Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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This collection contains digitized SFU theses except for those theses submitted within the last 12 months. If you cannot find the thesis you are looking for please search Recently Submitted Theses as it may be a recently submitted thesis and thus not yet available in Summit.

The commodification of mobile and internet communications under state socialism in Cuba

Date created: 
2018-01-11
Abstract: 

Current processes of commodification in Cuba’s mobile and Internet communications surface in the form of an incongruent relationship between the (relatively high) prices for accessing these amenities, provided by a state-owned company, and the (relatively low) salaries of the state-employed workers. While criticizing state-led commodification, this thesis de-naturalizes the idea of communication commodities as private goods, and historicizes the articulation of commodification under state socialism in Cuba. It argues that, on the side of the state socialist management, the commodification of wireless and Internet communications is a state-led strategy for capturing hard currency from the sphere of circulation. Specifically, these processes of commodification are related to transnational value circulation processes such as remittances (income transfers sent to Cubans from family or friends living overseas), and to local commodification processes such as the TRD scheme (state-run hard currency stores) deployed by the socialist state to capture hard currency from remittances since the economic crisis in the 1990s. The research attempts to offer an explanation for commodification on the basis of Political Economy of Communication (PEC) scholarship, however empirical work demonstrates the inability of some of the PEC frameworks developed in the Global North to address commodification under state socialism given its historical complexity. As a result, the analysis grows beyond the proposed framework to suggest the integration of theories on imperialism and political economy from the periphery in future research in order to contribute to the development of a Political Economy of Communication under State Socialism. Finally, the thesis suggests the potential for grassroots-based decommodification of communications in Cuba in the form of state/civil society alliances which could counteract the existing pressures towards commodification that spring from the capitalist and imperialistic relations of production, distribution and exchange that characterize the telecom sector on a global scale.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Katherine Reilly
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Energy shift: Reducing diesel reliance in remote communities in BC

Date created: 
2017-12-08
Abstract: 

This paper explores the challenges and proposes potential solutions for renewable energy and energy efficiency development in diesel-dependent remote First Nations communities in British Columbia. Through 22 qualitative interviews, (with remote First Nations communities, private and public sector, and non-profit) participants identified the following barriers and challenges to implementing energy projects: small remote communities have limited human capacity to develop large-scale energy projects; current provincial and federal government programs are uncoordinated and difficult to navigate; remote communities pay higher rates for energy, and this under-subsidization creates energy poverty and indebtedness; and the rates and requirements for electricity purchase agreements challenge the economic viability of energy projects. Four policies to mitigate these challenges were considered for this analysis: (1) increasing electricity purchase prices for remote community energy; (2) streamlining grant funding applications; (3) implementing on-bill financing for energy efficiency; and (4) implementing a community-based training program.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Doug McArthur
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

The distribution and determinants of hospital readmission among people living with HIV/AIDS in British Columbia, Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-01-11
Abstract: 

Unplanned hospital readmissions are costly and common among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). However, factors associated with readmission remain poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to examine the distribution and risk factors of 30-day readmission among the population of PLWHA in British Columbia, Canada. A retrospective cohort study using linked administrative data was executed with multivariable logistic regression models to identify risk factors of readmission. Approximately 14 percent of all hospitalizations resulted in 30-day re-hospitalization, 5.5% higher than the readmission rate for the general population in Canada. Four enabling factors (longer length of stay in the index hospital admission, admission via emergency departments, leaving against medical advice, transferring between hospitals); one need factor (latest CD4 count prior to admission) and one predisposing factor (diagnostic category) were associated with an elevated odds of readmission. Policymakers should develop strategies focusing on modifiable risk factors to decrease hospital readmission among PLWHA.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Bohdan Nosyk
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Visible light wavefront sensorless adaptive optics optical coherence tomography

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-01-11
Abstract: 

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) imaging has predominantly been performed using wavelengths in the near-infrared, however visible light (Vis) has been recently demonstrated, showing encouraging results for high quality retinal imaging. Using a broadband supercontinuum visible light source, a sensorless adaptive optics (SAO) multi-modal imaging system is presented driven by Vis-OCT for volumetric structural imaging, followed by acquisition of fluorescence emission from the sample. The coherence-gated, depth resolved Vis-OCT images can be used for image-guided SAO aberration correction when the fluorescent signal is too weak, providing structural and functional images with high resolution.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Marinko Sarunic
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Engineering Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.Sc.

From the inside out: A hermeneutic phenomenological exploration of the ethical dilemmas and lived experience of an associate dean

Date created: 
2018-01-12
Abstract: 

Academic administrators in the post-secondary environment, such as deans and associate deans, must make difficult, far-reaching decisions in demanding situations almost daily. Researchers have acknowledged the necessity of moral or ethical decision-making for academic administrators, but they have focused primarily on administrators in the kindergarten-to-grade-twelve system. Thus, little is known about how post-secondary academic administrators arrive at their decisions, many of which demand ethical judgements. In this thesis, I examine from a perspective I call “from the inside looking out” my experiences in my role of associate dean at a large suburban university as I resolve ethical dilemmas in my practice. In the past, most research exploring how academic administrators resolve ethical dilemmas has been written using the traditional approach that van Manen (1990) characterizes as being typical of the natural sciences, one which is concerned with knowledge that is generalizable, using procedures that are reproducible and examining participants and samples that are replaceable. This perspective is what I call an “outside-looking-in” approach and does not, I believe, take into account the lived experience of the researcher: it wants for an “inside-looking-out” perspective. To provide this “inside-looking-out” view point, I use a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to analyze three experiences, what I term “scenarios,” that I have encountered as an associate dean: the first involves the performance evaluation of a contract professor, the second a case of plagiarism, and the third a case of accommodation for a student. I examine these scenarios through the lenses of two moral frameworks, Rawls’ (2001) Justice as fairness and Blum’s (1994) focus on moral perception and particularity, and I discuss the consequences, such as moral distress and moral residue, for academic administrators. The relating of my lived experience and the analysis of my scenarios and the discussion of the effects arising from them should serve to help current or future academic administrators as they learn about resolving their own ethical dilemmas in their practice.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ann Chinnery
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.

Brain vital signs: Auditory to visual translation

Date created: 
2018-04-20
Abstract: 

An objective measure is greatly needed to monitor the impacts of injury or disease on our brain health. In order to provide such a measure, the brain vital sign framework utilizes an established, non-invasive, and physiology-based technology, Electroencephalogram (EEG), along with a rapid auditory sequence used to elicit and assess specific markers of cognitive function (marked by event-related potentials (ERPs)). To date, applications for brain vital signs have included evaluation of cognitive function in healthy and patient populations. To expand the applications, this study aims to translate the established rapid auditory sequence to a visual based assessment. The objectives are to: 1) demonstrate the viability of visual brain vital signs assessment and 2) examine the differences between the two modalities. EEG data was collected in 30 healthy adults (33±14yrs) and analyzed at central electrodes. Similar to the interlaced auditory sequence, the visual sequence utilized an oddball paradigm (standard vs. deviant stimuli) to evoke a sensory (N100) and attention (P300) response, and a word pair paradigm (congruent vs. incongruent stimuli) to evoke a semantic language response (N400). Comparison of mean amplitudes between stimuli revealed the targeted ERPs were successfully evoked in the visual modality at a group-level as expected (N100: p < 0.001; P300: p < 0.0001; N400: p = 0.0105). Attention processing (P300) was found to be the most transferrable across modalities, with no group-level differences and correlated peak amplitudes (rho = 0.7, p =0.0001) across individuals. Auditory P300 latencies were shorter than visual (p < 0.0001) but normalization and correlation (r =0.5, p = 0.0033) implied a potential systematic difference across modalities. Reduced auditory N400 amplitudes compared to visual (p = 0.0061) paired with normalization and correlation across individuals (r = 0.6, p = 0.0012), also revealed potential systematic modality differences between reading and listening language comprehension. This study provides initial understanding of the relationship between the visual and auditory sequences, while importantly establishing a visual sequence within the brain vital signs framework as a potential translational tool to monitor brain health over the human lifespan in broader populations, such as those with hearing impairments, congenital or due to injury or aging.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stephen Robinovitch
Ryan D'Arcy
Department: 
Science: Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

The differential degradation of immature and mature bone in diverse environments: A controlled experiment using pig (Sus scrofa) skeletal remains

Date created: 
2018-04-06
Abstract: 

Several studies suggest that juvenile skeletal remains are significantly underrepresented in both forensic and archaeological excavations. In archaeological contexts, the disparities between historical burial records and the relative absence of juveniles in cemetery excavations have been a cause for much speculation. The most popular explanation for this paucity in the osteological record is a comparatively rapid breakdown of juvenile bones, due to their smaller size, incomplete mineralization, higher organic and water content, and higher porosity than their adult counterparts. If this holds true, it presents a challenge for accurately identifying skeletonized juveniles in forensic cases. While the idea is widely accepted, few experiments have provided evidence to support it. This study uses infant and sexually mature porcine models to explore the role of bone maturity with regards to: 1) overall susceptibility of the skeleton to biological, physical, and compositional degradation, and 2) the interaction of bone material with different burial environments. The ulnae of immature (2-8 weeks) and mature (6 months) pigs (Sus scrofa) were mechanically defleshed and used as a proxy for human bone of distinct infant and sexually mature groups. Samples (n=200) from both maturity groups were left to degrade in a climate-controlled greenhouse, either buried or on the soil surface. These two varying depositional conditions provide the degradation factors from two different environments. Every month, four bones from each maturity group and environment were collected. Weight loss on ignition analysis was performed on each sample to determine the relative water, collagen, and mineral composition of the bones, and bone weathering analysis was performed to quantify the physical changes of the bone surface. The results of this study indicate that, in the early postmortem interval, immature and mature bone material are differentially affected by their postmortem depositional environment. In both the subaerial and buried environments, the immature bone was found to be more susceptible to compositional degradation, while the mature bone was more heavily affected by physical weathering. It is not known how these initial differences in bone breakdown translate into the long-term survival of immature bone material, however, this study suggests that any interpretations of weathered immature bone, that are based on weathering rates determined by mature bone, should be done so with caution.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Hugo Cardoso
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Addressing the suicide rate among gay and bisexual men in BC: An assessment of policy solutions

Date created: 
2018-04-19
Abstract: 

Suicide has been identified by the BC Ministry of Health as a key issue in its Mental Health and Substance Use strategies, and gender and sexual minorities have been identified as target populations in regard to this issue. Suicide among gay and bisexual men (GBM) in particular is four times higher than among the general population and as of 2007 has exceeded HIV as a leading cause of death for GBM. This capstone employs qualitative interviews grounded in intersectionality and syndemic theory to understand suicide among GBM, and to generate a multi-pronged policy approach composed of 4 key recommendations supported by specific action items. Using an adapted form of Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis (Hankivsky et al., 2014), these recommendations are analyzed to identify how they succeed in meeting key policy objectives, while also highlighting key challenges and next steps.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Olena Hankivsky
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Citizen acceptance of unconventional fossil fuels in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-06
Abstract: 

Citizen acceptance can represent a significant barrier to the implementation of energy projects, which is increasingly relevant as unconventional fossil fuel production is forecasted to expand in Canada. I use a nationally representative survey sample of the Canadian population (n=1407) to examine citizen acceptance of five prominent unconventional fossil fuel developments: oil sands, Northern Gateway Pipeline, Trans Mountain Pipeline, Energy East Pipeline, and hydraulic fracturing. Across Canada, oil sands and pipeline developments tend to have lower acceptance than renewable energy and conventional oil, but more acceptance than nuclear and coal. Among Canadian regions, acceptance for unconventional fossil fuel developments is consistently higher among respondents in Alberta (the province where most fossil fuel development occurs), who are more likely to perceive economic benefits and less likely to perceive environmental and social costs. Opposition tends to be higher among respondents in British Columbia and Quebec. Acceptance levels are similar for oil sands and oil sands pipelines within all Canadian regions, while hydraulic fracturing has significantly lower acceptance in each region. Otherwise, regression analyses indicate consistent patterns of fossil fuel development acceptance across the full sample: biospheric and altruistic values and environmental concern predict higher acceptance, and egoistic and traditional values and trust in oil and gas companies predict lower acceptance. Results provide a number of insights to policymakers and stakeholders, including the strong regional differences in development acceptance, and how citizens perceive oil sands related projects quite differently from hydraulic fracturing development.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jonn Axsen
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.

Governance that 'wood' work: Constructing effective rural policy for British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-10
Abstract: 

For much of the 20th century, many rural communities in British Columbia were designed as industry specific ‘company towns,’ that were created to extract natural resources from the surrounding environment as a means of economic development. However, technological advancements that have come in the modern day have exposed an underlying vulnerability in these communities. Communities that are resource-dependent face issues of out-migration, population aging, and lower levels of tertiary education. These barriers constrain the ability of rural municipalities to provide vital community planning and development services that could develop and diversify their economies away from a single industry. This study will analyze three provincial policy options that could better promote economic development in resource-dependent communities in British Columbia. This is done through comparing outcomes in BC with the experience Quebec and Finland, two other economies that rely heavily on forestry production and wood-product manufacturing for employment in rural areas. Ultimately, it is recommended that the province implement a Community Development Bank to support the diversification of rural resource-dependent communities.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Joshua Gordon
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.