covenant Chain" (an Indigenous metaphor for renewing treaty relationships) by helping Torontonians learn the history of their agreements with Indigenous peoples and with the Land, an important first step towards rectifying and renewing these relationships in the present and for the future. Toronto is a diverse city located on the traditional territory of multiple Indigenous nations and subject to several historic treaties and modern land claims that are understood in sometimes conflicting ways. The project focuses on the historical significance and contemporary relevance of three key intercultural agreements that underpin relations in Toronto today: the Covenant Chain/1764 Treaty of Niagara, the Dish with One Spoon, and the so-called Toronto Purchase of 1787/1805.

Principal Investigator: Abidin Kusno.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2016-2021.

The research builds on the insights of current scholarship from critical geography and anthropology of infrastructure to make sense of a social formation (such as Jakarta) in which environmental degradation, informality and lack of planning have led to both disaster and opportunities as well as modes of governing society.

Principal Investigator: Raju Das.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2016-2022.

Geographically uneven development (GUD) is an enduring problem worldwide. Its urgency is more apparent in the context of the recent phase of industrialization occurring in the South since the onset of the neoliberal form of capitalism. This industrialization, which takes different forms, including transplantation of large-scale industry into rural areas, creating newly industrialized cities, is occurring in many parts of India, in which state’s earlier role in promoting equality between areas (and groups/classes) is relatively diminished since 1991. This new context raises a specific question: how does this pattern of industrialization cause uneven development between newly created urban areas and rural areas, and within the rural periphery? This multi-year project involves much theoretical work, to guide the empirical component of the project. It intends to produce a thoroughgoing, rigorous critique of some of the existing views on uneven development and to provide an alternative framework to understand it.

Co-Principal Investigators: Sheila Colla and Lisa Myers.

Funding: NFRF-SSRHC.

Term: 2019-2022.

Dubbed as Finding Flowers, this interdisciplinary research project integrates art, ecology and education. Inspired by the work of the late Mi’kmaq artist Mike MacDonald, Finding Flowers grows, revitalizes and cares for native pollinator gardens as art installations, and as spaces for community contemplation and knowledge co-production. Working alongside pre-existing gardens created by MacDonald during 1995 and 2003, Finding Flowers is focused in preserving, expanding and building new Indigenous Pollinator Gardens at various locations across Canada. The project partners with local organizations such as BUSH Gallery (BC), Dalhousie University (NS), Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (ON), Maloca Garden York University (ON), Mount St Vincent University (NS), Musagetes (ON), Ociciwan (AB), SKETCH Working Arts (ON), Walter Phillips Gallery (AB), Woodland Cultural Centre (ON).

Principal Investigator: Alison Bain.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2016-2021.

This research addresses key knowledge gaps regarding the lives, service needs, and place-making practices of suburban Canadian LGBTQ2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Two-Spirit) populations. The dearth of attention to sexuality among suburban scholars and the limited investigation of the suburbs by geographers of sexualities means that little is known about the LGBTQ2S populations living there, or how to situate them within changing suburban landscapes. In Canada, this inattention has significant implications: a limited understanding of the spatial, embodied and discursive dimensions of everyday queer lives in suburbia; an inadequate grasp of the support services and the socially inclusive policymaking needed at the municipal and metropolitan scales; and an inability to imagine suburbia as a queer location. This research uses queer and intersectionality theories to document the geographies of queer suburban lives as they intersect with other minority identity markers (e.g., ethnicity, racialization, class, gender, and age) in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Principal Investigator: Philip Kelly.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2015-2022.

The research project is interested in transnational economic practices that fall outside either the mainstream economy of corporate trade and investment or the private flows of remittances between family members. The study seeks those linkages that depend on the social networks created by migration and which generate or promote collectivized or non-monetized forms of well-being. This includes: humanitarian fundraising for typhoon victims; collective financing of social infrastructure such as school or clinics; the donation of volunteer skilled labour by members of the Filipino diaspora who return to the Philippines; networks of unpaid labour to care for children and the elderly; the fostering of alternative economic imaginaries through activism; the creation of channels to export products from small-scale and sustainable enterprises in the Philippines. The research profiles these kinds of practices, assesses them critically, and seeks to foster the expansion of socially beneficial transnational economic practices.

Principal Investigator: Valerie Preston. Collaborator: Lucia Lo.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2016-2022.

Established in 2016, Building Migrant Resilience in Cities (BMRC-IRMU) is a research partnership and a multi-sector collaboration. It draws on over 20 years of experience in bringing together a range of key actors working on issues of immigration and settlement through CERIS, a leading Ontario network of migration and settlement researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. This unique initiative explores the concept of social resilience to examine how institutions can facilitate migrant settlement in urban areas across Quebec and Ontario. The project is generating new knowledge for academic debate and discussion that will be made readily available to decision-makers and practitioners who strive to enhance migrant settlement.

Principal Investigator: Joseph Mensah

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2017-2022.

The study examines the return intentions of African immigrants in Canada, drawing on the experiences of Ghanaians and Somalis in Toronto and Vancouver.  More pointedly, the project seeks to understand the intersections of African immigrants’ integration, transnationalism, and return intentions, and to predict the background and spatio-temporal attributes of African immigrants who are more likely to return to their home countries.

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Korosi.

Funding: NSERC.

Term: 2017-2022.

The research investigates how lakes are changing in response to thawing permafrost in the Taiga Plains and Mackenzie Delta Uplands regions (Northwest Territories) using lake sediment cores as natural archives of long-term environmental change.

Principal Investigator: Linda Peake

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2017-2023.

Situated within the dynamic early 21st century context of urbanization, this project will conduct research and engage in public education and policy enrichment in seven strategically chosen cities (Cairo, Cochabamba, Georgetown (Guyana), Ibadan, Mumbai, Ramallah, and Shanghai) in lower-middle-income countries to advance understanding of how the relationship between poverty and inequality is being transformed, focusing in particular on how this is reconstituting gender relations and women’s right to the city.

Principal Investigator: Steven Tufts

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2016-2021.

The research aims to provide an analysis of the rise of populism in the context of austerity politics in North America as well as the implications for labour movements in terms of engagement with forms of both left- and right-wing populism.

Principal Investigator: Kean Birch.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2018-2023.

This project examines the extent, manifestation, and policy implications of ‘rentiership’ in contemporary, technoscientific capitalism. Rentiership is defined as the capture of value from the ownership and/or control of assets, rather than the production of new goods and services. It involves fieldwork on the following sectors in different countries: social media (San Francisco, USA); biotech (South East England, UK); and artificial intelligence (Toronto, Canada).

Principal Investigator: Deborah McGregor. Co-Investigators: Dayna Scott and Martha Stiegman.

Funding: CRC/SSHRC.

Term: 2020-2025.

The Indigenous Environmental Justice (IEJ) research and outreach project aims to develop a distinctive EJ framework that is informed by Indigenous knowledge systems, laws, concepts of justice and the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples. It serves as a resource for community members, students, activists and scholars towards contributing to the development of the EJ framework. It aims to: support communities fighting an environmental injustice; provide resources to teachers and schools that are interested in educating their students about the concept of Indigenous environmental justice, and; continually create opportunities for inclusive dialogue on how to move toward greater justice.

Principal Investigator: Alice Hovorka.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2016-2022.

How do we think about animals? Where do we put them and where do they belong? How do we interact with them and are these human-animal relations good, bad, otherwise? How might we understand the lives of animals in terms of their circumstances and experiences, welfare and rights to achieve sustainable and just interspecies relations? The Lives of Animals research group investigates animal governance and the networks of actors, knowledges, structures, practices, and outcomes that shape human management of animals. Case studies of various companion, domestic, and wild animals in Botswana and Canada serve to explore the positionality of animals as influential actors that reflect some theoretical and empirical interest in species relations of power.

Principal Investigator: Lewis Molot

Funding: NSERC

Term: 2018-2022

The key driver of cyanobacteria bloom formation is the onset of anoxia (defined as complete loss of dissolved oxygen and nitrate) at the sediment/water boundary which results in release of ferrous iron into overlying water. The discovery of this formation has important management implications because blooms can be averted by preventing complete loss of dissolved oxygen at the sediment/water boundary. This allows managers to set phosphorus targets that protect oxygen levels. The project continues a survey of metabolically essential trace metals in lakes across Canada to fill in gaps, especially in eutrophic lakes. Preliminary evidence indicates that very low concentrations of certain trace metals (molybdenum, iron and possibly cobalt) can limit growth of cyanobacteria in eutrophic lakes in some regions when nitrogen is in short supply.

TTC bus

Co-Principal Investigator: Roger Keil

Funding: SSHRC

Term: 2017-2021

The StudentMoveTO is a research and partnership project based at Ryerson University focusing on an improved understanding of the travel behaviour of 600,000 post-secondary students in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) in Ontario, Canada. The project explores transportation patterns of post-secondary students, and the potential social and environmental influences on their travel behaviour, and the effect of students’ travel on their social well-being and urban systems. Through partnerships between students, researchers, universities, policy makers, and communities, new pathways will be created for public policy development, institutional planning and enhanced student support services.

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Foster/Co-Investigator: Gail Fraser.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2019-2021.

The project unites established researchers from York University with conservation managers from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and students to address pressing issues on Toronto's Leslie Street Spit, one of Canada's most celebrated "urban wilderness" landscapes. It combines innovative methodologies to develop an advanced understanding of human relationships with the Leslie Street Spit and to identify strategies for channeling ecologically andsocially sustainable options for the future. It will explore park users' activities, preferences and ideals, with a view to creating policies, plans and designs for the Spit that help protect its ecological attributes.

Principal Investigator: Gail Fraser.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2019-2023.

The project focuses on the regulatory processes leading to decisions to permit exploratory offshore drilling in or adjacent to marine protected areas. It aims to assess decision-making processes by drawing on comparative international cases that highlight how eastern Canadian offshore oil governance practices can be strengthened to permit more robust public engagement in the development process and curtail subsequent political conflict. The project will use a qualitative, multi-case study approach that compares and contrasts regulatory decisions where call for bids overlapped with a marine protected area in four comparable jurisdictions: Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

Principal Investigator:

Ilan Kapoor. Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2018-2021.

The research aims to investigate how, and to what extent, psychoanalysis intersects with international development; and to identify and analyze examples and case studies of psychoanalytic phenomena from both the Geography/Development Studies literature and the international programs of development organizations based on field work. Particular attention will be paid to illustrating psychoanalytic operations in development theory and practice, so as to make the point that trauma is not just an "inner" condition to development, but is externally materialized in institutional policies and programs. Based on field work, the research will focus on the activities of international development institutions (World Bank, UK Department for International Development, and development NGOs in India).

Co-Principal Investigators: Sheila Colla and Lisa Myers.

Funding: SSHRC-NFRF.

Term: 2019-2022.

The rapid decline of insect pollinators has been documented globally and has significant implications on food security and natural ecosystems. The project aims to take an interdisciplinary, biocultural approach to investigate plant-pollinator biodiversity in Canada. The research team works with pre-existing gardens created by the late Mi’kmaq artist Mike MacDonald and develops new Indigenous gardens at various locations across Ontario. While near Kitwanga BC in an area threatened by clear-cut logging, MacDonald’s encounters with pollinators inspired his understanding of their connection to medicine plants and healing. This was the seed of his numerous in-situ gardens created from 1995 to 2003 which he planted across the country from Vancouver to Halifax. The growing of gardens as part of contemporary art practice has burgeoned into ecological and eco-art genres with potential for community-engaged art practices that address shared colonial histories of food, land use and medicines. MacDonald’s work bridges ecological concerns and reflects on Indigenous knowledge of plant medicines. The gardens provide spaces for ecological research and create community-engaged arts programming to share knowledge of pollinators, plant medicines and land rights.

bee sitting on a flower

Principal Investigator: Sheila Colla.

Funding: W. Garfield Weston Foundation.

Term: 2016-2022.

Interviews and farm tours were done with conservation program Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) participants. These interviews took place in Norfolk County, Ontario where previous work showed bee richness to be positively impacted on the land of ALUS farmers when compared to non-ALUS sites. Nine semi-structured, in person interviews with growers in Southern Ontario were conducted and transcribed to gather qualitative data on the following themes: Farm history and grower education, current grower pollination strategies, attitudes toward native pollinators, knowledge of native pollinators and pollinator habitat, grower support and knowledge networks, and understanding the role of biodiversity on the farm.  The goal of the survey is to characterize the relationships between demographic, land management, and pollination services variables and 6 concepts were hypothesized that impact the likelihood of adopting biodiversity and bee friendly practices. These are:  (1) awareness of bees; (2) beliefs around threats to native bees; (3) perceptions about contributions of native bees; (4) perceived vulnerability to changes in the honeybee industry; (5) social networks; and (6) practical barriers.

Principal Investigator: Martin Bunch/Co-Investigator: Peter Victor.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2019-2021.

The Ecological Footprint Initiative is a partnership between the Global Footprint Network and York researchers who are working to enhance the accounting methodology and improve data on which the concept of ecological footprint is based. The goal is for York to become the global data center for the National Ecological Footprint Accounts, starting in 2019, and to lead an international network focused on making ecological footprint more accepted, accessible, and policy relevant. The research makes significant contribution to the development and implementation of resource allocation, protection, and measurement policies in Canada and around the world.  Given the success of the Ecological Footprint narrative on an international scale, the research will reach a broad and diverse audience that will provide new ways to improve individual behaviour towards achieving environmental sustainability.

Co-Principal Investigator: Sarah Flicker

Funding: IDRC/SSHRC.

Term: 2014-2021.

This international and interdisciplinary partnership based at McGill University brings together government and community-based organizations focusing on girls and young women, 40 co-applicants and collaborators from 14 post-secondary institutions in Canada and South Africa and a network of stakeholder partners located in both countries. The partnership seeks to examine and learn from the contexts in which communities of girls and young women are subject to exceptionally high rates of sexual violence. In the Canadian context, this grouping refers to self-identified young Indigenous girls/women, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, status or non-status, beneficiary or non-beneficiary, and includes Indigenous girls and young women who identify as Trans, Two Spirit, or gender non-conforming. In the South African context, the partners are working with girls and young women of a range of sexualities who belong to two of the official government designated groups, Black and Coloured (mixed race), and who live in rural areas. The partnership is supported by International Partnerships for Sustainable Societies (IPaSS), a joint initiative between the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Principal Investigator: Sarah Flicker.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2017-2021.

The project focuses on what people can learn from the perspective of teachers about the implementation and enactment of a controversial updated health curriculum in Canada's largest province. The interdisciplinary team brings together researchers with backgrounds and expertise in environmental studies, education, public health, women's studies, youth studies, sociology, social work and nursing from across the province. An action research approach has been adopted that draws from the fields of curriculum studies, public health, policy studies, gender and sexuality studies, as well as equity studies. The team recently published their research report: Changing the Rules: Ontario Teacher Reflections on Implementing Shifting Health and Physical Education Curricula co-authored by Sarah Flicker, Marilou Gagnon, Jen Gilbert, Adrian Guta, Katie MacEntee, Vanessa Oliver, Chris Sanders, Alanna Goldstein, Hannah Maitland, Karine Malenfant, Martha Newbigging, Sarah Switzer, Daya Williams and John Antoniw. The project is funded by an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. (SSHRC).

Principal Investigator: Patricia Ellie Perkins.

Funding: QES/Universities Canada.

Term: 2018-2021.

This Climate Justice Project aims to build a research network of 18 or more low and middle-income-country (LMIC) and Canadian emerging scholars (PhD researchers and post-doctoral fellows) working to address the injustices resulting from global climate change through participatory democratic governance. It will also introduce them to the ongoing Economics for the Anthropocene (E4A) program (see e4a-net.org), and also to the global Queen Elizabeth Scholars (QES) network. The QES training of emerging scholars includes applied-research and learning-by-doing through the E4A’s innovative pedagogical approach, which involves experiential education, research internships, retreats, field research preparation and joint research seminars with graduate students at York University, McGill University, and the University of Vermont. The QES program has opened up opportunities of the E4A program to LMIC researchers and has made it possible for Canadian E4A researchers to expand their academic and civil society networks in LMICs.

Project Investigator: Sarah Flicker. Partner: Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN).

Funding: CIHR.

Term: 2015-2021.

The research aims to (1) Understand the landscape, feasibility and readiness of communities across Canada to incorporate HIV prevention content into diverse Indigenous gatherings; (2) Build the research and health promotion capacities of 9 Indigenous SHC youth leaders and 3 trainees, as well as other youth in their communities; (3) Evaluate satisfaction and comfort level with SHC among youth participants; (4) Assess the intentions of youth at different Indigenous gatherings to: (a) engage in sexual practices; (b) use drugs and alcohol and (c) adopt harm reduction strategies; (5) Qualitatively understand community perceptions (e.g., youth, elders, adults) of the SHC and doing HIV outreach at Indigenous gatherings; (6) Disseminate a digital and print "wise practice" toolkit on doing culturally-safe peer lead HIV prevention outreach with Indigenous youth at communal gatherings. The project reaches "high risk" youth with information and resources to prevent the further spread of HIV and other STIs. The community partner, NYSHN, has developed a unique peer-lead intervention called the "Sexy Health Carnival" (SHC) that takes a strengths-based approach to promoting Indigenous youth health at pow wows, Métis gatherings and Inuit festivals. Pilot tests demonstrated that it is capable of reaching youth who (based on their sexual and drug histories) may be at significant risk for HIV with an approach that they appreciate.

Co-Investigators: Patricia Perkins and Peter Victor.

Funding: SSHRC.

Term: 2014-2021.

Human beings have had such a powerful impact on planetary environmental systems since the Industrial Revolution that scientists say Earth has entered a new geologic age: the Anthropocene, the era of humanity and its effects on Earth. York and University of Vermont are collaborating on a six-year $2.5M SSHRC Partnership grant led by Peter Brown of McGill to develop a doctoral curriculum designed to produce leaders who can help lighten humanity's footprint on the planet's fragile ecosystems. The program, called Economics for the Anthropocene (E4A), provides resources for up to 60 graduate students to explore theoretical and practical aspects of ecological economics, drawing on a broad range of disciplines and experiential learning with a strong environmental focus.

Principal Investigator: Jinthana Haritaworn.

Funding: Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

Term: 2015-2021.

The five-year study explores collective experiences of belonging and displacement among queer and trans Black people, Indigenous people and people of colour (QTBIPOC) who live, work or play in Toronto. Using digital maps, the study sheds light on alternative forms of taking space and making space that are currently emerging in QTBIPOC communities. The project is being designed and conducted collaboratively with three EUC graduate students, Rio Rodriguez, whose MES major portfolio is a QTBIPOC mapping project on the Toronto gay Village and the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Syrus Marcus Ware, who is doing a PhD on disability arts; and Alvis Choi, whose MES major portfolio is on queer of colour performance, as well as Ghaida Moussa, who is doing a PhD on disability justice in Social and Political Thought.

Liber Ero Foundation

Bee declines have recently emerged as a serious threat in Canada and globally. While the introduced European Honeybee has garnered much public attention, increasing evidence suggests some of Canada's native bee species are also experiencing declines in abundance and distribution. Causes of native bee declines are largely speculative and untested but likely involve introduced pathogens, pesticide use, habitat loss, climate change and/or competition with invading species. The project builds on current collaborative efforts to initiate captive breeding, reintroduction and/or translocation programs for declining bumblebee species; work with landowners to create long-term habitat designed to support species at-risk; assess suitability and success of habitat restoration/creation; and investigate the effects of global change and gather natural history information using high quality, long term data on bumblebee abundance and distribution; and test the hypothesis that declining bumblebee species are more susceptible to pathogens and explore possible synergistic effects with other threats.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

The Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor (ASBC) is one of the many biological corridors in Costa Rica. Given the long-term and permanent presence of York University and the Tropical Science Centre in the Corridor, with research, education and community engagement activities, the ASBC presents a unique opportunity for evaluating the Corridor's potential as a model for sustainable tourism and for achieving social-environmental well-being, What can be learned from and devised for the ASBC can serve to inform the efforts of over 30 other initiatives across the country, as well as other biological corridor initiatives around the world.

W. Garfield Weston Foundation/Liber Ero Foundation

Canada has over 40 species of bumble bee with approximately 1/3 exhibiting evidence of decline. Research projects include investigating threats to declining species, identifying knowledge gaps and informing future conservation management plans for government and environmental NGOs (ENGOs). The project is involved in a continent-wide citizen science program called BumbleBeeWatch.org in collaboration with other ENGOs and universities. The data will be used to investigate bumble bee community changes at landscape scales, locate rare species, and document the spread of invasive species over the long term.