Grenfell graduate students welcomed Spring by presenting their research in St. John’s during the MAEP Policy Competition, an initiative of the Master of Arts in Environmental Policy program (MAEP), and at the annual Aldrich Conference.
Grenfell Campus is home to a rich diversity of students with unique visions and expertise. Thanks to the interdisciplinarity of its programs and an emphasis on independent research, students’ research often deals directly with NL and Canada, while also exploring pressing issues around the world.
Aldrich is an interdisciplinary graduate research conference. This year it focused on Researchers as Innovators. Students presented their research through talks or posters to other students, professors, and judges from relevant fields.
Rashida Uthman, a second-year MAEP student at Grenfell, presented her research on sustainable development in NL mining communities. She has been studying the town of Baie Verte in particular as a case study.
“[I hope that] this research when completed will be a valuable source of information to policy makers in both industry and government on the subject of mining policy and community sustainability in NL and beyond.”
Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences (BEAS) student Blessing Ivie Akpoguma presented her research on the relationship between peatlands and greenhouse gasses. Blessing summarized her study and findings as follows:
“The study of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions from peatlands and its impact to climate change has been on the increase in recent years. However, most estimates of peatlands GHG budget are focused on the land-atmosphere fluxes while little attention is paid to quantifying the aquatic-atmosphere fluxes from small peatland pools to the total GHG budget from peatlands…. Our findings indicate that small bog pools are important contributors to atmospheric CO2 [carbon dioxide] and CH4 [methane] sources and should be considered to ensure accurate GHG budgeting from peatlands.”
Other participating students included Judith Vogt, a doctoral student currently at Grenfell, who presented her research on the man-caused destruction of peatlands in Newfoundland and their reduced ability to mitigate climate change. Lukas Bosch, in his first year as a student in the MAEP program, presented his research on Canadian mining companies in South America.
Katherina Wiese (MAEP) presented a poster on carbon taxation in Canada. Katherina compared different provinces and examined their motives for choosing different policy approaches to reduce greenhouse gases, from taxation to putting caps on pollution.
Victoria Gallagher (also MAEP) presented her research in social justice and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion through a political ecology lens. Research, which she states is concerned with:
“The study of the relationship between politics, the economy, and the environment.”
Victoria was one of the winners of the 2019 Aldrich Conference and was praised for her in-depth knowledge, communication skills, and innovative approach to environmental policy issues.
Policy competition: academic skills applied to real-world problems
The MAEP Policy Competition is about proposing solutions to real-world policy challenges for Newfoundland and Labrador. The competition gives MAEP students a chance to put into practice the skills they have learned throughout the first two semesters of their programme.
Each year, students work closely with a coach, who may be a member of government, to research and put together a cabinet paper on a key issue. They travel across the island to present their topics, this time at the recently opened Signal Hill Campus in St. John’s, the newest addition to MUN’s campuses. The students’ proposed solutions are then judged by a panel of experts from government or relevant organizations.
Katherina Wiese, Roshayne Mendis, and Claudia Friedetzky won the 2019 competition with their presentation on Transparency and Citizen Participation in the Environmental Assessment Process. One of their main strengths, according to the judges, was the clarity of their presentation and responses during the Q&A period.
“We worked really well as a team,”
“Our strengths complemented each other,”
The other topics for this year’s competition were:
- Carbon Neutral Biomass/Bioenergy Opportunities in Forestry Development, which looked at using Newfoundland’s surplus of lumber for space heating.
- Economics of Cleaner Fish for Pest Management in Salmonid Aquaculture. This was not a policy presentation, but an informational session instead.
- Raising Public Awareness and Understanding about Climate Change. This team was tasked with the planning of a communications policy and its implementation.
Judges at the competition included Seamus Breen, from Health and Community Services, and Kieran Hanley with the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association. Rick Healey, from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and Krista Connolly, from Fisheries and Land Resources.