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Updated: 34 min 18 sec ago

Historic photos from Brock collection part of AGO and ROM exhibits

9 hours 5 min ago

MEDIA RELEASE: 27 April 2017 - R00087
 
The photographs are simple. And yet the stories behind the subjects in them are incredibly complex.
 
A collection of photographs from Brock University’s Special Collections and Archives are being featured in a pair of high-profile exhibits at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum.
 
The photographs are part of a remarkable collection donated to Brock University by Rick Bell in 2010. It features more than 300 photos and various papers spanning more than a century that document the Bell and Sloman families, who descended from former slaves in the American south.
 
Julie Crooks, the AGO’s Assistant Curator of Photography, found the collection on Brock’s Digital Repository.
 
“As a photography historian I was thrilled to discover Rick Bell’s archives in the Brock Collection,” she said. “The collection reflects Canadian history, Black-Canadian history and a history of photography. I think both the AGO and ROM exhibitions are deeply enhanced with the inclusion of the rich images from the Brock Collection.”
 
David Sharron, Brock’s Head of Special Collections and Archives, was happy to work with Crooks on the project.
 
“It’s always a thrill to see people using our collections in new and innovative ways,” he said. “When we got this collection in 2010 we knew it was really significant. It shows a little bit of the black community in St. Catharines from about the 1870s all the way up into the 1980s. So it’s a really fantastic view of a family over time.”
 
The AGO exhibit entitled Free Black North, which opens Saturday, April 29 and runs until Aug. 20, shows how historic Black Canadian communities used photography as a tool to explain their complex histories.
 
Crooks is also one of the curators on The Family Camera, an exhibit running at the ROM from May 6 to Oct. 29. It uses family photographs as a way to tell the story of migration — not just with families escaping the American south, but of those moving to new locations around the world.
 
A digitized photograph of Richard and Iris Bell is part of the Family Camera’s online slide show while some of the originals will be on display at the museum.
 
“These were just family photos, but they also show photography as art and as history that wasn’t quite written down,” Sharron said of the Rick Bell Family Collection. “It shows what was important to them and what their families were like.”
 
In addition to the AGO and ROM displays, an additional photo from the collection is being used by the Black Creek Pioneer Village as part of an exhibit on Canada’s 150th anniversary.
 
 
 
For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
 
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970
 
Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high-definition video and broadcast-quality audio.
 
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Library Website Update

12 hours 17 min ago

In the next few days, you’ll notice the Library’s website looks a little different. That’s because we’re switching our web pages over to Brock’s WordPress content management system, part of a gradual rollout for the entire university website.

This change will only affect the Library’s own information pages – tools like SuperSearch, the library catalogue, and other library databases will not be affected. The addresses for some library web pages will change, but any outdated links will automatically redirect to the updated address.

Improvements

  • Responsive Design
    • The new website is responsive, meaning it will automatically adjust to fit whatever device you’re using – desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet
  • Streamlined Navigation
    • Our navigation and site layout have been streamlined to make it easier to find what you’re looking for
  • Accessibility
    • We’ve ensured the website meets with AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) standards so it is useable for everyone.

If you have any questions about the upcoming change, please contact:

John Dingle
Digital Services and Liaison Librarian
jdingle@brocku.ca
 

Industrial agriculture can have negative impact on local communities: Brock research

Wed, 2017-04-26 14:49

26 April 2017 - R00086

Industrial agriculture might seem good on paper, but the trend of reducing biodiversity in the name of profits is harmful to communities.

Liette Vasseur, a Brock University Professor of Biology, says many species of vegetable and fruit plants that have fed communities around the world for generations are being phased out to make room for large commercial crops such as coffee, tea, wheat and canola because of the strong international market demands.

“When heritage crops are lost, we reduce genetic diversity,” she says. “We know that native species that have been there for a long time are often more adaptable to local conditions and may respond better to changing conditions, especially those coming from climate change.”

Vasseur is part of an international team that researches ways of connecting plant biodiversity to agricultural systems in communities in Ecuador and Canada, and examining how this relates to climate change.

The team’s project, “Agro-biodiversity, Nutrition and Sustainable Marketing of Heritage Crops in Ecuador and Canada,” is headed by Brian McLaren, Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources Management at Lakehead University.

Vasseur said the profits gained by replacing heritage crops with commercial crops, or even non-food products such as cotton and tobacco, are often short lived.

In one particular community the Brock researcher was working with, the government encouraged farmers to replace their heritage crops with potatoes to meet high demand.

“All the farmers started growing potatoes,” she says. “The problem is the market got saturated, and when that happened, they can’t get a good price for their potatoes. It has been the same for quinoa.”

Not only does that translate into less income, but it means fewer nutritional food choices for families.  

The research team was recently awarded $660,000 from the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Advanced Scholars Program. As a co-applicant, Vasseur will receive a portion of that fund.

Under the project, Vasseur and several graduate students at Brock will work with researchers, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from Lakehead and Escuela Superior Politecnica de Chimborazo university in Ecuador.

The team will look at how communities in that country, as well as in Ontario, can expand their food production by preserving their heritage crops and growing various species of crops together.

Having a wider selection of crops will increase communities’ access to nutritious food while protecting the environment, says Vasseur.

“The community we’re working with in Ecuador is gradually losing its original biodiversity and has overused agrochemicals,” she explains. “Now they’re having issues with water shortages and decreased water quality because of fertilizers and pesticides.”

The research team’s activities include:
•    Documenting how small-scale agricultural production enables farmers to adapt to climate change and conserve biodiversity
•    Describing opportunities and barriers related to farm-based agro-biodiversity conservation
•    Understanding changes in consumer attitudes, nutrition and well-being associated with new marketing methods and logistics, such as e-commerce, organic co-operatives, and the promotion of traditional food culture

Brock University Professor of Biology Liette Vasseur is available for interviews about her research.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
 
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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Library Speaker Series ... Bright Ideas You can Use

Wed, 2017-04-26 12:13

The Brock Library is set to launch the Library Speaker Series next week with the aim of exploring new directions, roles and initiatives for the academic library. 

Our first talk - a panel discussion on Makerspaces in Higher Education, will be held Wednesday, May 3rd from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Makerspace movement offers libraries new ways to engage with students, forge new campus collaborations, and participate in discussions surrounding new understandings of both teaching and learning. All are invited to learn how these unique spaces in libraries can unleash creativity and innovation to solve real-world problems. Dr. Camille Rutherford, Department of Teacher Education and Dr. Karen Smith, Department of Popular Culture, Communication and Film will share their knowledge and experience in a panel discussion along with Tabitha Lewis from the Library Makerspace team. 

Makerspaces in Higher Education: a Panel Discussion
Wednesday May 3, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Thistle 253 (Library E-Classroom)

All are Welcome!

Wine grapes can be early predictor of climate change impacts

Wed, 2017-04-26 09:45

26 April 2017 - R00085

A Brock University scientist says wine grapes are a “canary in the coal mine” for climate change’s impact on agriculture.

New data from NASA shows Earth has just experienced the second-hottest March in the 137 years records have been kept. As climate change slowly moves the temperature higher, the agriculture sector is keeping a close watch.

Gary Pickering says the vineyards sprawling across Niagara can serve as an early warning system for how increasing warmth is affecting agriculture. Wine grapes are good monitors of climate change impacts because of the “narrow geographic and climatic range required by most wine grape varieties,” Pickering says.

“Within these bands, baseline changes to any one of the key weather factors — such as heat units during the ripening season, absolute temperatures or rainfall patterns — can significantly affect grape and wine quality and sustainability,” says Pickering, a Biological Sciences professor who is also a researcher at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) and member of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock.

Extreme weather events and dramatic temperature swings during the growing season can harm fruit quality, while extreme cold snaps during warmer-than-normal winters threaten the very survival of grapevines. Increased levels of CO2 in the air have the capacity to attract new strains of disease-carrying insects.

By working closely with the research community, innovative Canadian grape growers and wine makers are identifying and working on solutions to these challenges. 

CCOVI researchers are pleased the federal government has allotted $70 million in its 2017 budget for discovery science aimed at tackling climate change challenges. That builds on the $30 million that was earmarked for similar research in 2016.

“I’m very excited by the news,” said Pickering, who has been part of a diverse team of experts that researches early warning systems to combat damaging cold weather events, off-vine grape ripening to overcome variability in growing seasons, new types of wine and production methods, and better clone and rootstock combinations of varieties that will thrive in future conditions.

“Increased frequency of extreme weather events looks to be one of the biggest challenges to the industry and it’s important that this fund be used to help support, maintain and even grow our grape and wine industry.”

CCOVI director Debbie Inglis said the institute’s team of scientists are well-suited to lead and partner on projects that mitigate the effects of climate change on local vineyards and capitalize on new opportunities through innovate grape growing and wine making strategies.

“CCOVI has long established itself as an innovator in the grape and wine industry, including research into climate change adaptiveness,” she said. “Our VineAlert program is a key example of this innovation, saving growers millions of dollars a year from the damaging impact of extreme cold weather events, and helping to ensure a stable grape supply.”

CCOVI’s senior staff viticulturist Jim Willwerth, whose research focuses predominantly on freeze protection and improving grapevine cold hardiness, is one of the primary investigators, along with Inglis and CCOVI Professional Affiliate Kevin Ker, from the Institute’s innovative VineAlert program.

It operates like an early warning system for grape growers, offering real-time temperate information about their grape buds’ ability to survive cold temperatures over the dormant season from October to April. This crucial information helps growers determine when protective actions such as wind machines are needed to prevent cold injury to the grapevines.

The system was lauded by the Council of Ontario University’s Research Matters campaign as one of the top 50 most ‘game-changing’ research partnerships across the province.

CCOVI also had climate change opportunities and challenges at front of mind in its annual lecture series, where fellows such as climatologist Tony Shaw discussed the evolution of Canada’s wine appellations as we undergo significant shifts in climate patterns.

With more than 18,000 acres of planted grapes across the province and an economic impact of more than $4 billion, Willwerth said it makes sense to funnel research dollars into projects that help the grape and wine industry tackle challenges associated with a warming planet.

“Environmental changes are going to impact not only grapevines, but winemaking production — the style, quality and everything that goes into that,” he said. “Understanding short-term weather events’ impact on plants will lead to innovative solutions for the future.”

A video featuring Prof. Gary Pickering commenting about his research is available and free for media use. It can be found on YouTube at youtu.be/6_Ly2ubAMA4

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
 
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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Kudos to University Archivist

Tue, 2017-04-25 15:56

The Library is happy to recognize the significant accomplishment of our Archivist, David Sharron who recently certified as a Digital Archives Specialist (DAS). Training for the certification is administered by the Society of American Archivists and is a particularly rigorous two year program of course work on digital archives. Passing the certification exam with flying colours, David is one of only three archivists in all of Canada to receive this desgination.

Congratulations!

 

 

 

 


Smoking during pregnancy increases risk of childhood obesity: Brock-led research

Tue, 2017-04-25 15:09

MEDIA RELEASE: 25 April 2017 - R00084

Underweight or premature babies are not the only results of smoking during pregnancy.

Fetuses exposed to nicotine from cigarette smoke are at higher risk of becoming obese after they’re born, reports a new paper by a Brock University researcher in collaboration with a research team at the State University of New York.

“Those babies are growing faster and bigger,” says lead researcher Danielle Molnar, Assistant Professor in Brock’s Department of Child and Youth Studies.

In partnership with Rina Eiden and colleagues at the Research Institute on Addictions at the State University of New York at Buffalo, Molnar followed two groups of pregnant women — one consisting of smokers and one consisting of non-smokers — who were recruited at their first prenatal visit from a large city hospital.

Of the group of smokers, the researchers monitored how much they smoked during each trimester of their pregnancies and then after the babies were born, their first stool — called meconium — was analyzed for nicotine and nicotine metabolites.

Meconium is made up solely of materials contained in the womb, giving investigators the most accurate picture of the level of the fetus’ exposure to tobacco and other substances, especially later in the pregnancy.

“Knowing how much actually gets through to the fetus is critical because, depending on the placental make-up and some other factors, two women could smoke the same amount and yet the fetus could get different levels,” says Molnar.

The team continues to monitor the mothers and their babies, where the children now range from being in kindergarten to Grade 3.

The researchers noticed that by the age of two, the children of smokers were already showing a proportionately higher body mass.

“The growth was accelerated beyond what would be expected, so they’re growing faster and bigger,” says Molnar. “Their weight exceeded what it should have been at the length of their bodies.”

Molnar explains that when these children were fetuses, they were deprived of oxygen and nutrients. Scientists call this the ‘thrifty phenotype hypothesis.’

“What we think is happening is, during development, the fetus gets wired to receive lower levels of nutrients from the environment in an effort to become more efficient at maintaining a certain nutrition level.

“When the baby is born, there is often no restriction of nutrients. The baby’s body, expecting this restriction, is now going into rapid efficiency mode, trying to salvage and hold onto every little bit of nutrients it can,” Molnar says.

The concept is similar to what happens when dieters reduce their food intake or have inconsistent meal times. The human body resorts to an evolutionary process of storing fat and burning it more slowly to ensure that the body has enough energy for survival.

Molnar says her team’s research, which was funded by the U.S.-based National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institutes of Health, underscores the importance of encouraging women to quit smoking while pregnant.

“We’re in the middle of an obesity crisis. Being able to find a contributor to this obesity risk, especially so early and when it’s completely preventable, is critical.”

The team’s paper, “Tobacco Exposure and Conditional Weight-for-Length Gain by 2 years of age,” was published in the February issue of Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

Danielle Molnar, Assistant Professor in Brock’s Department of Child and Youth Studies, is available for interviews related to her research.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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Media invited to landmark course on the cider business

Mon, 2017-04-24 11:00

MEDIA RELEASE: 21 April 2017 - R00083
 
Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) is inviting the media to witness a new and popular course being offered April 24-28 on cider and perry production.
 
The Cider and Perry Production - A Foundation, will be Canada’s only internationally accredited program where industry professionals and enthusiasts can develop their skills at fermenting apples and pears into cider.
 
The Canadian cider industry is booming, and this course — the first of its kind in Canada — sold out within weeks of being announced in February. Registrants are coming from across Ontario as well as British Columbia, New Brunswick and Quebec. There is already a wait list already for a next offering.
 
Cider is increasingly part of the Canadian lifestyle:
•      As Canada’s population ages, older adults, especially women, are consuming less beer and moving to cider and other fruity beverages (source: Mintel, a UK-based market research firm)
•      In Ontario alone, net sales of local craft cider skyrocketed 54 per cent in 2015-16 to $5.1 million (source: Liquor Control Board of Ontario)
 
The Brock program was developed by Peter Mitchell, founder of the Cider and Perry Academy in the UK, and is the basis for The Cider Institute of North America’s program out of Cornell University and Washington State University. The course covers all aspects of production, from the orchard through to quality control and the economics of cider making. The hands-on program uses lectures, lab work, workshops and tastings to give learners a step-by-step guide to production.
 
Journalists can see what the buzz is all about. Sessions open to the media are:
•      Tuesday, April 24, 1-3:45 p.m., Inniskillin Hall Room 306
•      Wednesday, April 25: 1-3:30 p.m., Inniskillin Hall Room 306
 
For more information or for media access to this program, contact:
 
• Maryanne Firth, Writer/Editor, Brock University maryanne.firth@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 289-241-8288
 
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Brock Sports launches flag football league for Niagara youth

Mon, 2017-04-24 10:58

MEDIA RELEASE : 20 April 2017 - R00082
 
A new Brock University football league will help teach Niagara youths the X’s and O’s of the game, without the big hits.
 
The Brock Sports Youth Flag Football League will run Mondays and Wednesday from May 29 to Aug. 9 on the University’s artificial turf Alumni Field.
 
The league is part of the CFL Flag initiative, and is designed to be a fun environment for boys and girls between six and 15 years old who have either never played the game before or would like to keep playing under flag football rules.
 
“Brock has decided to run a youth flag football league because there are no other leagues in the region,” said Megan Locker, Intramural and PALS Co-ordinator, Brock Sports. “It is also another way to introduce kids to Brock University and all it has to offer.”
 
“We’re thrilled to partner with the CFL because their mandate matches our plan to extend our reach into the community and develop youth leagues,” said Brock Sports Director Neil Lumsden. “We have a great platform to build sport in the Niagara region and with the CFL at our side, flag football is a tremendous place to start.”
 
The league will include one practice and one game each week between 6 and 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesday (no league on July 3 or Aug. 7).
 
The cost is $125 per child and parking during league times is included in the price.
 
Volunteer coaches and assistant coaches are also needed for the league. Coaches will be provided with training, as well as the equipment they need to run the practices and games.
 
For more information on volunteering or registering a child in the league, contact Megan Locker at mlocker@brocku.ca

 
For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
 
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970
 
Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.
 
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International Ambassador Award Program

Thu, 2017-04-20 13:57

International Ambassador Program
Eligible full-time International students can apply for a tuition break through Brock's new International Ambassador Program

German student creates Spanish conversation club

Wed, 2017-04-19 17:18

 Read the full story in the Brock News

Earth Sciences student using GIS technology to study endangered Ontario rattlesnake

Wed, 2017-04-19 15:52

Story from The Brock News

Luke Gray was five years old when he stepped on a snake.

It squished and squirmed beneath his bare toes, sending waves of fear up his spine. From that moment, Gray developed a healthy trepidation of all things serpent.

Decades later, the third-year Earth Sciences student at Brock University chuckles at the irony of what he’s doing now.

“I’m researching the Massasauga rattlesnake in the Wainfleet Bog,” he says with a smile.

Gray was awarded the Esri Canada GIS Scholarship for 2017. The program supports university students across the country to continue their studies in geographic information systems (GIS) and consider it as a post-graduation career option.

The Massasauga rattlesnake, native to southern Ontario, is listed as a threatened species under the federal Species at Risk Act because of factors such as urban development, cottage construction, wetland drainage and people killing the snake out of fear.

But it’s not just human activity that poses grave danger.

“This study explores an additional threat that has been severely overlooked. Hibernation is equally, if not more, endangering to the Massasauga rattlesnake population,” he says.

Gray explains there’s not much room in the snake’s ‘life zone,’ or the area underground where it is able to survive during hibernation.

“If the frost depth is too low, they will freeze; if the groundwater is too high, they will drown,” he says.

To determine where the Massasauga snake is most likely to survive during the winter, Gray used ArcGIS software to create a series of two- and three-dimensional interpolated maps that represent the life zone throughout the Wainfleet Bog.

Interpolated mapping involves taking measurements of a variety of parameters in multiple locations to estimate conditions in the area between each point. It works on the theory that things that are close together likely share comparable traits.

Gray conducted several months of field work, measuring groundwater levels, frost depth, snow depth, groundwater temperature and dissolved oxygen in 34 locations within the Wainfleet Bog in early 2016.

He hopes the data will help enable conservationists to determine the locations within Wainfleet Bog that would give the Massasauga rattlesnake the best chance of survival during their winter hibernation.

He also recommends similar data be compared over the years to predict how the landscape might change over time and “where reintroduction of Massasauga rattlesnakes would be most favourable in terms of hibernation.

“I want to help maintain their population,” says Gray.

But that was a challenge in the beginning. When Gray first started working with Ministry of Natural Resources biologists and researchers in the Wainfleet Bog, the sight of snakes basking in the sunlight nearly sent him running.

“I knew working with the Ministry of Natural Resources was important to me and something that I really wanted to be a part of,” recalls Gray. “It wasn’t an option for me to not handle the snakes.

It was his passion for the underdog that forced Gray to confront, and conquer, his childhood bogyman.

“I’ve always been passionate for endangered species,” he says. “When I had the opportunity to work with endangered species, specifically, the Massasauga rattlesnake, even though it was one of my biggest fears, I could still appreciate their value in the ecosystem.”

The small, thick-bodied snake is the province’s only remaining venomous reptile, but poses little threat, as it is shy and avoids human contact, reports Wildlife Preservation Canada. The snake’s habitat includes wetlands, shoreline habitats and peat land and are generally found within 50 kilometres of the Great Lakes. In the winter, they hibernate in crevices or hollows below ground.

Gray credits Geography and Tourism Studies associate professors Marilyne Jollineau and Kevin Turner for inspiring him to pursue GIS and geography studies.

From The Brock News

Earth Day: Brock experts emphasize the importance of getting outside

Wed, 2017-04-19 13:26

EXPERT ADVISORY: 19 April 2017 - R00081

From school playgrounds to parks to hockey in the streets, there are plenty of ways for kids to get outside, but the pull of technology often keeps them indoors.

Earth Day 2017 will be held Saturday, April 22, and the focus in Canada this year is EarthPLAY, a program designed to bring outdoor, unstructured play back into children’s lives.

Earth Day Canada says around 70 per cent of all Canadian children spend less than an hour a day outside, and their EarthPLAY initiative is both a fundraiser to build more outdoor adventure playgrounds, and an awareness campaign to get more young people outside.

Brock University has two experts available to comment on Earth Day 2017 and the idea of getting more children playing outside.

Debra Harwood is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education who leads a research team examining the experiences of children and educators in an outdoor learning and teaching environment.

Launched last year, the Forest School, run through the Rosalind Blauer Centre for Child Care, is a program for junior kindergarten-aged children that immerses them in nature. They learn the basics of phonics, math, science and art while taking trips through the forests around Brock, and by learning in an outdoor classroom on campus.

Harwood says it’s “fundamentally important” for kids to be spending time in nature.

“In Niagara we have an ideal context for kids to be outside. It’s absolutely beautiful here and we have an abundance of nature,” she says. “The outdoors provokes their interest. It sets the foundations for formalized learning later in life.”

Harwood says the Forest School program is one small step to counter-balance the pressure society puts on children that leads to them spending so much time inside.

“I think we’ve organized children’s lives a bit too much and that’s kind of the idea of making the outdoors a bit more available,” she says. “If we look at children at this young age, they’re in formal learning settings for six or eight hours a day and that’s a long time to be closed off from nature.”

Ryan Plummer is a professor at Brock and Director of the University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC).

“Going outside and cultivating a personal connection with the environment is an enriching opportunity, and offers a chance to enhance environmental consciousness,” says Plummer.

“We need to be mindful of our relationship with the environment every day; and Earth Day serves as a powerful and widespread reminder of this crucial connection.”

Based at Brock University, the ESRC pursues innovative and transdisciplinary research concerning the environment, sustainability and social-ecological resilience.

Harwood and Plummer are both available for interviews leading up to Earth Day 2017.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
 
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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Keeping the faith: ‘Evangelists’ are good for the wine industry

Wed, 2017-04-19 11:57

MEDIA RELEASE: 17 April 2017  - R00080

With sales of local wines steadily rising, and domestic vintages crowding the lists at more and more fine restaurants, Ontario is getting a legitimate rep as a world-class wine destination. But this rising pedigree may be due to more than just quality and value.

Research out of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) strongly supports the notion that passionate “evangelists” play an important role in raising awareness and popularity of Ontario wines — which now control 31 per cent of the LCBO’s wine market share.

Expanding on their 2016 paper, “Evangelism and the amazing spread of quality reputation of Ontario winemaking,” professors Maxim Voronov and Wesley Helms, from Brock’s Goodman School of Business, helped lead a study examining years of institutional change in Ontario’s wine industry, the steady improvement to the reputation of domestic wines and the development of a critical mass of support for the industry.

“Domestically, we’ve seen a lot more acceptance and enthusiasm for Ontario wine and internationally, there’s been a great deal more recognition of Ontario wines’ high quality,” said Voronov, who is a fellow of CCOVI.

“If you measured the acceptance of Ontario wines by the number of restaurants that have VQA wine lists, the number has jumped dramatically since 11 years ago when I first came (to Canada from the United States).”

Their article, “Emotions Uncorked: Inspiring Evangelism for the Emerging Practice of Cool-Climate Winemaking in Ontario,” is published in the April edition of the Academy of Management Journal, and was co-written by Felipe G. Massa, from Loyola University in New Orleans, and Liang Wang, of the University of San Francisco.

One focus of their research was the ritualistic behaviours that drive people to voluntarily spread the gospel, if you will, about local wines and wineries.

“The key seems to be the creation of people who aren’t simply content to buy a bottle of wine and leave it at that,” Voronov explained. “They are not simply buyers or supporters, they really have this almost religious fervour that is going to drive them to advocate on behalf of Ontario wine, and they use whatever opportunity they can to convert their friends and family members.”

Preachers in the consumer space are not a new construct. In relentlessly progressive Silicon Valley, tech companies like Apple create actual “evangelist” roles within their organizations, people whose job is to be visible and vocal in imploring the appeal of a product or brand.

What is less understood, Voronov argues, is how people develop into these passionate ambassadors in the first place – something they explored in-depth in their study.

In the wine industry, he says this occurs through three specific rituals: 
•    Provenance-themed: Sharing the story of the wine; where it came from, who made it?
•    Hedonic-themed: The enjoyment and pleasure of wine consumption and the social interaction associated with consuming it.
•    Glory-themed: Emphasizing the praise, distinctions and honours that the wine or winery has garnered.

People most likely to be driven by these rituals are those who connect with them emotionally, such as foodies or locavores.

While the idea of cultivating evangelists is applicable to the marketing of products, Voronov stresses that there’s more to the picture.

“These rituals are about building authentic relationships with audiences, not just consumers. What we want to think here is not just about how to get this person to buy one or two bottles of wine — we want them to become part of the movement, and advocate on behalf of the winery and the industry.”

He also pointed out that these findings aren’t restricted to the wine industry, either, and that the creation of these “evangelists” can be beneficial to many different organizations.

The full study can be found at brocku.ca/webfm_send/43905

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
 
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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Brock expert available to comment on cannabis legislation

Thu, 2017-04-13 15:45

13 April 2017 - R00079

A Brock University professor says legislation to legalize recreational marijuana is a step in the right direction.

Department of Health Sciences associate professor Dan Malleck is an expert on Canadian drug and alcohol policy and history.

He says the introduction of a bill to legalize cannabis is very similar to the end of Prohibition in the 1920s.

“They’re legalizing a contentious substance that is the subject of a lot of fear and paranoia. It’s exactly what happened with Prohibition,” says Malleck.

He says the government has elected to focus on the health issue when it comes to regulating the substance.

“The legalization push was framed not just as a ‘let’s make this legal’ but what kinds of problems do we see and how do we control it,” he says, pointing out the tight controls over age restrictions and how the product can be packaged and sold.

Malleck believes legalizing marijuana is “absolutely a good thing.”

“It’s making legal something that was generally just used for personal enjoyment and has relatively few physical harms associated with it. Socially, culturally, economically and legally, I think it’s a good thing.”
 
Associate Professor Dan Malleck is available for interviews on the subject and can be reached at dan.malleck@brocku.ca

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
 
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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Brock escape rooms at Niagara Military Museum ready for testing

Thu, 2017-04-13 15:37

MEDIA RELEASE: 13 April 2017 - R00078

Two new escape rooms carefully crafted by Brock University students are undergoing final testing while readying for their public debut.

Brock’s Dramatic Arts and Interactive Arts and Science students have been working since January to create the physical adventure games through a partnership with the Niagara Military Museum in Niagara Falls.

The interactive experience sees players locked in a series of rooms and challenged to solve puzzles in exchange for their freedom as they race against the clock.

A group of about 30 students worked at the Victoria Avenue museum throughout the winter term to develop each aspect of the rooms, from the costumes to the puzzles to the props and sets.

The building, which dates back to 1911 and was once used as an armoury, inspired the historical First World War and Cold War escape room themes.

The rooms are unique in that they include live actors who guide players through the narrative.

“That’s how students hope to differentiate their rooms within Niagara’s escape room market,” said Dramatic Arts Associate Professor Natalie Alvarez, who was the driving force behind the experiential education project.
“I’m really hoping this will be a niche for students.”

Students are now working to test the rooms and will be evaluated on their work during an upcoming live testing event.
Media are invited to attend testing of the two rooms on Tuesday, April 18 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Niagara Military Museum, 5049 Victoria Ave. in Niagara Falls.

Also in attendance to evaluate the rooms will be representatives from Casa Loma’s escape room team, Canadian author and historian Christian Cameron, curator Kathleen Powell and archivist Alicia Floyd of the St. Catharines Museum, and Brock University faculty.

The escape rooms are set to open to the public at the end of May at a cost of roughly $25 per person.

Proceeds will assist in the maintenance and continued operation of the museum.

“It’s meant to leave a lasting mark on Niagara tourism, helping to make the museum more sustainable,” Alvarez said, while expressing gratitude to museum operators Jim and Kathy Doherty for their ongoing support.

“It’s been really rewarding to see the students form what I hope will be a lasting relationship with the museum,” she said.

Students will have the opportunity to remain at the helm of the escape rooms going forward, first on a voluntary basis and then potentially in paid positions if the rooms become financially viable.

The museum’s partnership with Brock was made possible through a cultural development grant provided by the City of Niagara Falls, as well as a service-learning grant provided by the University.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
 
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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Easter Weekend Library Hours

Thu, 2017-04-13 14:35

The James A. Gibson and Map, Data & GIS Libraries will be closed Friday, April 14th in observance of the Good Friday holiday.  View hours for Saturday and Sunday.

More of the world’s grape and wine insiders are coming to Niagara

Thu, 2017-04-13 09:42

MEDIA RELEASE: 12 April 2017 - R00077

Charles Bénard is close to the wine industry, but far from home. His parents manage the Champagne Bénard-Pitois vineyard and winery in France, and Bénard himself is a second-year student at AgroSup Dijon, the French national institute for food and agronomic sciences.

But for his internship he chose to come to Canada, specifically to Brock University’s grape and wine research centre, the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).

Bénard feels a CCOVI internship will further his knowledge about the sector, and says being exposed to research at Brock will advance his career goal of working in the grape and wine industry.

“Brock and CCOVI works a lot on wines, and since I am from Champagne, I didn’t see a lot of different methods [at home],” he said. “I saw that Canada makes a lot of wines with different grapes, so I said it would be great to observe this in another country with different methods than in Champagne.”

The young French national is a sign of the times.

Google the name Denis Bunner, and the Deputy Cellar Manager from France’s renowned Bollinger Champagne pops up in blogs, articles and conference notes from South Africa to Britain to Finland.

You can now add Canada to that list. Bunner visited the Brock campus this month for the Shaping Bubbles seminar, where 50 Canadian winemakers gathered to hear European industry leaders talk shop about Champagne, Prosecco and other production methods of sparkling wine.

The seminar was part of a year-round calendar of industry events held by CCOVI that attract global speakers and students who, in turn, grow its reputation as a hub for grape and wine education and research.

CCOVI draws experts from places like Australia, Germany and France to host workshops, contribute to discussions or participate in seminars. Even the annual CCOVI Lecture Series has a global audience, with more than 1,100 viewers from 43 different countries logging on in recent years to stream the lectures online. Similarly, events like CCOVI’s 2014 Ontario Sparkling Wine Symposium drew international speakers and 120 attendees.

Last summer, CCOVI’s rising profile also helped Canada’s first-ever successful bid to host the International Cool Climate Wine Symposium. The event, which will be held at Brock in 2020, take place every four years and attracts hundreds of grape and wine researchers, trade professionals and media from wine regions around the world.
At the Shaping Bubbles seminar, Bunner — who split keynote duties with Italian winemaker and industry consultant Marcello Galetti — welcomed the opportunity to share his decades-old practices with a Canadian audience, but says he also learned a few things from the industry here in Ontario.

“I have a culture of sharing knowledge and craftsmanship,” said Bunner, “and I think it’s interesting to show people another way of doing things.

“(But) it was also very interesting to see how you prevent frost in your country and the different products you can have. You are in a good climate position to produce sparkling wines, you have this freshness and fineness — which are important for sparkling wines.”

Sparkling wine is hugely popular with consumers, and the Shaping Bubbles seminar examined how Canadian products are pushing their way into the spotlight. While famous names like Champagne and Prosecco still command a large share of retail shelf space, domestic brands are rivaling the Europeans. In Ontario, overall sales of Ontario VQA sparkling wines are up 13 per cent over last year, and Vintage VQA sparkling wine sales have increased by a remarkable 25 per cent.

In this era of new market opportunities, Thierry Lemaire, who owns the Canadian company Nuance Winery Supplies, who sponsored the Shaping Bubbles seminar to hear a presentation prepared by CCOVI senior oenologist Belinda Kemp, analysing the rise of Ontario sparkling wines.

Lemaire said CCOVI has a “major place in the wine industry in Ontario and in Canada,” which made Brock an ideal venue for hosting international speakers of this calibre.

“CCOVI is the natural place where people come with questions,” he said. “They are centered in the industry, and a lot is happening here. People recognize that, and they want to be a part of that.”

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
 
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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Professor Felipe Ruan delivered an invited lecture at Vanderbilt University.

Mon, 2017-04-10 17:15

    Professor Felipe Ruan delivered an invited lecture at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Vanderbilt University. Delivered on April 7, 2017, the lecture was entitled “The Reluctant Historian: Cosmographer-Chronicler Juan López de Velasco and the Historiography of the Indies,” and is based on a research article published recently in The Americas 74.1 (2017).

Television, hockey and politics among topics to be discussed at Brock cross-border symposium

Mon, 2017-04-10 15:24

MEDIA RELEASE: 10 April 2017 - R00076

With President Donald Trump now in power south of the border, politics may appear to be the biggest cross-border issue on people’s minds.

But a group of students from the MA program in Canadian-American Studies offered jointly by Brock University and the University at Buffalo are hosting a symposium Wednesday that will examine everything from politics to sports, to entertainment, tourism and even disability issues.

Five students from the program will present their major research papers at the Canadian-American Studies Symposium being held in Brock’s ST102 Wednesday, April 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Graduate Program Director Marian Bredin said students throughout the four-year history of the Canadian-American Studies program have proven just how wide-ranging cross-border research can be.

“This is an interdisciplinary program and each cohort of students brings unique experience and background that adds to our knowledge of this hugely complex and historical relationship,” she said.

Bredin said living close to the border sometimes makes it more difficult to see how different the two countries are.

“We go back and forth so often so we’re not aware of how significant these cultural and social differences are,” she said.

For his major research paper, Ibrahim Berrada chose to examine the media industry and how successful Canadian content regulations and the Canada Media Fund grants have been at keeping American pop culture from dominating the airwaves.

“I think the biggest problem is that it’s cheaper for a (broadcast) company to buy an American product than it is to produce a product in Canada,” Berrada said. “The Canadian Media Fund is working in some aspects … but there are some problems that need to be rectified in order to fix access to the Canadian digital content for youths.”

As an example, Berrada points to the requirement that Canadian content producers use a portion of their funding through the CMF on interactive digital components such as online games, eBooks or web series.

“It’s a waste of money. They could put that into promotion, marketing and figuring out how to expand access to the content and to making sure Canadians know there is good Canadian content out there,” he said.

Also giving presentations at the Canadian-American Studies Symposium are:
•    Keynote speaker Political Science Professor Blayne Haggart: Canada-U.S. Relations in the Trudeau-Trump Era
•    Brock MA student Craig Hilimoniuk: Communicating Brand Politics in Canada
•    Brock MA student Patrick Morris: Hockey Nationalism in Canada
•    University at Buffalo student Paul Coleman: Disability in Canada and the United States
•    Brock MA student Oleksandr Chernomorchenko: Business and Tourism in the Niagara region

Wednesday’s Canadian-American Studies Symposium is open to everyone, but those attending are asked to RSVP to Bredin at mbredin@brocku.ca

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
 
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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