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MAP Gold Award & MAP Millennium Prizes

Posted by Carli LaPierre on March 31, 2020 in News

The Marine Affairs Program (MAP) strives to create honest brokers – professionals who are prepared to make informed decisions in marine management with multiple perspectives in mind. It’s a concept that fosters valuable skills such as objective decision-making, integrity, and communication. In such an uncertain time, these are important traits to carry from our academic pursuits into our everyday lives. The awards and prizes of the Master of Marine Management (MMM) class of 2019 recipients exemplify this adaptability and willingness to take what they’ve learned beyond the classroom.

MAP celebrates the achievements of MMM students on an annual basis with the MMM Gold Award and the MAP Millennium Prizes. The Gold Award, honouring a student’s academic performance and their ability to take on the role of the honest broker, was presented to Sara Vanderkaden this year. Before entering the MMM program, Sara completed a degree in natural sciences with a minor in international development at the University of Guelph. Sara described the MMM as an open-minded program with a pragmatic, fact-based approach that speaks to the honest broker mentality. These concepts were applicable in her graduate work, internship, and now as an employee at NEXUS Coastal Resource Management. Sara prefers to work in the gray areas between collaborating sectors and stakeholders, as she continues to problem-solve for sustainable economic development.

The Marine Affairs Millennium Prizes, awarded to students for outstanding performance in one of three core courses, as well as recognizing a student who broadened their studies from disciplinary to interdisciplinary, reflect the program’s values.

Breanna Bishop was recognized for her work in Marine Policy (Contemporary Issues in Ocean and Coastal Management). While her undergraduate degree had an environmental focus, an internship in Costa Rica during her final year drew her attention to marine affairs. The MMM program has helped Breanna to broaden her perspective to consider other perspectives while continuing to nurture her interests in the environment and knowledge transfer. The Marine Policy course was fundamental to this shift. Through the course, Breanna was also able to set up the research for her graduate project that investigated the institutional barriers faced in including Inuit knowledge within policy. As a research assistant, Breanna continues to take varying perspectives into account as she studies the intersection of Indigenous knowledge and marine protection.

The Millennium Prize for Marine Science and Technology was awarded to Gillian Curren. Gillian, who has an undergraduate degree in marine biology from Dalhousie University, was drawn to the MMM because of its interdisciplinary approach. The program’s science and technology course helped Gillian to bridge the gaps between science and policy. The communication skills she developed in the course were important to her developing a survey to support her graduate project research. The ability to communicate scientific information to stakeholders without a background in the field was also useful during her internship at Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Nanaimo, BC. As both a teaching and research assistant, Gillian continues to use her communication skills as she works at the interface between science, policy, and management.

Justin Schaible received this year’s Millennium Prize for Marine Management. Coming from a natural science background, Justin was interested in understanding the disconnect between different methodologies and their real-world applications. In the MMM program, he realized that balancing multiple perspectives is integral to making informed decisions. The Coastal Zone Management course helped Justin to expand his thinking and understand the relationships between different marine management sectors. In his internship with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Justin put what he had learned in class into practice while interviewing community-based fisheries management boards across the province. His graduate project benefited from this experiential learning opportunity as he developed his understanding of eco certifications and government actions. Justin continues to navigate the complex role of government in the decision-making process while working for DFO’s Resource Management Branch.


Sarah Hughes was awarded the Millennium Prize Interdisciplinarian of the Year in recognition of her ability to develop an interdisciplinary approach in the program. As a journalist and creative non-fiction writer, Sarah focused on issues of food security, with a particular interest in seafood, traceability, marine restoration, and aquaculture. Through the program, Sarah honed her skillset to include scientific, policy, and academic writing. The Sustainable Oceans Conference also presented Sarah with an opportunity to develop her communication skills as the Submissions Lead. While Sarah planned to pursue marine restoration when she first came to the program, her graduate project research focussed on shipping risk governance in the Arctic. She is currently using her writing talents as a policy officer for Transport Canada. Reflecting on her time in the program, Sarah underscores the importance of keeping an open mind and embracing the unexpected.      

MAP would like to congratulate the 2019 awards and prizes recipients, along with the rest of their class, for all their hard work, personal commitment, and creative energy. MMM’s graduates have the tools to make informed and objective decisions with integrity, to be adaptable, and to communicate across fields and perspectives on the issues facing marine management. As they navigate an ever-changing world, they must take these skills beyond the classroom. The world will benefit from the MMM honest brokers.

An event to recognize the award and prizes will be held on a later date.