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

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Advancing Tsunami Risk Communication through Geographic Visualization

Date created: 
2014-10-29
Abstract: 

Advancements in geovizualization research and technologies present new opportunities to develop sophisticated risk communication strategies in at-risk coastal communities. This thesis seeks to improve tsunami risk communication in coastal communities through the development of new empirical methodologies, conceptual frameworks, and visualization prototypes through several key research contributions. The development of a conceptual framework for 3D visibility analysis presents an opportunity to assess the visibility of tsunami evacuation sign placement in Seaside, Oregon. Further geovisual research is established through the development of a mixed reality visualization interface that enables in situ visualization and simulation of geographic phenomena. This interface is then applied to the visualization and simulation of tsunami events in Ucluelet, British Columbia. This research provides the groundwork for future usability studies on the effectiveness of mixed reality visualization for risk communication.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nick Hedley
Department: 
Environment:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Differential Policy Mobilities: Transnational Advocacy and Harm Reduction Drug Policy

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-12-16
Abstract: 

Geographers have recently taken an interest in how urban policies are produced and mobilized. The effects of how policies are realized on urban landscapes have significant recourse regarding how everyday life is understood and experienced. This dissertation examines what happens to the policy, the people, and the places in which a specific drug policy model, harm reduction, is advocated for and implemented. In doing so, it addresses the tactics and techniques that are assembled in order to advocate for policy change globally. The paradoxical relationship between the increasing regulation and punitive approaches to drug use and the cheaper, purer drugs that flood illicit drug markets has resulted in increasing social and health crises for people who use drugs including social exclusion, human rights violations, and increased risk of disease. Harm reduction is an alternative policy seeking to minimize the physical, psychic and social risks associated with illicit drug use. It is a public health approach that serves as an alternative to dominant moral (criminalization) and medical (addiction-as-disease) models commonly invoked in these debates. Harm reduction is also a global social movement focused on the use of illegal drugs, issues of equality, social justice, and human rights. This dissertation addresses questions about how harm reduction drug policy is advocated for, constructed, mobilized, and implemented across cities in Europe, North America, and the Caribbean in specific relation to the geographies of transnational activism, focusing on: the role of institutional policy activists, the political nature of evidence based policy making and its attendant technologies and practices, and spatial strategies that sustain global advocacy over time. These questions correspond to broader conceptual debates over understandings of policy making and mobilization as well as the politics of urban public health. Using qualitative, multi-sited research methods, this research contributes to recent calls for a new relational comparative approach to studying cities. By examining policy advocacy networks across the Global North and South, I provide unique insight into the various social, political, institutional, and spatial mechanisms that produce successes and failures in policy mobilization. I conclude by considering new directions in understanding spaces of urban public health and what that may mean for understanding political geographies of the city.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eugene McCann
Department: 
Environment:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Re-imagining the geography of the favelas: pacification, tourism, and transformation in Complexo do Alemão, Rio de Janeiro

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-12-15
Abstract: 

This thesis examines the recent intersection of two forces, complementary and competing: pacification and favela tourism in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio’s favelas have long been considered archetypal neighbourhoods of poverty and crime. Pacification involves a military and police occupation of targeted communities, to control drug cartel-related violence. Complexo do Alemão is a cluster of fifteen favelas, transforming through pacification and tourism at a rapid pace, both materially and discursively. This research involves a comprehensive look at these forces in Alemão, incorporating results from my 2013 field research, including interviews with residents and guides. Tourism in Alemão has seen mixed success; still, it brings unique benefits to the local population, such as protection, accountability, and a means to reclaim occupied space. In addition, favela tourism is an integral tool to tackling the stigmatization of favela residents as talentless criminals, part of a larger reshaping of ‘favela’ in the geographical imagination.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Geoff Mann
Paul Kingsbury
Department: 
Environment:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Bird and beetle assemblages in mountain pine beetle killed forests and those subsequently burned: evidence for an effect of compound natural disturbances in British Columbia

Date created: 
2014-09-05
Abstract: 

The recent mountain pine beetle (MPB; Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) outbreak in British Columbia (BC) is unprecedented in severity and extent, and has created a landscape of beetle-killed trees through which wildfires are now burning as compound natural disturbances. We asked the question: Is there an impact of grey phase MPB kill severity on bird and beetle assemblages, and does an effect persist following wildfire in BC? We compared the bird community of central interior BC against categorical and continuous disturbance severity gradients in unburned (MPB-only) and burned (MPB+FIRE) forests. Bird abundance and diversity was higher following fires, possibly supported by foraging resources from the positive abundance of beetles, however our findings suggest intermediate severities of compound disturbances show the greatest increases. In MPB-only areas, cumulative MPB kill was generally unimportant at the stand scale, but local gradients played a role in describing guild patterns, bird community membership, and single species abundances. In comparison, both burn severity and underlying MPB kill were important predictors in MPB+FIRE stands, suggesting evidence of a compound disturbance effect. We observed tenuous patterns that suggest the MPB outbreak might have detrimental effects on avian bark insectivores post-fire, but a positive influence on aerial foraging species. Further research is required on available resources for these guilds after compound MPB and wildfire disturbances.

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

Vancouver's Downtown Eastside: An ethnography of restaurateurs and neighbourhood change

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-08-06
Abstract: 

This thesis examines the relationship between high-end food and beverage establishments and neighbourhood change, which come together to produce 'foodie gentrification'. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, including participant observation, archival analysis, and interviews, I provide accounts of the micro-level practices enacted through material and symbolic boundary-making to elucidate how spatial manifestations of exclusion are enacted and narrated from the perspective of restaurateur gentrifiers. This research project begins with an understanding that cultural production on the ground is a key component of contemporary urban restructuring. First, I ask: how might the study of 'food space' production and consumption in urban neighbourhoods inform an understanding of the complementarity between the political economy and cultural politics of gentrification? Producing uneven and contradictory experiences which vary from amicable and neighbourly to dehumanizing and violent, these micro-practices are an everyday aspect of high-end food space production, and are instrumental to how gentrification unfolds. Second, I examine the cultural production of 'foodie gentrification', and its increasing orientation toward 'social enterprise' as an important contextual and discursive feature of gentrification in the Downtown Eastside. I argue that by paying attention to the different ways restaurateur gentrifiers are significant agents of these processes, we can gain important insight into how the interrelation of culture and economy produce neighbourhood change. This research therefore offers inroads to developing an empirical reconciliation of cultural and economic explanations of gentrification. The micro-practices of exclusion and displacement are not 'surface-level' results of, but rather are requirements of the cultural and economic production of urban restructuring.

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

Beyond the Carbon Tax: Personal Carbon Trading and British Columbia's Climate Policy

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-08-11
Abstract: 

This thesis proposes a policy framing, communication and implementation model for personal carbon trading in British Columbia. Personal carbon trading is a scheme under which all individuals are allocated a number of free carbon allowances forming a personal carbon budget. Persons whose carbon emissions are lower than their carbon budgets can sell their surplus to persons who have exceeded theirs. As distributed allowances are reduced annually, consumers are encouraged to modify their behaviour and/or adopt technologies in order not to exceed their carbon budget. Personal carbon trading and carbon taxes are both carbon pricing instruments that, using different policy framings, aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Comparative experiments in the United Kingdom tested the hypothesis that, due to economic, social and psychological drivers, personal carbon trading would have greater potential to deliver emission reductions than taxation alone. This thesis explores that hypothesis in the context of British Columbia’s climate policy. It builds on an analysis of the BC carbon tax, international examples of carbon pricing instruments, and strategies for behavioural change such as social networking, loyalty management, apps development and gamification. Interviews were conducted with experts in financial services, energy efficiency, and the green economy, as well as with specialists in climate, health and taxation policy. They offered opinions on the potential of personal carbon trading to increase individuals’ participation in carbon emission reductions in BC. Their input, together with a review of the theoretical literature and practical case studies, informed the proposed design of a personal carbon trading system for BC. The thesis concludes with policy recommendations for increasing individual engagement, carbon budgeting and collective action by linking personal carbon trading to social, financial and health incentives.

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

Mobile Computers for Injury Surveillance: A Multi-faceted Feasibility Assessment

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-08-05
Abstract: 

Mobile computers combined with sensors and knowledgeable users, present new opportunities to quickly and relatively easily collect copious amounts of heterogeneous data relating to an assortment of phenomena. At the same time, increased use of mobile computing has heightened users’ expectations in terms of application design and ease of use. Through this dissertation I seek to reveal ways in which mobile computers can be used to collect meaningful data, underlining the role of usability in this process.This dissertation uniquely identifies intersections between volunteered geographic information (VGI), location based services (LBS) and geovisualization literatures. Smartphone users address this integrated trinity within single applications yet the literature pertaining to the use of these components is currently fragmented. VGI is the collection of the data that are then distributed to the user through LBS while geovisualization is the actual interface that the user either contributes or consumes the information. The tight interrelationship between these three facets informs the success or failure of location based applications. Finally, I apply this theoretical framework to two case studies, one in which I collect perceptions of use of mobile location based applications, while the second case study investigates the data collection process using tablet computers in a clinical setting. I outline findings gathered via these two case studies regarding the use of mobile computers for geographic inquiry. Based on this research, it was found that application user interfaces act as information funnels – determining the success or failure of the application. The usability of the user interface or geovisualization dictates what information goes in or out of the device and is delivered or obtained from the user.

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

The role of negative carbon dioxide emissions in climate system reversibility

Date created: 
2014-06-27
Abstract: 

The current trend of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations is likely to lead to harmful changes in Earth’s climate system. This research explores the role of artificial atmospheric CO2 removal (referred to as negative emissions) in reversing human-induced climate change. We designed a range of plausible CO2 emission scenarios, which follow a gradual transition from a fossil fuel driven economy to a zero-emission energy system, followed by a period of negative emissions. The climate system components’ responses are computed using the University of Victoria Earth System Climate Model of intermediate complexity.The results suggest that while it is possible to restore global mean temperature to a lower level after overshoot (i.e. 2°C above pre-industrial), sea level rise is not reversible for several centuries, despite implementation of large amounts of negative emissions. Outgassing of CO2 from terrestrial and marine carbon sinks offsets the artificial removal of atmospheric CO2, thereby reducing its effectiveness.

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

Law, property and power: a critical legal geography of matrimonial real property on reserve

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-05-22
Abstract: 

Until recently, spouses living on First Nation reserves in Canada did not have access to legal recourse when dealing with their family homes following the dissolution of their relationships. Federal law governing life on First Nation reserves did not address the division of matrimonial real property (MRP), and provincial/territorial law had limited application on reserve. In response to mounting concerns about this “legislative gap,” the federal government undertook a nation-wide “consultation” process (2006-2007) aimed at identifying a viable legislative solution to deal with MRP on reserve. The outcome of this process was a seemingly straightforward piece of property legislation that would apparently resolve the legislative gap while simultaneously addressing First Nation concerns around jurisdiction, culture/tradition, and consultation. However, despite being championed as a viable legislative solution, the Act was not widely supported. This research is broadly concerned with exploring theories of property to understand various ways in which property is conceptualized. I trace why these different and often competing conceptualizations of property matter in the context of matrimonial real property on reserve. The study is informed by critical legal geography literature and theories of property that argue spatial-legal categories are not fixed, apolitical and neutral. Rather, they are contested, enacted and inextricably linked to relations of power. I analyze discourses around “solving” the legislative gap in order to highlight the ways in which dominant conceptualizations of property serve to bracket matrimonial real property on reserve, and I consider the discursive “work” of property with respect to matrimonial real property on First Nation reserves in Canada. This research expands an understanding of the potential performativity of property with respect to matrimonial real property, and explores the applicability of property theory to questions concerning Indigenous people(s) and spaces in colonial contexts. Exploring the legal geographies of property on reserve is relevant to current Canadian political and social life, and this research contributes greater insight into and appreciation of this under-theorized topic.

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

Spatial Tactics in Vancouver's Judicial System

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-04-24
Abstract: 

This thesis draws on field work in Vancouver’s adult criminal court system, a quantitative analysis of a one month sample of court records, interviews with judges and attorneys working in Vancouver’s criminal court, and interviews with individuals effected by court orders to examine the legal construction, enforcement, and overall effect of spatially restrictive conditions of release, or ‘red zones’, imposed on bail. Conditions of bail are found to occupy an increasingly central role in contemporary Canadian criminal justice and serve as the basis for new forms of police practice. The law grants police and courts broad discretionary authority to impose red zones, based on standards of reasonableness that assume a connection between disorderly behaviour and particularly urban areas or zones. Quantitative analysis of court records finds that bail orders in Vancouver adult criminal courts routinely employ spatially restrictive conditions of release. These spatial restrictions concentrate in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood where they are used as a policing tool. In this context many Downtown Eastside residents find everyday behaviours criminalized and police discretion to search and detain increased. This research sheds light on understudied exclusionary aspects of the contemporary administration of justice in Canada.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Nicholas Blomley
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.