Relevant Degree Programs
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2021)
This study focuses on the ecological and social metrics of sustainable cities in China. It presents a dialogic critique between Western scholars and local Chinese practitioners on how the ecocity concept has been framed locally in China. The dissertation consists of three papers, based on fieldwork and surveys conducted in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City (SSTEC) project.Chapter 2 reviews the theories and modern history of ecological planning, from which the concept of ecocity and “best practices” have evolved. My fieldwork of SSTEC concluded that in China the ecocity is a product of the local planning regime, which incorporates selective measures and principles into everyday governmental practices and city planning as a way to manage harmonious urban development.Chapter 3 is based on a survey that introduced the concept of Ecosystem Services (ES) to urban planners. ES cover a broad range of services that human populations can receive from their surrounding ecosystems. I hypothesized that ES would be a helpful tool to help planners, particularly because increased exposure to ES would promote greater awareness of the connection between the well-being of ecosystems and that of human communities. The results show that respondents put a higher priority on ES that matched the benefits found in the existing ecocity indicators. Existing planning policy and legislation could be improved by identifying missing ES and adding these to the evaluation framework.Chapter 4 examines neighbourly behavior and citizen participation in Tianjin, China, and explores the potential for identifying people who are likely to become local leaders i.e. individuals who are essential to the delivery of community services in China. Using a small- sample survey, I paired the participants’ demographic characteristics with the participants’ community involvement behaviors. This study contributes empirically to urban community research, and has practical implications for community building, particularly in the Chinese context.
Community-based environmental stewardship organizations (or ‘stewardship groups’) provide vital opportunities for individuals to become involved in local environmental issues and to help rehabilitate local habitats. Community members, in turn, provide vital volunteer support to stewardship groups. The main purpose of this research is to contribute to the literature on motivations and barriers for stewardship volunteering, and in doing so support the work of environmental stewardship organizations by making recommendations on strategies to increase participation while avoiding the barriers for this type of volunteering. A second, and minor, purpose of the research is to examine theories that relate environmental citizenship and stewardship volunteering. Firsthand knowledge on a variety of aspects of stewardship volunteering was gained through a survey of the volunteers in eleven stewardship groups based in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia. Coordinator interviews provided information that supplemented the survey data. Findings from the study indicate stewardship volunteers are generally not strongly motivated by reasons that one might expect from the general volunteering literature. Instead, stewardship volunteers seem most likely to become involved in their groups’ activities through the ‘big four’ environmental motivators of: i) accomplishment, ii) group solidarity, iii) learning and skills, and iv) personal welfare. Additionally, the volunteers in this study were generally more constrained by personal factors, like feeling unappreciated, than by more practical matters, like difficulty reaching the worksites. Finally, the enjoyment of the activities seems to play a key role in the development of an environmental ethic in hands on stewardship volunteers.Based on the research findings, a number of recommendations are made to stewardship group coordinators and beyond-group supporters, like umbrella organizations and governmental agencies, as well as to the volunteers themselves. The dissertation also contains a list of ‘serendipitous’ findings, an outline of research limitations, and suggestions for future research. This research makes several contributions. The main one is to both the literature and to the ‘on the ground’ management of stewardship volunteers. It is the proposition of the ‘big four’ motivators that may act as the basis for a model of volunteer motivations in an environmental context.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
There is an increasing amount of research exploring the benefits of green open spaces for health, well-being and overall sustainability and quality of human habitat. Exploring the factors that affect this direct engagement with natural objects in the urban context can help in many design and planning decisions. This research focused on exploring whether the visual aesthetic quality of park scenery/scenic beauty is positively correlated with park preference, and whether potential interest in visiting a park space may be informed by its perceived aesthetic quality. In addition, this research aimed to determine whether there is a correlation between the aesthetic beauty of scenery and perceptual constructs (such as complexity, spaciousness and mystery) that predict preference for landscapes. An online survey in the form of a questionnaire using photos of park spaces was implemented. Two parks in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood of Vancouver, BC were used as case study sites. A total of 36 respondents rated park photos on a ten-item Likert scale.The research results showed that scenic beauty and complexity are discriminating factors in park preference. Parks were perceived differently for scenic beauty, complexity and spaciousness, but not mystery. Scenic beauty is correlated with complexity and spaciousness but is not correlated with mystery. Findings from open-ended questions at the end of the survey reveal that beauty and naturalness are the factors in landscape preference.