ESS Lecture Series Schedule

Solutions will not come from environmentalists alone, or from economists, policy-makers or scientists. Complex challenges like urbanization, global inequality, sustainable energy and water supplies, and climate change require new thinking that transcends traditional disciplines and approaches to education and research.

Fall 2019 Term

Fall 2019 ESS Lectures for CoS Website – 09 September 2019


12 September 2019

Ten Years of Sustainability @Dal


Graham Gagnon,
Associate Vice-President, Research; Sabrina Guzman Skotnitsky, Director, DSU Sustainability Office; Steven Mannell, Director, College of Sustainability; Rochelle Owen, Director, Office of Sustainability

In 2008, Dalhousie University unveiled two ambitious campus sustainability initiatives, one academic and one operational, and an overarching sustainability framework. At almost the same moment, the Dalhousie Student Union launched a sustainability program of its own. In the decade since, Dalhousie has delivered many successes in Sustainability-related academic programs, operational projects, and student life, while Dalhousie researchers have made significant contributions to enabling a sustainable future.

While many university campuses have created sustainability offices, offer classes or academic programs in sustainability, have active student sustainability projects, or conduct important research, our campus links these diverse and often divergent aspects of the university together in a common governance body, the President’s Advisory Council on Sustainability. The College, the Office, DSUSO, and Dal Research, along with faculty, staff and community representatives, come together for quarterly meetings with the mandate to review activities, discuss issues and opportunities, and recommend policy on sustainability-related matters. Bringing teachers, researchers, students and staff together in the Sustainability Council has led to greater understanding and communication among these groups, allowed the development of an inclusive vision of sustainability and the university’s role, and unleashed creative collaborations that would be unimaginable in isolation.


19 September 2019

RBC Sustainability Leadership Lecture           

Healing Earth: An Ecologist’s Journey of Innovation and Stewardship

John Todd, John Todd Ecological Design, Woods Hole MA  

Dr. John Todd of John Todd Ecological Design in Woods Hole MA will present the 2019 RBC Sustainability Leadership Lecture at the College of Sustainability, Dalhousie University, on the topic “Healing Earth: An Ecologist’s Journey of Innovation and Stewardship” based on his recent book of the same title. Dr John Todd’s talk will review over forty years of innovative concepts and technologies for a sustainable future:

  • the New Alchemy Institute’s bio-shelters of the 1970s such as the Ark for Prince Edward Island, utilizing sunlight and solar heating to produce food and energy;
  • the sail-powered Ocean Pickups for sustainable fisheries of the early 1980s;
  • the late 1980s Eco-Machines, which grow foods, generate fuels, treat wastes and restore impaired environments;
  • 2008’s Buckminster Fuller Challenge winning design for “the best idea to help save humanity,” a plan to restore over one million acres of coal mined land in Appalachia using advanced ecological methods, including the development of economic structures to permit the people of to gain ownership over their own lands;
  • 2015’s design of small wind powered ships called Ocean Restorers, carbon neutral vessels to conduct marine research while also purifying polluted sea water.

Dr. John Todd is one of the pioneers of ecological design. He is Founder and President of John Todd Ecological Design, and President of Ocean Arks International, an NGO dedicated to publishing, and to healing the inshore oceans. He was an assistant scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and co-founder of the New Alchemy Institute in 1969. Dr. Todd the author of over two hundred scientific, technical and popular articles, and author or co-author of seven books. He is the inventor of Eco-MachinesTM and holds five patents. His passion and his work revolve around the broad field of planetary healing and regeneration.

The annual RBC Sustainability Leadership Lecture is sponsored by the RBC Foundation.


26 September 2019               

Sustainable Global Seas: The role of marine social sciences

Emma McKinley, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK

Co-hosted with Sustainable Oceans Conference 2019

As management of our global seas and coastlines becomes ever more complex, there is a growing call for improved integration of social sciences within marine and coastal decision making, and the need for us to take account of the complex human dimensions intertwined within them.  In recent years, we have witnessed a shift in public awareness and an unprecedented level of concern for the global seas and the impact of societal behaviour, largely attributed to a number of high-profile campaigns and media coverage (such as Blue Planet 2).  To successfully realise effective and sustainable marine management, there is a need to first better understand the complex relationships between society and the sea.   Achieving the goals set out by various international initiatives (e.g. the UN Sustainable Development Goals), there is a role for marine social sciences to support an improved understanding of social interactions with the seas, the factors that influence these relationships as well as contributing meaningfully to the development of effective marine and coastal policy and planning.  Through the ESS lecture, Emma will discuss the growing conversation around the role of marine social sciences for the global seas, drawing on recent research to highlight future opportunities and challenges.  Finally, Emma will introduce the Marine Social Science Network; an international, interdisciplinary community of researchers and practitioners, which she chairs.  Launched in September 2018, and engaging with over 2000 researchers across the world, the Marine Social Science Network seeks to support the growth of this emergent conversation within the wider marine and coastal arena.

Dr Emma McKinley (@EmmaJMcKinley) is a Research Fellow at Cardiff University, initially working on a range of projects which have focused on governance, ecosystem services, stakeholder mapping and engagement, and evaluating the policy landscape associated with marine and coastal ecosystems and management, flood and coastal erosion risk management and marine spatial planning. An experienced mixed methods researcher, Emma applies a diverse range of techniques to understanding human connection to the global oceans, and has worked on topics including; marine spatial planning, ecosystem services, public perceptions and attitudes towards marine issues, marine citizenship and ocean literacy, coastal community resilience and sustainability and the Blue Growth agenda, focusing on supporting a sustainable ‘blue’ economy. Emma’s previous work has allowed her to develop strong relationships with numerous partners including local and regional government bodies, the United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), NGOs including the RSPB, WWF and the Marine Conservation Society, the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Marine Management Organisations, The Commonwealth, as well as partners across Northern Europe.   In September 2018, Emma launched the Marine Social Science Network; a global, interdisciplinary community of researchers and practitioners working in and around the fields of marine social sciences, which she chairs.  This community now engages with close to 2000 researchers and practitioners worldwide and is seeking to further their work in supporting capacity building and training around marine social sciences.  Additionally, Emma is also the Chair of the Royal Geographic Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) Coastal and Marine Research Group, co-chair of the British Ecological Society Wales Policy Group, and sits on the Marine Social Science Task Force of the UK’s Marine Science Coordinating Committee.


3 October 2019

What's Needed to Sustain the Sustainable Development Goals? An Indigenous community-based research perspective       

Debbie Martin, Health & Human Performance, Dalhousie University          


10 October 2019

11th Annual Douglas M. Johnston Lecture    

The Climate Crisis and the Role of Carbon Pricing

Dianne Saxe, Saxe Facts, Toronto ON           

Co-hosted with Dalhousie’s Marine and Environmental Law Institute (MELAW)

Why does Canada need a price on carbon? How does the federal backstop work? And what else do we need to have a manageable future?

Dr. Dianne Saxe is one of Canada’s most respected environmental lawyers, and was the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario 2015 to 2019. She was appointed unanimously by all MPPs to report to the Legislature on Ontario’s environmental, energy and climate performance, and to be the guardian of the Environmental Bill of Rights. Now heading Saxe Facts, a business providing strategic advice and presentations on climate, energy and environment.


17 October 2019        

Federal Candidates’ Panel Discussion          

Co-hosted with Dalhousie Federal Student Voter Society


24 Oct 2019

12th Annual Ransom A. Myers Lecture on Science and Society        

North Atlantic Right Whales in Uncharted Waters

Kimberley Davies, Biological Sciences, University of New Brunswick, Saint John NB           

Co-hosted with the Dalhousie Biology Department

North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) are iconic Canadian animals that have become globally recognized as a poster child for the impacts of human activities on threatened species.  In this plenary I discuss biological adaptations right whales use to cope with a patchy and ephemeral zooplankton prey resource.  These adaptations make right whales unusually susceptible to harm from certain human activities such as fishing and shipping, apparently more so that other large whales.  I will explain how recent changes in the ocean environment  have put the future of these animals in peril through impacting both their population biology and risk from human activities.  Looking to the future, unprecedented collaborative efforts are underway that hope to improve the outlook for this species.  

Dr Kimberley Davies is an Assistant Professor at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, Canada. She received her BSc in biology from the University of Victoria and a PhD in Oceanography from Dalhousie University. She began working on North Atlantic right whales in 2007 with the goal of improving our understanding of the environmental and biological processes affecting their habitat use in Canadian waters.  In 2014 she co-created the Whales, Habitat and Listening Experiment, an 8-year collaborative research program co-funded by government, NGOs and industry that seeks to improve knowledge of baleen whale – habitat relationships and adaptive conservation management of right whales through real-time acoustic monitoring.  She has received several awards for her work in applied and fundamental research, including the Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellowship in conservation research in 2015, followed up in 2017 by the CNC-SCOR Early Career Ocean Scientist Award given by the Canadian National Committee for the Scientific Committee on Ocean Research.  She is committed to engaging the public and policymakers on science-based decision-making and right whale issues.


31 October 2019

Building Networks with Cuba for Sustainable Fishing and Marine Conservation

Valerie Miller, Cuba Oceans Program, Environmental Defense Fund, Austin TX     


7 November 2019

The Impact of Textiles on Climate Change

Kelly Drennan, Fashion Takes Action, Toronto ON    


21 November 2019

Canadian Architecture and the Climate Crisis: Panel Discussion   

Halifax Central Library, Paul O’Regan Hall, 7-9 PM
Simulcast to Ondaatje Theatre                        

The construction and operation of buildings accounts for 39% of global carbon emissions – more than industry and almost double the transportation sector. Some keys to building more sustainably may be found in Canada. Back in the 70s, Canada pioneered the prototype “Passive House” in Saskatchewan – a home with no furnace that captured energy from occupant activities and the sun for heating – as well as the PEI Ark, a self-sufficient home including solar heat, a wind turbine, and a large greenhouse with indoor fish ponds for food. Today, architects are figuring out how to build net-zero energy and net-zero carbon buildings. The world’s largest near-zero energy community centre is set to open in Surrey BC, and architects across the country are vying to build ever taller highrises out of carbon-capturing wood, instead of steel and concrete. Some architects are moving beyond technology to embrace community-engaged design and build approaches, including food and energy cooperatives. This event will include presentation of research from the new book Canadian Modern Architecture, 1967 to the present (Princeton Architectural Press, release date October 28, 2019), and a discussion with panelists Peter Busby, Elsa Lam, and Steven Mannell, moderated by Mary Lynk of Ideas (CBC Radio).

  • Peter Busby, Perkins and Will, San Francisco CA      
  • Elsa Lam, Canadian Architect magazine, Toronto ON
  • Mary Lynk, Ideas, CBC Radio
  • Steven Mannell, College of Sustainability, Dalhousie University

Co-hosted with Canadian Architect, Halifax Public Library, Dalhousie University School of Architecture, Nova Scotia Association of Architects, and CAGBC Atlantic

Download the ESS Fall Lecture Series Poster - [PDF - 2.4MB]