Environmental Research Group

The Environmental Research Group is one of the research clusters of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies. This group brings together students and faculty at York University studying aspects of the Canadian environment from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives including sciences, social sciences, humanities, fine arts, health, and engineering. We strive to provide a forum for researchers to share findings and explore key issues in environmental research.

Directory of Research Associates

Name Position/Title Faculty and/or Department Contact Information
Berland, Jody Professor
Senior Faculty Associate in the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies
Department of Humanities jberland@yorku.ca
Bonnell, Jennifer Assistant Professor Department of History bonnellj@yorku.ca
Hoicka, Christina Assistant Professor and PowerStream Chair in Sustainable Energy Economics Faculty of Environmental Studies cehoicka@yorku.ca
Kheraj, Sean Associate Professor Department of History kherajs@yorku.ca

Research Profiles and Biographies

Jody Berland
Liberal Arts & Professional Studies - Department of Humanities


Jody Berland has published widely on Cultural Studies, Canadian Culture and Communication Theory, Music and Media, Culture and the Environment, and The Cultural Technologies of Space. Her current research, 'Virtual Menageries in Network Cultures' concerns the widespread appearance of animals in contemporary visual and digital culture, and its implication for humanist and posthumanist thought.

Research Interests: Culture and Cultural Studies , Science and Technology , Cultural Studies, Culture and Technology, Canadian Cultural Studies, Animal Studies, Contemporary Environmental and Posthumanist Theory, Music and Technological Mediations, Modernism

VisitPrimary Website and Secondary Website

Email: jberland@yorku.ca

JB headshot white 2014_small fileJennifer Bonnell
Liberal Arts & Professional Studies - Department of History


Jennifer Bonnell is a historian of public memory and environmental change in nineteenth and twentieth-century Canada. She is the author of Reclaiming the Don: An Environmental History of Toronto’s Don River Valley (University of Toronto Press, 2014) and the editor, with Marcel Fortin, of Historical GIS Research in Canada (University of Calgary Press, 2014). She is an executive member of the Network in Canadian History & Environment and a co-editor of their group blog, The Otter.

Research Interests: History of Environment and Biodiversity, Water and Urban Environments, Public History and Collective Memory

Visit: Primary Website and Secondary Website

Projects: Don Valley Historical Mapping Project www.maps.library.utoronto.ca/dvhmp/

Email: bonnellj@yorku.ca

s200_christina.hoickaChristina Hoicka
Faculty of Environmental Studies

B. Eng. (McGill), MES (York), PhD in Geography (Waterloo)

Christina Hoicka is Assistant Professor and PowerStream Chair in the Faculty of Environmental Studies. With degrees in engineering, environmental studies and geography, her approach to research is cross- and interdisciplinary and she employs mixed-methods approaches. Her research examines problems where communities and energy systems intersect. Her current research investigates the relationships between pro-environmental behaviour (energy decisions taken by people and organizations) in communities and energy system innovation in Ontario. She is also investigating the financing of green energy decisions in the commercial property sector. Her teaching focuses on energy and environment. She has developed and taught new curriculum for community energy planning. In the past, she has conducted research on: the adoption of clean energy technologies; household engagement with smart grids; participation in community-based energy efficiency programs; and renewables integration into the electricity grid.

Research Interests: Innovation in Energy Services, climate change and mitigation, community energy

Visit: http://cehoicka.lab.yorku.ca

Email: cehoicka@yorku.ca

Sean Kheraj
Liberal Arts & Professional Studies - Department of History
PhD (York University, Toronto)

Sean Kheraj is an associate professor of Canadian and environmental history in the Department of History at York University in Toronto, Ontario. He is also the director and a editor-in-chief of the Network in Canadian History and Environment where he hosts and produce Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History Podcast. His current research looks at the history of oil pipelines in Canada. He has started some preliminary work on a history of oil pipeline spills in Canada. This project will provide a quantitative history of the transportation of liquid hydrocarbons via pipeline since 1949. It will also explore the historical social, economic, and environmental consequences of on-shore oil spills in Canada. He is also currently working on a study of the interrelationship between humans, non-human animals, and urbanization in Canada. Canadians built their major cities in the nineteenth century with animals in mind. They were places intended to facilitate symbiosis between people and their domestic animals and exclude wild animals. During the twentieth century, Canadians worked to extirpate most of their domestic animals from the urban environment (except for those used for pleasure or companionship). His research aims to understand how these historical changes in urban human-animal relations transformed cities and changed human ideas about their relationship with non-human nature. I am beginning work on a new research project that will examine the social and ecological consequences of the transfer of biota from the Old World to North America and the history of European colonization and biological expansion in Western Canada through a case study of the Red River colony. European colonization of Western Canada was dependent upon the transfer and propagation of plants, animals, and microbes from the eastern hemisphere. These invasive species were vital partners in European expansion in North America and facilitated substantial ecological transformations. This project has the potential to expand our knowledge of how human societies have responded and adapted to swift, fundamental ecological changes related to the introduction of invasive species. His other major area of research interest is the study of historical conservation and parks policy to understand the role that people have played in creating protected natural spaces in Canada. In particular, his work on parks focuses on the interactions between human expectations of idealized wilderness and the volatile and unpredictable condition of complex ecosystems. Sean is the author of the book, Inventing Stanley Park: An Environmental History. This book explores the changing relationship between humans and a relatively small peninsula on the Northwest Coast of North America that became a world-renowned urban park in the late nineteenth century. The book covers the long history of Vancouver’s Stanley Park from its deep geological past to the present, from its original occupancy by Coast Salish First Nations to its resettlement by European and Asian colonists to its transformation into an urban park.

Research Interests: History, Environment, Energy, Cities, Animals

Visit: www.seankheraj.com

Email: kherajs@yorku.ca

For any questions regarding this section please email robarts@yorku.ca