Grad profile: Addressing gaps in governance

Weishan Wang, Interdisciplinary PhD

- June 2, 2023

Weishan Wang. (Nick Pearce photo)
Weishan Wang. (Nick Pearce photo)

This article is part of a series focusing on the grads of the Dalhousie Class of 2023. Spring Convocation runs from May 29 to June 7 in Halifax and Truro. Read all our profiles here as they are published, and for more information visit the Convocation website.

Growing up inland in Shijiazhuang — located in China’s Hebei Province — Weishan Wang would often find herself visiting coastal areas on holiday trips with her family. The vacations cultivated a strong appreciation of the ocean from a young age.

When Weishan decided to pursue her undergraduate degree, she left her hometown to study business administration by the water at Shanghai Maritime University, where she began to learn about commercial opportunities within the shipping industry.

Soon after completing her undergrad in 2016, Weishan moved to Nova Scotia to join Dal’s Master of Marine Management program. During the program, she began her internship at the Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response Network and started to look at ocean-related issues through a new lens.

“During my undergrad, my research was related to helping shipping companies boost their revenue and pursue their interests from a commercial perspective,” says Weishan. “But when I joined the Master of Marine Management program at Dal, I began to look at the more urgent issue of how shipping has brought forth a lot of negative impacts on the environment and local communities, particularly in the Canadian Arctic.”

Weishan’s interest in this topic only grew, and when she was presented with the opportunity to join Dal’s Interdisciplinary PhD program and further her research under the supervision of associate professor Dr. Claudio Aporta, she took it.

Expanding on her master’s thesis, Weishan’s PhD research looked at how marine spatial planning can be used as a framework to support the governance of Arctic shipping while prioritizing Indigenous rights and engagement – an area she believes will be of relevance for decades to come.  

“The topic of Arctic shipping is really important in the context of climate change,” says Weishan. “Now is the right time to try and make any contribution I can.”

Paving the way for policy change

Weishan, who crossed the stage during a Convocation ceremony Wednesday, ends her close to seven-year journey at Dal on a high note. Reflecting back, she considers the final year of her studies the best yet.

“In the fourth year of my PhD studies, I got a lot of opportunities to share my research outcomes with more people,” she says.

Along with attending conferences and workshops during this time, Weishan joined Dal’s OpenThink program, which gave her the opportunity to communicate her findings with the greater public through monthly articles with the aim of influencing public discourse and policy.

As for next steps, Weishan hopes to continue her research and find opportunities to support Inuit engagement in shipping governance. Eventually, she would like to focus on policy analysis.

“Informing policy making is a big goal of mine for the future. It’s an area I feel I can really make a difference in.”


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