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.

Science fiction(ing): The imagination, crisis, and hope

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-04
Abstract: 

A multitude of problems beset the world—fascism, racism, poverty, and climate change, to name just a few. As such, there is a need for new ways to see and act. However, society is faced with a crisis of the imagination (Haiven 2014). Social imaginaries are ideologically rooted in the very structures from which these problems emerge. Furthermore, contemporary politics have become polarized. While affect is mobilized by fascists and populists, a politics of reason has devolved to a stultifying politics of pragmatism. Drawing on the work of Ernst Bloch (1996) I argue that there is a need for an “educated hope,” a dialectic of reason and the imagination (e.g. Nussbaum 1995 & 2001). In particular, a radical imagination (Castoriadis 1994 & 1998; Ricoeur 1994) informed by material and historical forces is needed to overcome the problems faced by the world. Building on O’Sullivan’s (2014) notion of fictioning, I develop a praxis of the imagination. Through a study of discourses of technology and the impacts of the various ‘mythologies of the future’ (e.g. Bell 1973; Galbraith 1978; Kumar 1978) in science fiction I suggest the genre offers an opportunity to put this radical imagination to work (e.g. Jameson 2007; Moylan 1986 & 2018; Suvin 1972 & 1979). More specifically, I study the works of Samuel R. Delany and Ursula K. Le Guin and demonstrate how these popular culture texts discursively challenge the status quo and enable the discovery of new radical social imaginaries (Bakhtin 1981; Hall 1998; hooks 1995 & 2002; Williams 1977). While utopia may seem unimaginable, science fiction and fictioning help constitute a society that searches beyond its existing cognitive horizons.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Richard Gruneau
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Corporate social responsibility and executive personality

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-15
Abstract: 

My dissertation investigates two streams of managerial accounting literature; specifically, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and executive personality. Paper 1 focuses on whether companies strategically engage in CSR practices to retain employees. Using a difference-in-differences design, I find that an increase in the enforcement of non-compete agreements (which enhances a firm’s ability to retain employees) deteriorates CSR performance. Paper 2 extends prior literature and links managerial risk tolerance and firms’ CSR performance. The empirical result of Paper 2 shows that pilot CEOs are less likely to exhibit better CSR performance. Paper 3 examines the spillover effect of managerial risk tolerance along the supply chain. Specifically, I follow Paper 2 to use the pilot status of CEOs to proxy for the customers’ risk tolerance level. Overall, the results support a negative association between customer risk tolerance and supplier investment efficiency, and customer companies ran by pilot CEOs leads to supplier investment inefficiency. Each chapter is designed to be self-contained and provides a more detailed discussion of the research question and contribution.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Karel Hrazdil
Department: 
Beedie School of Business Faculty: Segal Graduate School
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The knowledge and effect of a drug-related good samaritan law among people who use drugs in Vancouver, Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-04
Abstract: 

In response to the drug poisoning crisis in Canada and the US, some jurisdictions have enacted drug-related Good Samaritan laws (GSLs) to encourage observers of acute poisoning events to call emergency medical services (EMS) during times of overdose. To date, the effectiveness of GSLs are indeterminate. This thesis undertook a literature review on the effectiveness of GSLs, evaluated the working knowledge of a GSL, and the impact of this law among participants of three large prospective cohort studies of community-recruited people who use illicit drugs (PWUD) in Vancouver, a full year after the enactment of a GSL in Canada. Overall, the literature review demonstrated mixed evidence with regard to the effectiveness of GSLs. Only about a third of our sample had accurate knowledge of the GSL and the GSL did not appear to have changed EMS-calling rates. Additional measures are urgently needed to support the aims of GSLs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Kanna Hayashi
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Reversing the undone

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-17
Abstract: 

Reversing the Undone arrives in the mail as a series of letters engaged with moving and sewing in reverse. Each hand-crafted parcel contains a set of seven missives to be read over the span of a week, with accompanying “suggested pairings” for the time of day, place in home, or sort of snack to enjoy during each reading. The pages include researched reflections on reversal processes, articulated through the practice of sewing. Each day considers a specific facet of backwardation, offering handwritten and typed text, stitches and folds that interact with rewound concepts through an assemblage of thread, paper, and typography. Reversing the Undone operates as a score for the reader, who both enacts and witnesses its performance by reading, holding, and gesturing through movement invitations written within the text, or through the sheer need to unfold, untie, and even cut the work in order to fully enter inside. Created during COVID’s closure of performance venues, Reversing the Undone is a piece made to be touched, a hopeful salve during a time of stymied physical contact and social connection.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Steven Hill
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School for the Contemporary Arts
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.F.A.

First-Hand knowledge of BC ocean change: Oyster farmers’ experiences of environmental change and oyster die-off events

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-27
Abstract: 

Recent studies call for transdisciplinary research to address the consequences of anthropogenic change on human-environment systems, like the impact of ocean acidification (OA) on oyster aquaculture. I surveyed oyster farmers in coastal British Columbia, Canada, about their first-hand experiences of ocean change. Farmers reported that oyster mortality (die-off events) is one of many challenges they face and is likely related to several interacting environmental factors, including water temperature and oyster food, particularly in 2016. I examined temperature, productivity, and carbonate chemistry conditions from 2013 to 2017 using available observations and the Salish Sea model, to understand poor oyster growing conditions in 2016. While temperatures were relatively high and chlorophyll relatively low during the 2016 spring bloom, carbonate conditions were relatively good, suggesting OA was not a key driver of difficult oyster growing conditions. This work provides a novel example of using local knowledge to better inform scientific investigation and adaptation to environmental change.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Karen Kohfeld
Debby Ianson, Jennifer Silver
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Organizing Canadian theatre designers: The intersection of creative and precarious labour

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-18
Abstract: 

Canadian theatre designers share many similarities with other freelance, creative workers in Canada. The conditions of precarity that define their working relationships are similar to those that affect workers in other sectors, such as film, music, television, and visual arts. This thesis begins by examining the existing literatures and research concerning creative and precarious work, primarily in Canada, but also internationally. Drawing on in-depth interviews of 55 designers from within the relatively small community of Canadian theatre designers, approximately 500-700 workers, I examine the working conditions that designers find challenging and seek suggestions for how they can be improved. Additionally, I explore the different models that designers have used to organize in Canada, Quebec, and the United States. By comparing these models with the interviews from designers, I conclude that the best way for Canadian designers to improve their working conditions is to build a closer relationship with IATSE, the union that represents stagehands and technicians. Finally, I identify some questions for further exploration, including the tension between artistic and worker identities, while also touching on the present circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis and the current conversations concerning racism and white supremacy within Canadian society.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Kendra Strauss
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

4D in situ visualization of chemo-mechanical membrane degradation in fuel cells: Understanding and mitigating edge failures

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-17
Abstract: 

Fuel cell is a zero-emission energy conversion device using hydrogen and oxygen to generate power with water as the only by-product. Membrane electrode assembly (MEA) edges are sensitive regions that could influence the overall durability of fuel cells, where membrane degradation at poorly designed edges may lead to premature cell failures. In this work, two MEA edge designs were implemented to study their robustness during combined chemical and mechanical accelerated stress testing. Four-dimensional in situ visualization, enabled by X-ray computed tomography, was performed to understand and mitigate the edge failure issue. Interaction of adhesive-containing polyimide gasket with catalyst coated membrane (CCM) was identified as the key contributor to premature edge failures, which was mitigated by using a non-adhesive inert frame at the CCM interface, thus enabling a robust MEA edge wherein the failures were shifted into the active area. Overall, findings of this research may contribute to robust fuel cell manufacturing and enhanced membrane durability.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Erik Kjeang
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.Sc.

Propagation and narrow cylindrical antennas for non-line-of-sight links

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-12
Abstract: 

Marconi’s century-old commercialization of wireless has grown to billions of radio links. In cities there can be thousands of cellular base stations, usually mounted on buildings, to link millions of terminals, and there are many WiFi devices in homes and offices. These links are nearly all non-line-of-sight (NLOS), with signal processing at the terminals striving to cope with the degradation from the propagation and the antennas. The signal processing, antenna design, and the propagation, are now separate disciplines as a result of their expansion. The limitations from the propagation channels and the antennas are often blindly accepted by signal processing. Innovations become most likely when there is an in-depth understanding of each discipline, an increasingly difficult prospect. But no matter how powerful or innovative the electronic signal processing, the propagation and antenna performance remain the biting constraint for communications performance. This motivates a hypothesis: improving the understanding of the bottleneck mechanisms - the propagation and antennas - enables innovation for better link performance. The approach is to select topics in propagation and antennas which bottleneck the link performance. For NLOS, diffraction is the critical mechanism. The thesis therefore opens with a look at diffraction, in the context of two applications: classical around the corner propagation, where simple arrangements of passive dipoles are demonstrated to drastically improve a diffraction-limited link; and through-forest propagation, where a new model, combining diffraction across the tree tops and direct transmission, is demonstrated to fit the full range of short- to long-distances established from recent experiments. For the antennas, tubular platforms offer challenges which have not been widely addressed, and yet such platforms are ubiquitous in the form of bicycle frames, drone struts, and masts. Designs are investigated where compactness is a critical requirement: externally-mounted, small narrowband antennas for where the curvature of the cylindrical tube is too small for planar groundplane principles to guide the design; and configurations that deploy the tubular structure as a compact coaxial cylindrical waveguide, to feed slot elements in the cylinder. These are demonstrated to be extremely wideband and have low loss at microwave frequencies.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Rodney G. Vaughan
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Engineering Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Fairness under fire: Environmental justice, mental health, and natural disasters

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-10
Abstract: 

Natural disasters are increasing due to climate change, bringing with them substantial increases in disaster-associated mental illnesses, such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Previous evidence has shown that after a natural disaster, these mental heath outcomes are not distributed equally throughout the population, but tend to affect certain groups of people more than others. Yet, inequality does not necessarily constitute an inequity. Currently, there is no established way of determining the fairness of mental health outcomes post-disaster, which is a necessary component of determining whether policies or guidelines ought to change in order to remedy an injustice. In this project, I use an environmental justice framework to assess the justness of mental health outcomes after natural disasters, using the Fort McMurray fire of 2016, known as The Beast, as a case study. Environmental justice theories have not previously been used to determine justness of mental health outcomes after natural disasters, therefore I begin by determining whether this the correct type of theory to use for this endeavour by examining certain critical components of the theory against what would be required for its application in this particular context. I end this ethical analysis by suggesting particular elements for inclusion in an environmental justice theory, to accommodate its usage for mental health outcomes post-natural disaster. The Beast caused the largest mandatory evacuation and was the costliest disaster in Canadian history. It therefore serves as a highly relevant case study to examine the question of equity in mental health outcomes in a Canadian context. Using aggregated data from Alberta Health, academic articles, newspaper articles, and published reports, I attempt to determine what the mental health outcomes of the Beast were, and if they affected the members of the population equally. In my final chapter, I applied the findings from my ethical analysis to the case study. This iterative process highlighted gaps and strengths in the approach. I conclude this thesis by reflecting on the learnings from this application process and offer thoughts on how we can move forward.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jeremy Snyder
Diego Silva
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Partitioning cographs into forests and independent sets

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-04
Abstract: 

To determine the chromatic number of a graph, we seek to partition the vertices into minimum number of independent sets. Similarly, for arboricity, we seek to partition the vertices into minimum number of sets, each of which induces a forest. Both problems seek to partition the vertices into sets that induce a sparse subgraph, and both are NP-hard in general and can be solved in polynomial time on cographs. In this thesis, we consider a mixed problem, where a graph is partitioned into p forests and q independent sets. It is known that for each p and q, the partition problem has a finite complete set of minimal cograph obstructions. For the cases where p = 0 or p = 1, a minimal obstruction characterization of (p, q) partitionability of cographs was previously known. However, it was also known that the number of minimal obstructions grows exponentially with p. We consider the next case of p = 2 and q = 1, and provide a complete list of minimal cograph obstructions. We also provide polynomial time certifying algorithms for the cases p = 1 for any q, and p = 2 and q = 1. We also consider a vertex deletion version of the partition problem. Here, r vertices are allowed to be deleted so that the remaining graph admits a partition into p forests and q independent sets. For this problem, we provide a complete list of minimal cograph obstructions when p = q = r = 1, and p = r = 1, q = 2.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Pavol Hell
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Computing Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.