Geography - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Reducing harm through food and work: incorporating food security and peer employment in harm reduction programming

Date created: 
2016-09-06
Abstract: 

Food is usually provided in harm reduction settings, like needle exchanges, low-barrier shelters, and drug consumption rooms. These spaces are often staffed by people who use drugs (PWUD) and/or living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) who serve their peers. Yet, there is little comprehensive discussion of how food and peer work fit into organizations with a harm reduction orientation (OHRO) for low-income PWUD/PLWHA. Drawing on 27 semi-structured interviews with OHRO in Greater Vancouver, Canada, this thesis explores the variegated regional landscape of food, peer work, and harm reduction using literatures on harm reduction, poverty management, the shadow state, and foodscapes. Results demonstrate that OHRO are important nodes in low-income PWUD/PLWHA foodscapes, but that they do not systematically integrate food programming with their harm reduction philosophies. Similarly, peer employment is widespread, but organized in ways that can compromise harm reduction goals. I conclude with recommendations to improve food access, and employment for PWUD/PLWHA.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eugene McCann
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The place of geographic information and analysis in global health: A case of maternal health in regions of southern Mozambique

Date created: 
2016-08-26
Abstract: 

Maternal ill-health is a major global health burden, responsible for approximately 350000 deaths every year. While this is a very high figure considering that most maternal deaths are avoidable, it represents close to a 45% reduction in maternal death rates from 1990, and is a largely the result of successful clinical strategies that were pioneered through the Millennium Development Goals. However, emerging strategies in global maternal health now acknowledge the broad nature of the socio-cultural and environmental determinants associated with maternal health, and call for multi-sectoral approaches to complement the dominant clinical perspectives. While there is mounting evidence on the importance of the social determinants of health, there are multiple challenges associated with identifying, measuring and taking action on the context specific determinants of health.This dissertation posits that some of the techniques that have been developed in the discipline of health geography offer potential to address these challenges. The objectives of this dissertation were to implement geographic methods for identifying and measuring the context relevant determinants of maternal ill-health, and to elucidate the place specific characteristics of associations between these social determinants and maternal health outcomes. The thematic premise of this dissertation was partly determined through extensive exploration of literature on what is known concerning the use of geographical information systems in maternal health. The core empirical work supporting this dissertation was completed in the southern region of Mozambique and addressed the objectives through both qualitative and quantitative exploration, identifying community perceptions of these determinants and validating them using geostatistical methods. Key data challenges concerning the use of geographical analysis are also addressed. Chiefly, this dissertation contributes a suite of methods that demonstrate how to measure the social determinants of maternal health. While this research was conducted in Mozambique and addresses maternal health, the geographic approach highlighted in this work could be used to understand other health concerns and in different places.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nadine Schuurman
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Longitudinal subglacial bedform semi-automated mapping and measurement

Date created: 
2015-05-25
Abstract: 

This thesis addresses methodological issues in the morphometric inventorying of relict drumlins and mega-scale glacial lineations (longitudinal subglacial bedforms, LSBs) which pose limits to a robust description of LSB morphometry and thus to testing hypotheses of LSB genesis, with implications for postdicting past, and predicting future, ice sheet behavior. Focus is on a) the adequacy of previously used morphometric measurement methods (MMM) (GIS) and b) the development of LSB semi-automated mapping (SAM) methods. Dimensions derived from an ellipse fitted to the LSB footprint based on Euler’s approximation are inaccurate and both these and orientation based on the longest straight line enclosed by the footprint are imprecise. A newly tested MMM based on the standard deviational ellipse performs best. A new SAM method outperforms previous methods. It is based on the analysis of normalized local relief closed contours and on a supervised ruleset encapsulating expert knowledge, published morphometric data and study area LSB morphometry.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Tracy Brennand
Department: 
Environment:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Exploring the influences on the Caribbean's emerging medical tourism industry

Date created: 
2016-04-25
Abstract: 

Governments and hospitals worldwide have increasingly expressed interest in ‘medical tourism’, where medical treatments are privately purchased by foreign visitors seeking non-emergency care. There is steady discussion worldwide about the development of medical tourism, including countries with volumes of health service exports that are currently very small. Caribbean countries are no exception. In a region not well known for its medical tourism destinations (excepting Cuba and Costa Rica), there are regular announcements of numerous new private hospital proposals and public initiatives to create policies and incentives to support the development of the sector. While a relatively new area of research, medical tourism has received a great deal of attention in low and middle income countries that are known to attract patients from high income countries. This has resulted in a considerable body of literature that retrospectively examines its economic and health system impacts of medical tourism in ‘successful’ destinations, often using secondary data. This has resulted in a great deal of work examining medical tourism that has focused on limited number of countries and hospitals with established volumes of health services exports, particularly Thailand, Malaysia, and India. Little is known about the perspectives and factors that are prospectively driving interest in medical tourism worldwide, nor their attendant implications for the health systems of countries attempting to market their medical services internationally. This dissertation examines the development of the medical tourism industry in the Caribbean to prospectively explore how and why the sector is being promoted there at this time. Primarily focused on analyses of qualitative data collected from fieldwork conducted in the small island Caribbean states of Barbados and Jamaica in 2011-2013, the dissertation also incorporates semi-structured interview data from a larger study of medical tourism in Mexico, Guatemala, and Barbados from 2013-2014 to identify parallel processes and factors driving the contemporary development of medical tourism throughout the Greater Caribbean in order to better understand and articulate their health equity implications for the health systems of the region.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Valorie Crooks
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Social enterprise in British Columbia: the profile page as a crisis heterotopia

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-04-04
Abstract: 

Social enterprises in British Columbia now labour online on social media websites through profile pages. The online profile pages of senior staff in British Columbian social enterprises revealed regional and localized links to Cartesian workplaces in British Columbia following statistical analysis. A network of senior staff profile pages within these data was analysed and found to be influenced by the material deprivation and urbanity of Cartesian social enterprise workplaces and also the category of a social enterprise. Ten year-long studies then looked at the online Facebook pages of social enterprises highlighted in the analysis of professional networks. Facebook pages reached cities that their senior staff members were connected to in their professional network, and social enterprise Facebook pages were accessed primarily by women throughout the year. Thirteen semi-structured interviews about profile pages were analysed and theorised as Foucauldian heterotopias that 1): allow social enterprises to experience a crisis in targeted communication in a networked non-place that offers control; 2) allow smaller social enterprises to experience a crisis in time and resources.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Hall
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Spatial Influences of Heat Exposures and Social Vulnerability on the Temperature-Mortality Relationship: A Case Study in the Greater Vancouver Area

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-04-04
Abstract: 

Climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of extremely hot weather. The health risks are not uniform across affected areas due to variability in heat exposure and social vulnerability, but these differences are challenging to map with precision. Therefore, this PhD research evaluated the uses of linear and nonlinear statistical models to map the intra-urban difference of temperature distribution, compared the temperature distributions mapped from land surface temperature, air temperature, and apparent temperature (Humidex), and developed a spatially- and temporally-stratified case-crossover approach for delineation of areas with higher and lower risk of mortality on extremely hot days, and applied this framework in greater Vancouver, Canada. A digital elevation model, Landsat 5 TM, Landsat 7, and MODIS water vapor products were used to map the air temperature and Humidex. Records of all deaths with an extremely hot day as a case day or a control day were extracted from an administrative vital statistics database spanning the years of 1998-2014. Three heat exposure and eleven social vulnerability variables were assigned at the residential location of each decedent. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimates the odds ratio for a 1°C increase in daily mean temperature from a fixed site for subsets of the data above and below different values of the spatial variables. An important result was that intra-urban variability in air temperature and Humidex could be mapped using a Random Forest model with good accuracy (RMSE = 2.31°C and 2.04°C respectively). This project also found that Humidex could better demonstrate the spatial distributions of heat exposure when it was compared with the temperature maps from land surface temperature and air temperature. Also, the heat exposure and social vulnerability variables with the strongest spatially-stratified results were Humidex and labour nonparticipation rate. Areas at higher risk had values ≥3.7°C warmer than Vancouver International Airport, the reference site, and ≥60% of the population neither employed nor looking for work. These variables were combined in a composite index to quantify their interaction and enhance visualization of high-risk areas. In conclusion, methods from this PhD research provided a data-driven framework for spatial delineation of the temperature-mortality relationship by heat exposure and social vulnerability. Results can be used to map and target the most vulnerable areas for public health intervention, and the methodology is directly transferable to other cities in Canada and abroad.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nadine Schuurman
Anders Knudby
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Refining the pattern and style of deglaciation on the southern Fraser Plateau and environs

Date created: 
2015-09-03
Abstract: 

The Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS) represents an ideal paleo-analogue for studying the pattern and style of deglaciation across an area of moderate relief. Hypotheses tested on the CIS landscape may be applied to our understanding of the processes involved in modern deglaciation. This thesis addresses current shortcomings in our understanding of the pattern and style of CIS deglaciation over the southern Fraser Plateau in south-central British Columbia (BC). During the last glacial buildup, ice advancing from mountain ranges in the east and west met somewhere over the southern Fraser Plateau (Tipper 1971a), forming an area of significant ice accumulation, according to models of glacioisostatic rebound (Fulton and Walcott 1975, Johnsen and Brennand 2004), and potentially increasing in thickness to form an ice divide during glacial maximum (Wilson et al. 1958). Deglaciation through ice stagnation and downwasting has been hypothesized for the plateau (Fulton 1967, 1976, 1991). This thesis tests the hypothesis that the lateglacial landform and sediment record supports the large-scale regional stagnation of the CIS over south-central BC.Through the integration of aerial photographs, digital elevation models, field observations of landform morphology, stratigraphy and sedimentology, and shallow geophysics (electrical resistivity tomography, ground-penetrating radar) a map of lateglacial landforms and lakes associated with deglaciation of the last CIS is produced. Ice-marginal indicators, including ice-marginal lake systems and moraines are used to reconstruct ice-marginal positions, demonstrating retreat from southeast to northwest across the southern Fraser Plateau. Fields of pristine glaciotectonic moraines indicate active retreat rather than passive melting of plateau ice. Analysis of morphosedimentary relationships of esker systems and associated glacier hydrology demonstrates ice retreat was characterized by low-sloping thin ice where ice-dammed lakes were important for meltwater storage. Crevasse-fill ridges and eskers formed in ice-walled canyons record areas of localized ice stagnation.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Tracy Brennand
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Human-fire interactions in British Columbia: varying constraints of human-caused wildfire occurrence and geography of the wildland-development interface

Date created: 
2015-12-14
Abstract: 

Human-caused wildfires are controlled by human and natural influences, and determining the key drivers is critical for wildfire ecology and management. I examined an array of variables to determine the constraints on contemporary human-caused wildfire ignitions among fire-prone biogeoclimatic zones of British Columbia (BC). Fires in zones with high human development were strongly controlled by biophysical variables explaining conditions conducive to burning, while fires in remote zones were controlled by metrics of human activity. A coarse metric representing wildland-urban interface (WUI – areas of urban development intermingled with wildlands) was a key factor explaining human-caused ignitions, but fails to capture non-residential human development. I developed a simple-but-accurate method to map an area I define as the wildland-development interface (WDI). The WDI characterizes a broad class of human development intermingled with wildlands across BC. The WDI explains more variability in human-caused fire than does WUI, and quantifies a new geography of the human-fire interface.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Meg Krawchuk
Anders Knudby
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

The effects of disturbance history on the taxonomic and functional composition of ground-layer plant communities

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-11-12
Abstract: 

Plant communities are sensitive to external perturbations and may display alternative recovery pathways depending on disturbance history. In central interior British Columbia, fire and logging are two widespread landscape disturbances that overlap in many regions and little is known about how these cumulative, short-interval disturbances affect ecological communities. Using field-collected data, I compared the taxonomic and functional trait composition of communities that were either logged or unlogged prior to being burned in a large stand-replacing fire. The taxonomic composition diverged between the two treatments, driven primarily by differences in a few key indicator species. The functional diversity of these plant communities did not differ overall between the two treatments. Most species in these communities shared many of the same life-history traits though some species exhibited differences in competition-related morphological traits. My data suggest that pre-fire logging leaves a subtle footprint on post-fire ground-layer plant communities at early stages of succession.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Meg Krawchuk
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Modelling of Exposed Bedrock and Soil Depth in the Critical Zone of Southern British Columbia

Date created: 
2015-09-30
Abstract: 

The Critical Zone (CZ) is the complex interaction of the hydrosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere and pedosphere. It is in the CZ where most biological activity on earth can be found. At the centre of the CZ, the pedosphere is the medium in which all other regions of the CZ interact. The main objective of this study was to model two aspects of the CZ: the presence of exposed bedrock (EB) areas and the depth of the pedosphere (soil depth) in the Tulameen region of Southern British Columbia. Random Forest (RF) a classification tree method was used to predict the presence of EB. Prediction accuracy was found to be 88% with an independent validation dataset. The top three predictors of EB presence, which are a Landsat 7 PCA, Topographic Ruggedness Index (TRI), and a Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) were further explored with modified partial dependence plots (PDPs) to determine the probability of EB presence. The depth of the pedosphere was predicted with a Generalized Linear Model (GLM), Random Forest (RF) and Residual Kriging (RK). Depth measurements came from the predicted EB layer which acted as a proxy for 0 m depth. In addition well water and soil pit information were used to define deeper depths for the region. GLM with RK was determined to produce the best model to measure depth, with an RMSE of 0.9 m in the 0 to 2 m range for depth measurements. EB proved to be a reliable and efficient proxy in addition to conventional soil depth measurements which are time consuming and costly to generate. The obtained results indicate that GLM with RK and the use of EB layers can aid in further studies of the CZ.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Margaret Schmidt
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.