Theses & Dissertations

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    The Ecology of Place-Based Impact Investing: Examining Place-Based Impact Investing Ecosystems and Enabling Environments in Non-Metro Canada
    (University of Guelph, ) Allen, Katie; Lauzon, Allan
    Non-metro Canada is under tremendous pressure, navigating a global pandemic, rising cost of living, inflation, a collapsing healthcare system, skilled labour and housing shortages, supply chain issues, and the impacts of climate change. The current economic, business, and finance systems are built on capital accumulation. These systems perpetuate exploitative and extractive markets that deepen inequity, systemic racism, environmental degradation, social and economic injustice. Place-based approaches provide context for complex and interconnecting issues at a local level; by providing a place-based lens, interventions can be targeted, leveraging investment capital to create impact outcomes for the communities they serve. Place-based approaches also leverage community assets, connecting networks, skills, knowledge, and opportunities for co-creation and collaboration. However, critical to the viability, depth of impact, and sustainability of place-based investment are supportive ecosystems. Place-based impact investing ecosystems are complex, living systems that can be responsive to and influence the environments in which they exist. Since the 1980s, neoliberal economic restructuring, devolution of programs and services, and precarious funding and financing has eroded non-metro resilience. This has directly impacted the ability for non-metro communities to have robust and healthy enabling environments for place-based impact investing ecosystems. This research uses a grounded constructivist methodology to examine place-based impact investing ecosystems and enabling environments in non-metro Canada. The contributions of this work address gaps in literature on the understanding of place-based impact investing ecosystems, the composition, and the enabling forces in non-metro Canada. This research also contributes to understanding the opportunities and limitations of current policy, and the role that coherent policy has in developing enabling environments. Place-based impact investing ecosystems can be described as a complex living system. A model examining the ecology of place-based impact investing ecosystems emerged from this research, and contributes to understanding multi-level macro, meso, and micro influencing factors of place-based impact investing ecosystems and enabling environment development. The place-based impact investing ecosystem and enabling environment (PIIE) model contributes to the field by situating a macro-level understanding of the influence of dominant political ideologies on policy development, global markets on investment, the influences of globalization on (national, provincial, and municipal) economies, and the role that sustainable development has in fostering the broader development of impact investing through social innovation. The meso-level provides an opportunity to analyze pressures created by political ideologies on policy development, including influence on the development of enabling environments, the economies where place-based impact investing and ecosystem development exist, and the social innovation that cultivates development of tools used to address complex challenges. The micro-level situates the three main components essential for place-based impact investing ecosystem development. Place is at the centre of PIIE, illustrating the most essential component—the intent to create impact in the communities they serve.
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    Transformational Adaptation: Agrifood Systems Analysis from the Philippines
    (University of Guelph, ) Dagli, Winifredo; Hambly, Helen
    There is a consensus that the global agrifood systems need to transform. But the concept of transformation—a fairly recent addition to the raft of meanings of adaptation—is not well understood in climate change research and action, let alone in agriculture and food systems. This study critically examines what transformational adaptation means from a global to a local agrifood systems perspective. It aims to contribute to a better understanding of the concept using an emergent research approach that combines complex systems thinking with critical social science perspectives. Drawing on a systematic review of recent global adaptation literature and a multi-scalar field research project in the Philippines from January 2021 to August 2022, the thesis is a compilation of three papers that interrogates the bifurcated and conflicting views on transformational adaptation and the ways to integrate them. The first paper rethinks the incremental-transformational change dichotomy and expands the analytical space with recent evidence of multiple types of transformation. The second paper evaluates the assumptions on large-scale change that underpin the academic discourse on transformational adaptation and reveals how framings and practices of transformation differ across scales in the case of the coconut sector in the Philippines. In the third paper, transformational adaptation is presented not as an outcome waiting to happen but as an ongoing socio-technical pathway situated in historical processes of change; as a result, different pathways of transformation interact, with some entanglements producing new uncertainties and maladaptive outcomes over time. Taken altogether, the research findings suggest that transformational adaptation might be far more inexorable and inescapable than is commonly thought, not all transformations are the same, and the goals and values that undergird their means and outcomes are far from neutral; hence, collective reflexivity and agency is key to know which transformations support more equitable, just, and thriving world agrifood systems. Future research and action should pay attention to adaptive transformations, referring to ongoing social-ecological changes in the deep leverage points—divorced from the ideological underpinnings of adaptation—that constitute the community and societal responses to and the outcomes of the intertwined climatic and non-climatic drivers of change.
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    Strong process and rural becoming: Geography, organization, creativity, and metaphysics
    (University of Guelph, ) Brown, Scott; Lauzon, Al
    This dissertation situated in rural inquiry explores the movement toward a Whiteheadian (creative, eventful, speculative) approach to rural geography. I approach this endeavour in four formal and variously related chapters (Chapters 2-5) that are ordered sequentially only to a degree and that each stand on their own. In Chapter 2, I outline broadly what a rural geography inspired by Whitehead’s process philosophy (philosophy of organism) might look like. I utilize the fruitful, Lefebvrian model of rural space as developed by Halfacree and reinterpret its elements through a Whiteheadian model of becoming. The movement is one from spatialization (spatial dialectics) to concrescence (process philosophy). I trace a conceptual pathway from the former to the latter and outline some broad implications for rural studies. In Chapter 3, I combine some of the sensibilities of Chapter 2 with elements of the process organizational literature as inspired by Whitehead. The first part of this chapter articulates a commonality of place and organization as found in events. The latter part explores the applicability of this developed model via a modest case study of an organization called Gateway. In Chapter 4, I outline both a regulationist lens through which the coherence and direction of social enterprise in putative rural spaces can be interrogated, and an ‘eventful’ lens through which the hybridity and sociality of rural social enterprise takes on new meaning. In Chapter 5, I outline how Whitehead’s notion of creativity can supplement traditional and popular conceptions of creativity, and then explore some implications of this approach to creativity for an organization called the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity (CCRC). This dissertation is also bookended by a preface (Chapter 1) which outlines an informal and educational narrative surrounding the building of the formal chapters, and an epilogue (Chapter 6) which attempts to partially locate and illuminate the nexus of inquiry around which the four formal chapters share a common orbit.
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    Place, Power, and Policy in the ‘Nuclear North’: A Critical Comparative Analysis of Policy Narratives about Rural Innovation Systems Anchored by the Nuclear Energy Sector in Scotland and Canada
    (University of Guelph, ) Weeden, Sara Ashleigh; Gibson, Ryan
    Innovation has become a central public policy concern, as evidenced by the proliferation of ‘innovation agendas’ across all jurisdictions around the world. While some research on innovation in rural regions exists, it often encounters difficulties in applying generally accepted, urban-centered concepts from Regional Innovation Systems (RIS) theory, indicating opportunities for reconsidering RIS using an explicitly rural, place-based approach. Using the Narrative Policy Framework and Critical Systems Heuristics reveals important differences between what is promised by RIS literature and what is observed through interpretivist consideration of lived experiences in rural settings. This framework has been applied to two case study regions anchored by the nuclear energy sector: Huron-Bruce (Ontario, Canada) and Caithness, Sutherland and Ross (Highlands, Scotland). Primary data collected from key informant interviews and policy agendas in each case study has been analyzed through the NPF and compared against each other as well as against the narratives revealed in RIS literature. Doing so brings innovation systems research back to its roots in systems theory by considering the full breadth of factors involved in rural innovation systems through reflective and reflexive qualitative analysis. The resulting findings emphasize that RIS theory can be understood as a policy narrative that struggles to integrate place in its promotion of particular story about innovation as being for the purpose of economic development and competitiveness; that policy agendas regarding rural innovation can be understood as policy narratives that wrestle with scale, capacity, and self-determinism in rural regions; and that key informant interviews present policy narratives that reflect the way key actors in rural innovation systems address the ongoing tension between urban-based notions of innovation, policy incoherence, and their own insights into the dynamics at play in their local settings. The results suggest that researchers, policymakers, and rural development practitioners must begin to fully engage with place in explicit and direct terms in order to address the hegemonic urban that has become embedded in ideas about innovation systems and that the process of meaning-making by local actors is as important to the development of innovation systems as sectoral development.
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    Indigenous Climate Futures: Alternative Visions for Nature-Based Solutions
    (University of Guelph, ) Reed, Graeme; Brunet, Nicolas
    Political traction for nature-based solutions (NbS) is rapidly growing as governments recognize their role in addressing the simultaneous climate and biodiversity crises. At the same time, recognition for the role of Indigenous Peoples in advancing ‘life-enhancing’ climate solutions has also increased. Despite this rapid growth, the exploration of the intersection of NbS and Indigenous Peoples has been much slower, as questions remain about the ability of NbS to be implemented while respecting Indigenous rights, governance, and knowledge systems. This thesis, oriented around the question What are Indigenous visions for nature-based solutions? offers the first academic review of NbS from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples. It begins with an exploration of how the Government of Canada’s conceptualization of NbS either supports or prevents Indigenous sustainable self-determination using a novel four-dimensional sustainable self-determination policy lens. The lens is used to review a total of nine federal climate policy, planning, and science documents, concluding that despite growing recognition of Indigenous rights, participation, and knowledge, an unwillingness to engage with Indigenous jurisdiction and understandings of Land remains. To address this knowledge gap, seventeen conversational interviews with Indigenous leaders, youth, men, women, technicians, and knowledge keepers from what is currently known as Canada are used to: i) explore Indigenous conceptualizations of nature, nature-based solutions, and the joint biodiversity and climate crisis; and ii) introduce a set of seven principles for Indigenous-led NbS, honouring the diversity of cultures, histories, and languages of Indigenous Peoples. Drawing on this foundation, I explore how Indigenous Peoples navigate their own NbS by examining the concept of Indigenous guardians using a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature from Australia, Canada, Aotearoa-New Zealand, and the United States. Combined, this thesis represents the first explorations of Indigenous visions of NbS, opening space for the advancement of Indigenous climate solutions for a just, equitable, and resilient future.