Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: Rural (Page 1 of 9)

New paper: social media methods for SIA

Synthesis figure in the new Current Sociology paper showing sample workflows within a range of possibilities.

This week a new open access paper came out in a special issue (monograph) of Current Sociology about Social Impact Assessment. The special issue was led by Guadalupe Ortiz and Antonio Aledo, and their introductory essay is worth a read, as is Frank Vanclay’s epilogue, reflecting on 50 years of SIA and asking “is it still fit for purpose?”. Our offering, Social media and social impact assessment: Evolving methods in a shifting context, reflects on a decade of research using mostly Instagram to understand the social impacts of developments such as hydroelectricity, wind energy and coastal dyke realignment. The above demonstrates the current state of the art in terms of workflows, and shows how several of our studies have navigated those options. The paper also talks about the challenges, practical and ethical, of using social media datasets, and calls for government support in securing ongoing access for the purposes of public good research, a topic also recently argued by Ethan Zuckerman in Prospect Magazine. Most of the work synthesized in this paper has been published elsewhere, except the brilliant work that Mehrnoosh Mohammadi did on developing a collage approach to communicating common features in social media images to protect both copyright and privacy concerns (see below). This is a method we advocated back in 2017 and it is wonderful to see it in action.

A collage by Mehrnoosh Mohammadi of 16 photos captured in NS vineyards and posted on Instagram, showing seasonal change from left to right.

Congratulations, Amy

Amy Wilson (left) defended her MSc Rural Sociology in hybrid mode.

I enjoyed participating as a committee member on Tuesday as Amy Wilson defended her MSc in Rural Sociology at the University of Alberta. Frequent collaborator John Parkins was her supervisor for her project about the Grassy Mountain coal mine impact assessment process, called Navigating Conflict and Contention in Coal Country. Issues of identity associated with coal production has been an interest of mine for awhile, and serving on this committee allowed me to explore it vicariously. The defense led to a great conversation between the candidate and the examining committee, and sparked lots of ideas for where to go next. Congratulations, Amy!

New culturomics paper mapping CES using Instagram

Figure 2 process flowchart of the new Zhao et al. paper in Marine Policy

Another nice lab output this week in Marine Policy led by Qiqi Zhao, a China Scholarship Council visiting PhD student in my lab last year, including a bunch of other lab-affiliated students as co-authors: Modelling cultural ecosystem services in agricultural dykelands and tidal wetlands to inform coastal infrastructure decisions: a social media data approach. It is a bit of a companion piece to the Chen et al (2020) piece in Ocean and Coastal Management, as it uses the same Instagram dataset collected for every dykeland area in Nova Scotia back in 2018, but in a very different way. Chen et al. took a very qualitative ‘small data’ approach to the dataset, analyzing the photographs (and accounts) only of posts that included the words dyke*/dike*/wetland/marsh in the captions. Zhao et al. used a ‘big data’ text mining approach, extracting and associating bi-grams (two-word strings) from geolocated post captions to particular cultural ecosystem services (CES), modelling those CES using SolVES and comparing (as with Chen et al.) dykeland and wetland services. Whereas Chen et al. only found direct mentions of freshwater marshes (specifically Miner’s Marsh), in Zhao et al. we leveraged the coordinates to locate those geolocated to tidal wetland sites.  This will help us better understand the tradeoffs associated with climate change-driven adaptations of the dykeland system in the Bay of Fundy, the focus of NSERC ResNet Landscape 1.

March announcements

It is the usual frantic end-of-term time, compounded by COVID uncertainties and some family health issues, but I can’t let March go by without a post. There has been a lot happening worth exclaiming about.

First, ResNet postdoc Lara Cornejo started her fellowship remotely early this month, while she waits for her work permit to be approved. She is starting by working on modelling some of the pollination service delivery in dykelands and tidal wetlands based on fieldwork by Evan and Terrell from SMU.

Second, Brooke McWherter, currently a PhD candidate at Purdue University under the wonderful Dr. Zhao Ma, learned that she won a Mitacs Elevate postdoctoral fellowship to come work with me for two years. Her project will start in August, and will follow the new Advanced Grazing Management farmer peer-mentorship program being launched this year by Canadian Forage and Grassland Association and Farmers for Climate Solutions. Huge thanks to the latter for being the official host of this Mitacs. Brooke will unfortunately soon get to experience the work permit uncertainty that Lara is experiencing now.

Third, IDPhD applicant Robin Willcocks Musselman, already an MES alum, learned she won a Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship to supplement her study on my climax thinking SSHRC this fall. Robin will hopefully be looking longitudinally at experiences of flood displacement along the St. John River, as well as potentially elsewhere, to understand not only place disruption but processes of place adaptation and attachment.

Not bad for a single month. Welcome, Lara, and brava Brooke and Robin!

Two papers in PECS collection

A special article collection in Ecosystems & People on “Ten Years of the Program on Ecosystem Change and Society” (i.e. PECS), features two papers that I have co-authored. The first, led by Elena Bennett, indomitable NSERC ResNet PI, came out back in December: Facing the challenges of using place-based social-ecological research to support ecosystem service governance at multiple scales. This paper uses the ResNet structure of landscape case studies (including our Bay of Fundy dykelands) and integrative themes as an opportunity to explore the challenges of knowledge integration we face, and how we are trying to tackle those. The second paper was led by a close colleague since my time at ANU, Joern Fischer, and just came out this week: Using a leverage points perspective to compare social-ecological systems: a case study on rural landscapes. This one uses the leverage points framework to generalize insights across three large-scale social-ecological studies on which Joern has been a or the lead in Australia, Romania and Ethiopia. I love working with these big-thinking ecologists, especially when the modes of synthesis are as transparent and low tech as demonstrated in these papers, rather than massively complex computer models.

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