Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

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Is HM = systems thinking?

Happy to announce another paper out of our Reconciling HM project, based on work Carolyn Mann led after her MSc. Our overarching question for her work has been, “are HM farmers born or made?” and that has indeed been an elusive question to answer. We started by talking to HM trainers across North America, and certainly learned that the paradigmatic shifts are seen as the most important by trainers but also more challenging to teach and to adopt than grazing skills; that work was published in Sustainability last year.

This new paper, recently out in Ecology & Society, used Q method with a set of HM trainers, as well as farmers variously identifying as HM or ‘somewhat HM’. Sorting of statements about farming that were selected as being generically systems or traditional in nature revealed archetypes that reveal the trainers to be firmly systems experts, and trainees to be more weakly aligned with systems thinking though in some cases aspirational. Our question remains: does HM training attract those with the capacity for systems thinkers, which will necessarily be a subset of all farmers, or can it indeed be taught?

Climate Change panel at the MacEachen Institute

Lofty company, indeed.

The fall speaker series for the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance has been announced, and I’m excited to be sharing the stage with some great minds on Oct 15th to talk about climate change adaptation policy in Atlantic Canada. Additional to a bio I was asked to provide an answer to “why does policy matter?”. I gave the shortest answer: “because empathy is failing us”.

Bernard on CBC Info Morning

Nice to hear my co-supervised PhD student Bernard Soubry on CBC Halifax’s Information Morning today, talking about what the new IPCC report on Land Use and Climate Change means for farming in Nova Scotia. He drew on his interviews with farmers and other food system experts across the Maritimes over the past few years. The clip is here.

Wes off to SMU

Wes Tourangeau's last day, with a pile of library books to return.

Wes Tourangeau’s last day, with a pile of library books to return.

The HM project is winding up, now in its extension year with SSHRC, and that means staffing is starting to contract. Really sad to see postdoc Wes Tourangeau heading out the door this week after 22 months, but happy that he is starting an important new stage of his career as a limited term appointment at Saint Mary’s University. As he leaves he has one paper out and five papers in first or second review–five of those six he led–across a wide range of topics and methods. That pile of library books includes works on the Falklands and its wool economy, statistics, environmental ethics, environmental history and more. I feel very lucky to have had such a rigorous and adaptable scholar work with me for such a duration. Best of luck, Wes!

Yan at SMS 2019

Yan Chen presenting at Social Media and Society 2019 in Toronto

Yan Chen presenting at Social Media and Society 2019 in Toronto

Yan Chen was in Toronto again for Social Media & Society, this time presenting collaborative work that was initiated by French intern Camille Caesemaecker, from Agrocampus Ouest. This has led Yan to thinking about a new kind of landscape change using Instagram, after her hydroelectricity work: understanding perceptions of the Bay of Fundy dykelands versus the wetlands they replaced. Those dykelands are becoming ever more difficult to sustain under sea level and storm conditions associated with climate change, and some will have to be realigned and/or restored to salt marsh. This work based on four months of Instagram support the strong female pro-dykeland factor–concerned about culture and recreation–also found through Q-method a few years ago. Nice when triangulation happens.

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