Fall 2019 ESS Lectures

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         

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


The UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are top of mind in recent years, as many communities and nations attempt to identify how to address health and social inequities, stem the onslaught of climate change, all while trying to maintain and grow healthy economies. In this lecture, Dr. Martin challenges us to consider that these things are not mutually exclusive and that Indigenous community-based and community-led research offers a critical lens through which to not only identify the interconnections between each of these issues, but that addressing them requires the wisdom offered by our Indigenous Elders and Knowledge-Keepers.


Debbie Martin is Inuk and a member of NunatuKavut. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous peoples’ health and well-being, and is an associate professor of health promotion, with cross-appointments in the Faculty of Dentistry and School for Resource and Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University. She chairs the Advisory Board for the Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health at the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, is an Associate Editor for the Canadian Journal of Public Health and sits on the board of Research Canada. She also leads the Atlantic Indigenous Mentorship Network, which offers funding and builds capacity for graduate trainees in the region to undertake Indigenous health research. She is a proud mom to two amazing kids and one perpetually shedding dog, all of whom keep her on her toes and remind her daily about what’s important.


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

Cuba is home to some of the healthiest coral reefs in Caribbean and with almost 25% of its coastal waters under protection, is a leader in marine conservation. For almost 20 years, Environmental Defense Fund has collaborated with Cuban partners to jointly advance ocean science, management and conservation and create a bridge between our two countries. The environmental challenges that the U.S. and Cuba must face together are serious, including overfishing, degradation to coral reef ecosystems and the impacts of climate change. Our partnerships create opportunities for managers, scientists, and fishers to exchange experiences and learn from each other, bringing the U.S., Cuba and other neighboring nations together around our shared resources. Together we are building networks that advance cooperation around the shared goals of marine conservation, sustainability and science-based management. While showcasing Cuba’s magnificent marine life, I will review our recent initiatives and the resulting advances in science and conservation, how Cuba is leading the way as an environmental advocate across the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean and future opportunities for continued collaboration.

Valerie Miller is the Senior Manager for EDF’s Cuba Oceans Program. In this position, she works with a multi-national team of government, academic, and civil society partners to develop fisheries management and conservation initiatives with Cuba that can benefit the wider Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region. She develops outreach support and capacity building activities for on-the-ground partners that connect fishers, coastal communities, scientists, and government administrators. In recent years, Valerie has supported the Cuban government’s development of their National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Sharks, the implementation of a community-based sustainable fisheries project, and the creation of a course on Sustainable Fisheries Management given at the University of Havana. Valerie has a dual‐degree M.S. in Conservation Leadership from Colorado State University (CSU) and El Colegio de la Frontera Sur in Mexico, and a B.S. in Environmental Communication and Spanish from CSU.


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 high-rises 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

28 November 2019

ESS Grad Showcase: Youth Leading Change


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