team brings together many disciplines to build toward a methodology
that combines approaches from political-economy (to understand
larger contexts shaping of Toronto’s waterfront), scientific
inquiry (to understand ecological relationships), environmental
trace relations between human activities and natural and landscape
features), and discourse analysis (to analyse images and documents
produced by various groups).
Gene Desfor, Principal Investigator, is Associate
Professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.
research builds on Desfor’s longstanding research and teaching
on waterfront development, processes of urban change and urban nature.
It is a continuation of research in which he has been involved for
more than twenty-five years. Beginning in 1979, Desfor was a member
of an interdisciplinary research team studying Toronto’s
waterfront. In addition to his scholarly research, Desfor has undertaken
work with the Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront.
Most recently he published Nature and the City (with Roger Keil),
which resulted from a previous SSHRC grant. This volume focuses
on urban environmental policy formation as influenced by economic,
society and government spheres and is directly related to research
in this project.
Scott Prudham, Research Co-Investigator, is Associate Professor
in the Department of Geography and the Centre for Environment at
the University of Toronto. His research addresses, at the broadest
level, the set of problems (political, economic, and ecological)
arising from attempts to make discrete elements of nature circulate
as capitalist commodities. This entails examination of nature-based
capital accumulation, its regulation, and its contestation. He has
recently completed a book, Knock on Wood; Nature as Commodity
in Douglas-fir Country, examining the conversion of old-growth to young-growth
forests in Oregon as a case study of capitalist nature. Related work
explores the contemporary and historical politics of forest management,
including sustained yield forest policy, in British Columbia. An
additional avenue of research concerns the regulation and politics
of genetically modified organisms in Canada, particularly in the
food and agriculture sectors. Scott's research is supported by SSHRC
through a standard research grant and also under the auspices of
Major Collaborative Research Initiative called Globalization
and Autonomy, administered primarily by Professor William Coleman of
Tenley Conway, Research Co-Investigator, is Assistant Professor
in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto. This
project relates to her ongoing research exploring interactions between
land use change and biophysical conditions in urban landscapes. One
area of emphasis has been examining land use policies and land cover
interactions in using a GIS-based modelling approach. A second area
of research involves investigations of alternative approaches to
conceptualize and quantify urban-ecological interactions. This effort
includes examination of the influence of cultural boundaries on biophysical
conditions and the development of metrics quantifying ecological
heterogeneity in suburban landscapes. She is currently involved in
an analysis of the influence of urban pattern on ecological heterogeneity
across the Greater Toronto Area.
Gail Fraser, Research Collaborator, is Assistant Professor in the
Faculty of Environmental Studies. She draws on her recent research
on bird populations to study environmental transformations on the
Leslie Street Spit and, in particular, the ways in which environmental
management practices and ideologies of nature have been instrumental
in influencing populations of colonial waterbirds.
Michael Moir, Research Collaborator, is University
Archivist at York University and has been highly active in organizing
resources in Toronto – we point to his work with the Toronto
Harbour Commission – and engaged with historical waterfront
research. Moir will conduct research on shipbuilding and will act
as a resource for all members of the team researching land development
activities in the port lands and Don River Valley.
John Jørgensen, Research Collaborator, is
an urban geographer with the Danish Centre for Forestry, Landscape
and Planning, in
Copenhagen, Denmark. He has a wealth of experience in research
and teaching on
urban and regional issues in a European context, and has recently
been working with the Nordic Centre for Spatial Development. In
the second and third years of the project, he will be responsible
initiating discussions between our group and European researchers
concerned with waterfront research.
Adrian Ivakhiv, Research Collaborator, is Assistant Professor and
Co-ordinator of the graduate program in Environmental Thought and
Culture at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources,
University of Vermont. His research concerns culture (including media,
visual and artistic culture, and cultural identity practices) as
interface between ecology and political economy. His book Claiming
Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and Politics at Glastonbury and Sedona examines
the interplay between landscape, tourism, religion, science, and
capitalism at two contemporary sites of eco-spiritual pilgrimage.
He brings an extensive background in environmental philosophy and
interdisciplinary methodology to the group's reflexive research process.
In addition, we have many PhD and Master’s
students working with the team:
Jennifer Bonnell is
a PhD student in History of Education at the Ontario Institute
for Studies in Education,
University of Toronto.
Her dissertation research will explore the social history of the
Don River in Toronto and the range of factors – ecological,
cultural and economic – that have shaped the river’s
course and condition and people’s responses to it over time.
Jennifer holds an MA in Environmental Studies from the University
of Victoria; she was recently awarded a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship
to pursue her research on public memory and environmental change.
completing a doctorate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies.
Her dissertation is an interdisciplinary study of the discourses
and practices of sustainability in Toronto's current
waterfront revitalization plans. Her recent publications on Toronto's
plan are: "
Image-Making by the Water: Global City Dreams and the Ecology of
Exclusion" (co-authored with Douglas Young) in: The Contested
Metropolis: Six Cities at the Beginning of the 21st Century (2004);
Emergence of 'Smart Growth' Intensification: Environment and Economy
Official Plan" (2004) in: Local Environment: An International
Journal of Justice and Sustainability. She recently completed a
paper on urban port security
in North America with Deborah Cowen (York University) entitled, "Competitive
Cities and Secure Nations: Conflicts and Convergences in Urban
Waterfront Agendas after 9/11" (under review by the International
Journal of Urban and Regional Research). Susannah is also a research
at York University's
Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS).
Jennifer Gerrits is a PhD student in the Faculty
of Environmental Studies at York University. Her research interests
cities in Canada’s maritime provinces, and her involvement
with the project centres around her comprehensive work on archival
management and research.
Paul Jackson is a PhD student in Geography at the
University of Toronto whose research combines urban political
and the commodification of nature. Previous research at York University’s
Faculty of Environmental Studies investigated the city/countryside
divide with regards to agricultural land and farmers, exurban landscapes,
conservation planning projects and critical urban geography. He has
recently co-authored an article in City with Gerda R. Wekerle, entitled “Urbanizing
the security agenda: Anti-terrorism, urban sprawl and social movements.”
Jennefer Laidley is a PhD student in the Faculty
of Environmental Studies at York University. Her current research
conflation of environment and infrastructure on Toronto’s Central
Waterfront as a political strategy in the expansion of private-sector
involvement in urban governance in Toronto. Her undergraduate degree
in English at Simon Fraser University was followed by ten years working
as a political assistant, most recently at Toronto’s City Hall.
Her master’s major paper, Constructing a Foundation for
Change: The Ecosystem Approach and the Global Imperative on Toronto’s
Central Waterfront, was recently nominated for publication in the
Faculty’s Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Series.
Korice Moir is
a Masters student in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at
York University. She has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University
of Alberta and her current research interests include water demand
management, equity and consumption. She is working with the project
as a Graduate
Assistant, setting up our online waterfront archive.