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Updated: 8 min 26 sec ago

Brock University launches leading-edge augmented reality marketing course

Thu, 2020-07-09 10:47

MEDIA RELEASE: 9 July 2020 – R0111

Brock University has created an innovative course in augmented reality (AR) marketing that responds to industry and consumer demand.

The new undergraduate course introduced in May by the Goodman School of Business focuses on the strategic marketing opportunities of AR and creating AR experiences that maximize customer engagement.

Professor of Marketing Joachim Scholz, who has been researching and teaching AR for the past six years, recently left a role at California Polytechnic State University to create and lead the course at Brock.

He said while courses offered by other universities and colleges offer training on the technology side of AR or teach generally about digital marketing with AR included as one component, “to our knowledge, Goodman is the first business school in the world to offer a course solely focused on AR marketing.”

“Students will become marketing experts who are familiar with the types of AR experiences that resonate with customers, and they will gain first-hand experience in how to design an AR marketing initiative,” Scholz said. “In that respect, Brock University is an innovative first-mover.”

AR is often confused with virtual reality (VR), and although there are similarities between the two, Scholz said AR has more practical uses and benefits for businesses and consumers.

“AR augments the user’s physical environment with a digital component,” he said. “You might use your phone to see what a sofa looks like in your living room, or how a garment fits your body, but everything else you see is in real life. In VR, everything is a virtual environment and all you see is the digital surroundings. VR is used more in gaming and entertainment.”

The new AR marketing course is made up of four main components:

  • Lectures led by Scholz that explain key concepts of AR, the strategic potential of AR for marketing, AR experience design, and how AR is applied in experiential marketing, retailing, and advertising
  • Guest speakers who connect concepts to industry practices
  • Student-created presentations and articles that examine and reflect on current AR experiences
  • A client project, which Scholz said is the core of the course

“The course has a huge experiential education component to it,” he said. “Workshops and pitch presentations to industry partners take up most of the second half. Students take the AR knowledge they learn from lectures, guest speakers and research and apply it to a real-world client.”

This spring, students created AR strategies for a premium winemaking kit brand owned by RJS Craft Winemaking.

“Partnering with Brock’s AR marketing course is a wonderful opportunity for our brand to engage with consumers in an innovative and relevant way,” said Catherine Field, an associate brand manager for Arterra Wines Canada, Inc., the leading producer and marketer of wines in Canada and parent company of RJS Craft Winemaking.

Throughout the course, students consult with several industry partners, including the client who keeps students focused on meeting business objectives; marketing agencies who offer students advice on how to create big ideas and manage the creative process; a pitch consultant who helps them hone their presentation and persuasion skills; and a development partner who will create and implement some of the students’ ideas once the course is complete.

Student teams recently presented their final recommendations via a written report and marketing pitch to Scholz and the industry partners. The client will choose the strategies they want to pursue and will work with the development partner to implement them.

Scholz collaborated with Etobicoke AR/VR firm UP360, which will work on technical aspects of the students’ chosen strategies with a goal of going live this fall.

UP360 President and CEO Harrison Olajos said he’s excited to offer his services for free to Brock, which provided him with free space, mentorship and coaching to launch his company through the University’s business incubator.

Being one of the new AR course’s first partners also allows UP360 to expand into the AR marketing side of its business at a time when an increasing number of consumers are relying on digital experiences to inform purchasing decisions

“AR is a new and accessible way to engage with clients,” Olajos said. “Video marketing is a bit overdone; people lose interest in a matter of seconds. AR is new form of media that can captivate attention and boost engagement because it’s usually interactive. It leaves a positive brand impression and experience.”

The University’s first offering of the AR marketing course took place exclusively online this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moving forward, Scholz plans to incorporate Brock’s new augmented reality, virtual reality and sensory reality consumer laboratory into his syllabus. Known as the R3CL, the facility is the first of its kind and contains technologies such as the Microsoft HoloLens that can be used to create a variety of AR environments.

“Beginning with the R3CL and now this new unique AR marketing course, Brock University and the Goodman School of Business is on a trajectory to become a centre of excellence in the area of AR marketing,” said Andrew Gaudes, Dean of the Goodman School of Business.

“Goodman students will be among the first to have a solid foundation on how to use AR in marketing strategy.”


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, or 905-347-1970

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Brock’s first online cider course sells out as thirst for virtual learning grows

Thu, 2020-07-09 10:45

MEDIA RELEASE: 6 July 2020 – R0110

As teaching and learning transforms in response to COVID-19, Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) has transitioned its popular Cider and Perry Production Foundation course to an online format.

This first-ever online offering was developed alongside CCOVI’s North American academic partners and sold out almost immediately.

“We’re thrilled to offer the foundation course in an innovative new format,” says Barb Tatarnic, CCOVI’s Manager of Continuing Education. “The uptake was incredible and affirms that we’ve provided the quality cider education experience students are looking for, even if we can’t provide it in person right now.”

CCOVI worked together with the Cider Institute of North America (CINA) and other program providers to develop the online course. Although it was born out of necessity to adapt to world events, Tatarnic says it offers new opportunities, too.

Since the online format is now offered over a 15-week period rather than a week-long intensive session, for example, it opens the course up to those with less flexibility in their schedules.

Brighid O’Keane, Executive Director of CINA, says another benefit to going virtual is that they were able to bring more industry experts on board.

“The Cider Institute represents the range of cider culture, production styles and techniques, apple regions, and business models across North America,” she says. “We are excited by the first-ever opportunity to connect students directly with leaders in the cider industry and experts in fermentation research through this online course.”

For the first time, all of CINA’s expert fermentation researchers (from Brock, Cornell University, Washington State University and Virginia Tech University) will be teaching a portion of the course.

Steven Trussler, Brock’s certified instructor for the course, said the co-teaching element is an exciting approach.

“With each of the instructors coming from different professional backgrounds and areas of expertise, the students learn the material from a variety of perspectives in a very multifaceted way,” he says. “The depth of time you can spend with the material in a 15-week-format also provides a very different experience even though the course has the same content and learning objectives.”

Guest speakers are also featured in the online course almost every week, including the internationally recognized Peter Mitchell, who developed the foundation course.

Brock graduate Emily Gillard (BSc ’15) is also one of the featured industry speakers. She is the assistant cidermaker at Brickworks Ciderhouse in Toronto and was recently awarded the Cider Institute’s Peter Mitchell Award for Educational Excellence in Cider Production.

The most challenging part of transitioning the course was finding a way to emulate the hands-on lab work, cider making and tastings to an online format.

Trussler said they relied on a hybrid approach, pairing live, virtual lectures and online forums with pre-recorded video content and assignments that use those video demonstrations. Students also receive kits containing cider samples for the sensory analysis and tasting components of the course, as well as fermentation supplies to make and test ciders at home.

“You have to adapt the way you are delivering this course and there is real work to make sure the value and the learning is still there,” says Trussler. “It’s not a question of what you can’t do online ­— it’s a question of what new things you can do online, and that presented a really exciting opportunity for this course.”

Students will also have access to virtual behind-the-scenes tours of the top cider apple orchards and commercial production spaces across North America, and networking opportunities to foster teamwork and interaction.

The current offering is sold out, but anyone interesting in taking the course is encouraged to enrol in the next session that runs from Aug. 31 to Dec. 18, with a live virtual session every week. Registration can be done online via Eventbrite and more information can be found on CCOVI’s website.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970 

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Brock team analyzes park and trail access challenges during COVID-19

Thu, 2020-07-09 10:44

MEDIA RELEASE: 30 June 2020 – R0109

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in outdoor activities.

Demand for outdoor recreation such as hiking, cycling and other nature-based activities has increased dramatically as individuals have found themselves living with an altered work and leisure schedule.

Just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) launched the Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative with the Niagara Parks Commission and the Ontario Trails Council. While the partnership began with specific goals, COVID-19 has altered not only life for virtually all Canadians throughout these past few months, but also this important partnership work.

The Trail Assets and Tourism research team has turned its attention to examining best practices for communicating parks and trail use policies to the public.

“The work of the partnership is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic as trails are the lifeblood of park systems and serve as connectors between people, nature and health,” says Garrett Hutson, Brock University Associate Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies and Chair of the Trail Assets and Tourism partnership. “As some park agencies continue to report record numbers of visitors, concisely clarifying and communicating best practices to protect people and the environment are necessary during this unprecedented time.”

As a result of the increased demand, operators of parks and protected areas have been under pressure to re-open their properties. In order to do so, park agencies have a list of tasks that must be completed before visitors can be safely accommodated such as recalling seasonal employees and developing and implementing COVID-19 safety protocols in order to protect staff.

The agencies must then complete all necessary pre-season maintenance work that had not been possible during the previous shutdown stages. Finally, before an agency is ready to welcome visitors, COVID-19 related safety protocols for visitors must be developed and implemented.

Once this is done, agencies face one of the most difficult tasks yet — effectively educating the public of the new policies and guidelines for visiting each specific location. Given the current COVID-19 climate, with many provinces loosening restrictions and enabling increased access to tourism and outdoor recreation, this communication has become incredibly important.

With hundreds of independent park agencies in Canada, visitors have found themselves required to learn the policies of each agency they might consider visiting. For example, a visitor in Ontario may find themselves visiting a Niagara Parks location, an Ontario Parks location and a Parks Canada location — all with their own COVID-19 policies.

“There has been extensive confusion for trail users throughout Ontario as to what trails and parks are open and what safety protocols are in place,” said Wayne Terryberry, President of Ontario Trails Council. “This research project provides extremely valuable information, which will assist trail management agencies communicate and plan in a concerted and co-ordinated manner.”

While it is important for individuals to plan and prepare for their visits to parks and trails, it is the responsibility of each park agency to facilitate that preparation by providing accurate, concise and readily available information regarding the changes in policies and procedures at their locations.

The Trails Assets and Tourism Initiative team examined more than 40 park and trail agency social media and website communications regarding COVID-19. It found that park agencies with an active social media presence and more information on their websites earn better approval and more appreciation from the public.

Given the evolving and changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, park agencies should consider utilizing reciprocal linking with other agencies to a greater degree, to demonstrate a coordinated approach to health and safety recommendations and communications, says Hutson.

With the help of the Niagara Parks Commission, the Ontario Trails Council, and through reviewing other agency COVID-19 communications, the Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative team has put together a list of best practices, which can be found in the infographic attached to this release.

“As restrictions continue to be lifted, our actions collectively, while congregating to some degree in natural and other areas, will determine the trajectory of the spread of COVID-19, which will likewise determine whether natural assets such as parks and trails will remain open for use,” Hutson says.

More information can be found on the websites of the Niagara Parks Commission, Leave No Trace and Ontario Trails.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Niagara Community Observatory explores challenges, opportunities in local transportation and logistics

Thu, 2020-07-09 10:42

MEDIA RELEASE: 30 June 2020 – R0108

Government and private sector groups should collaborate on imaginative ways to help commercial vehicles by-pass the increasingly congested QEW between Niagara and Toronto, suggests new research from Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO).

One possibility suggested creating a ferry service for trucks that would “get them off the road and onto the water,” enabling them to reach Oshawa without going through the Golden Horseshoe, says the NCO’s latest policy brief.

This is one of several recommendations made in “Niagara’s Transportation and Logistics Sector: Becoming a Global Economic Lynchpin,” to be released next week.

NCO Director and brief author Charles Conteh will be presenting the policy brief followed by a panel discussion at a virtual event on Tuesday, July 7 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. via Microsoft Teams. Those interested in attending should register by emailing by noon on Monday, July 6. Registrants will receive a link before the event.

The brief provides a bird’s eye view of Niagara’s transportation and logistics industry with the aim of “leveraging its assets” to not only successfully overcome the challenges of a rapidly-changing Niagara economy, but hook into new and emerging opportunities, says Conteh, Associate Professor in Brock’s Department of Political Science.

“The sector plays a foundational role as an all-purpose platform sector in the region’s economic competitiveness,” he says. “It is the one sector that Niagara wants to invest in from the standpoint of job creation and job security.”

Conteh calls the sector a “workhorse” that facilitates the movement of goods and people by road, rail and water, connecting Niagara with the U.S. and the rest of the world and providing a stable workplace consisting of a range of white collar, blue collar and “no collar” jobs.

The transportation and logistics sector is doing well, with Niagara’s top three employers in the sector being in the areas of general freight trucking, freight transportation arrangement and specialized freight trucking, with a total of 3,012 jobs in 2019. Additionally, from 2011 to 2019, the number of jobs in scenic and sightseeing land transportation grew 1,286 per cent.

Compared to the regions of Windsor, Hamilton, Toronto and London, Niagara has a near-monopoly in the areas of deep sea, coastal and Great Lakes water transportation and scenic and sightseeing water and land transportation, says the brief.

The brief also points out the sector’s challenges, including a frequently bottlenecked QEW, the growth of automated driving capacities, drone technologies and robotic systems, and a labour pool shortage due to young workers leaving the area and pursuing opportunities in more knowledge-intensive and service-based fields.

In addition to offering a ferry service for trucks wishing to avoid Toronto-Niagara traffic congestion, the brief puts forth several other recommendations to help the transportation and logistics sector survive and thrive, including:

  • With the rising demand for ecommerce, increase investment in the process automation of Niagara’s warehousing industry, which has a competitive advantage over Toronto and Buffalo largely due to land availability.
  • Explore alternative road routes such as a mid-peninsula corridor and options for commuters such as light rail to ease QEW congestion.
  • Identify how policies and partnerships at the federal, provincial and regional government levels could be harmonized to increase efficiencies. For instance, municipalities could align their planning departments’ protocols and processes to make it easier to apply for transportation and logistics business permits.

“Niagara’s locational advantages cannot be taken for granted in a world of breakneck technological, economic and demographic shifts,” says the brief. “Addressing the immediate and growing constraints in the supporting infrastructure of transportation services, equipment and warehousing is time-sensitive. Equally so, investing in digital and institutional infrastructure to fully exploit emerging opportunities in eCommerce is not a luxury, but a necessity.”

Media interested in attending the July 7 virtual event should email

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970 

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Brock and WWF-Canada address freshwater challenges amid ‘threat multiplier’ COVID-19

Fri, 2020-06-26 09:55

MEDIA RELEASE: 26 June 2020 – R0107

The COVID-19 pandemic may not be causing freshwater challenges, but it’s certainly compounding the problems.

Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) and World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) have launched the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience.

Unable to host an in-person event due to COVID-19 restrictions, Brock and WWF-Canada officially launched the partnership with a Future of Freshwater virtual panel discussion Thursday, June 25 with more than 75 people across the country tuning in.

The panelists from both Brock and WWF-Canada agreed that the pandemic was adding complications to the challenges associated with fresh water in this country.

“The threats, impacts and issues we were addressing have been multiplied by COVID-19,” said Elizabeth Hendriks, Vice-President of Freshwater Conservation at WWF-Canada. “For Indigenous and other communities that didn’t have access to clean water prior to COVID, this means they are faced with an even higher risk impacting their families, infrastructure, health care and well-being.

“With our emergency and municipal services already strained, it feels like the COVID-19 prevention measures are putting even more strain on our already vulnerable people, and all our communities.”

Assistant Professor in Brock’s ESRC and the Department of Geography and Tourism, Julia Baird, Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience, said the crisis is bringing greater attention to inequities in access to clean water around the world.

“This increase in attention creates an opportunity for us as researchers and practitioners to bring a systems perspective and highlight the critical importance of things such as source water protection and a watershed/basin perspective,” she said. “As a scholar, it provides a way to engage more deeply with issues of mutual interest, do really solid research and contribute to scholarship on water governance, while also engaging in shared work that has immediate impact on the ground.”

Signed in 2019, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Brock and WWF-Canada solidifies an ongoing partnership between the two organizations, said Brock Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

“We are particularly pleased that Brock and World Wildlife Fund Canada are working together on a line of inquiry that is crucial to us all,” he said. “We need to be focused on the threats and impacts of climate change on freshwater. This partnership provides a foundation for new collaborative ventures and transdisciplinary research.”

Megan Leslie, President/CEO of WWF-Canada added that she is “excited we can finally share the news of what Brock University and WWF-Canada are doing together.”

“Canada is home to 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater, and with such abundance comes great responsibility to protect those waters. That goal has never been more important than right now,” said Leslie, who served as head of ocean conservation for the organization before taking on the leadership role in 2017.

The partnership will initially focus on the Saint John River in eastern Canada, using it as a research subject for Brock faculty and students with the goal of improving how communities along its banks handle the impacts of increased flooding as a result of climate change.

“One thing we’ve already learned is that nobody has a clear idea of who is doing what and where it relates to climate change, particularly the impacts of flooding along the river,” said Simon Mitchell, WWF-Canada Lead Specialist, Freshwater. “We’re developing a climate knowledge network survey, which will allow us to share experiences, develop common messaging, and better implement actions.”

The initial focus and national scope of the partnership will help to shape the future of water in Canada.

“This innovative partnership facilitates collaboration with one of Canada’s largest and most recognizable conservation organizations,” said Ryan Plummer, Professor and Director of the ESRC. “By working together, I am confident that we will advance science, policy and practice using the lens of water resilience.”


For more information or assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

* Alexandra del Castello, WWF-Canada Associate Specialist, Communications, or 647-246-6996

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Students around the globe experience Brock’s Virtual Convocation

Mon, 2020-06-22 11:55

MEDIA RELEASE: 19 June 2020 – R0106

During a normal Spring Convocation, it would take three days for half of Brock University’s graduating students to cross the stage and have their degrees conferred.

But on the first day that Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation portal opened Friday, June 19, it took just over three hours.

Thousands of students viewed their personalized Convocation portal, logging in from nearly every province and territory across the country and 41 countries around the world.

It certainly isn’t the traditional Convocation experience, with family and friends gathered in Ian Beddis Gymnasium to witness the pomp and circumstance of Convocation, but amid the restrictions of COVID-19, the Virtual experience is meant to celebrate students until an in-person gathering can be held in the future. Rather than a single-day event, the Virtual Convocation portal will remain online for students and their families to access and watch whenever they choose.

It’s personalized based on their Faculty and if they’re graduating with an undergrad or graduate degree, and includes fun animated elements such as the ‘Throw virtual confetti’ button, a nod to Brock’s tradition of graduating students throwing the bag of confetti first given to them when they were admitted to the University.

“Today’s Convocation represents your success,” Brock President Gervan Fearon said in his address to students. “As you move through your career and your life, you’ll always know that your Brock University experience and the strengths you have developed here, makes it possible to achieve your dreams and aspirations, even in the face of unanticipated developments.”

“The Class of 2020, wherever you go, whatever you do in the future, you are always part of the Brock family,” Fearon said. “I have been honoured to meet many of you, and I look forward to seeing and meeting you in the future, but now as alumni of Brock University.”

Delivering the Convocation keynote address was former Prime Minister the Right Honorable Paul Martin, one of five Honorary Doctorate recipients recognized by the University Friday.

Martin said when was first invited to address graduands at Convocation, he planned to speak to the need to advance co-operation between nations. But since then, something more pressing demanded his — and the world’s ­— attention.

“It is now self-evident that the game has changed,” said Martin, Canada’s Prime Minister from 2003 to 2006. “We’re dealing with forces that have challenged all of humanity. These forces are climate change and pandemic disease.”

The time is now, he said, that graduands must lead, noting that many are already on the frontlines of tackling climate change.

He added that previous cohorts of graduating classes — for example, those who graduated in the mid-1940s — faced shaky economics and worked to create a new world and build some of the most prominent global institutions, such as the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), “all of which made the world a safer place to be and gave us the longest period of economic growth and peace in modern history.”

“They did that in their time,” he said. “This is your time. And I know you are up for it. You are the next generation of leaders, of doers, of thinkers. And you’ve been educated in one of Canada’s great universities.”

While the battles of the past have been of military forces, economic prowess and global dominance, Martin said graduands must prepare to fight climate change, pandemic disease and the future of humanity.

“I believe you are our best chance to win the battles that lie ahead,” he said, adding that it is only made possible by working collaboratively and thinking globally.

“You and your generation here in Canada and all over the world must rise to the great challenges that lie ahead,” said Martin. “These are your challenges, and I know you’re up for them. As you leave university, I know that you will exemplify Brock’s motto: Push on. Push on to a better future. Push on to a better world. With that, I would like to congratulate you all today and I would like to thank you for what you will do tomorrow.”

In addition to his remarks, students and their families were invited to watch addresses from political and academic leaders, student colleagues, the other honorary degree recipients, and importantly, Chancellor Shirley Cheechoo, whose role includes the official conferring of the degrees for the nearly 3,000 graduating students.

Among the teaching and student awards handed out Friday were the Governor General’s Gold Medal, given out at each Spring Convocation to a graduate student with the highest academic average over all courses in their program.

However, since identical twins, Simon and Benjamin Earp-Lynch, of St. Catharines, finished their Faculty of Math and Science master’s degrees with identical 98 per cent averages, the University had to make a special request to the Governor General’s office to award two Gold Medal awards. It marks the first time the award it has been given to multiple recipients at Brock.


Note: While Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation portal opened to students and their friends and family on Friday, the wider community will have access to it starting Monday, and it will remain online for everyone to experience at their own leisure.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University 905-347-1970 

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Brock study shows dramatic impact of COVID-19 on active Canadians

Mon, 2020-06-22 11:52

MEDIA RELEASE: 18 June 2020 – R0105

A significant reduction in outdoor activity due to COVID-19 may be having a harmful effect on mental health, according to the early results of a new Brock University study.

A team of Brock researchers, led by Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies Tim O’Connell, set out to discover how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted outdoor recreation before, during and after physical distancing strategies were implemented in Canada.

The most important aspect of these results are respondents reporting significantly worse mental health due to the lack of opportunity to take part in outdoor recreation activities, said O’Connell.

“The magnitude of the impact was surprising,” he said. “We think it is a reflection of Canadians relying on outdoor recreation for healthy living and as a way to connect socially with others. We found that participants reported a significant change in mental health due to the lack of ability to get outdoors.”

O’Connell and co-investigators, Recreation and Leisure Studies Associate Professor Garrett Hutson and Adjunct Professor Ryan Howard, collaborated with ALIVE Outdoors, an outdoor and experiential education company, to collect data from 1,550 participants across an eight-day span beginning in early May.

The study reveals outdoor enthusiasts reduced their activities by six hours per week on average, but didn’t completely give up on being outdoors despite park closures.

Instead, they pivoted from venturous activities such as camping, mountaineering or playing outdoor sports in favour of gardening, walking and nature photography.

“Many of these more complex outdoor recreation experiences like canoeing, hiking and sea kayaking are pre-planned many months in advance,” said Howard. “What may have happened during COVID-19 is that many people had to go down their list of other outdoor recreation activities that they enjoy. We saw increases toward walking in the neighbourhood and bird watching.”

There are some key motivations that come through in the data and many of the participants relate a core set of activities to their identity, added Howard.

“We see these impacts coming to light over a very short period of time and that regular access to outdoor spaces with others is incredibly important to many Canadians for more than just exercise,” Howard said. “Individuals probably already enjoyed these activities, but they were likely secondary to their initial activities that formed a larger part of their identity.”

Participants planned to change their behaviour and travel to different places with different people and modify their activities.

They also vowed to return to their regular activities once the pandemic ends, will continue to honour the closure of recreational areas, and indicated that advocating for the protection of outdoor recreation resources was important to them in the future.

“Finding creative ways to maintain access while adhering to physical distancing requirements needs more attention from policymakers and a higher priority on public health agendas,” said Howard. “Rather than restrict, we should support these individuals to maintain their physical and mental health in times when this is incredibly important.”

The three researchers plan to delve deeper into the results of the survey and will be publishing their full findings in the coming months. The preliminary results will be shared with land management agencies, politicians and recreationists across Canada.

They are also developing a follow-up to the first phase of this study.

“We’re working on a second survey that continues to explore Canadians’ outdoor recreation experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic,” O’Connell said. “This is especially important as many outdoor recreation areas across Canada have reopened or are slated to reopen soon. We hope to launch the Phase 2 survey in the next few weeks and plan for a third phase, as well.”

Brock University Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies Tim O’Connell is available for media interviews.


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-347-1970

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Documentary on historic protest against anti-Black racism now available online

Wed, 2020-06-17 14:15

MEDIA RELEASE: 17 June 2020 – R0104

The acclaimed documentary It Takes A Riot: Race, Rebellion, Reform is now freely available to stream online.

Simon Black, Assistant Professor in the Department of Labour Studies, co-wrote and co-produced the film in 2017 with co-writer/director Howard Grandison and co-producer Idil Abdillahi.

“While we have been screening the film in educational and community settings for the past three years, we want this history to be more widely known,” says Black. “Before Black Lives Matter Toronto, there was the Black Action Defense Committee, and we want the names of legendary activists like Dudley Laws and Sherona Hall to be commonplace in the telling of Canadian history.”

Abdillahi, an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Ryerson University, says the goal of releasing the film now is “to remind people the concerns experienced by Black people in Canada from its inception as a nation state have not changed.”

The documentary tells the story of the Yonge Street Uprising on May 4, 1992, a rally organized by the Black Action Defence Committee in protest of both the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles and the shooting death of a young Black man, Raymond Lawrence, by Toronto police.

“What is made clear in the film is that while time has shifted, the realities of anti-Black racism have not,” Abdillahi says.

The documentary was first released on the 25th anniversary of the uprising at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum in North America.

Black says now in 2020, as Black Lives Matter protests continue around the world in the wake of the death of George Floyd, viewers will be all too familiar with attempts to focus on property damage rather than human lives, and efforts to criminalize protests by Black people decrying police brutality and systemic racism rather than acknowledge the urgent need for change.

“We hope the film informs conversations about anti-Black racism in Canada and inspires a younger generation of anti-racism activists,” says Black, who views the film as “public sociology.”

“We are working with director Howard Grandison on an updated, extended and final cut of the film,” he adds. “We hope to continue to use the film to do public education about anti-Black racism and the rich history of Black activism and resistance here in Canada.” 

It Takes A Riot: Race, Rebellion, Reform, which was funded by The Akua Benjamin Legacy Project at Ryerson University and the Social Justice Research Institute at Brock, is available to view on Vimeo here.

Simon Black, Assistant Professor in the Department of Labour Studies, is available for media interviews about the film.


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Brock and WWF-Canada partnership to address freshwater challenges

Wed, 2020-06-17 14:13

MEDIA RELEASE: 17 June 2020 – R0103

Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) is set to launch a new partnership focused on freshwater resilience and stewardship.

The University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) and will launch the partnership on Thursday, June 25 with a virtual panel discussion, The Future of Freshwater.

Each organization is contributing specific skills and abilities to support freshwater resilience — first in the St. John River Basin and then, over time, across Canada. The collaboration represents a transdisciplinary approach to research and practice.

For more than half a century, WWF-Canada has worked to protect the future of nature and is         the country’s largest international conservation organization. With 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater supply in Canada, we have a global responsibility to keep our waters healthy. WWF-Canada is working towards a future where all Canadian waters are in good condition by building water-resilient communities, bringing big water data to decision-making tables, and creating a culture of water stewardship across the country.

The MOU solidifies a partnership between the two organizations, which have collaborated together on projects over the years. Both Brock University and WWF-Canada aim to address freshwater challenges and opportunities through a mix of academic and community-based approaches to resilience and stewardship, in order to make evidence-based decisions.


What: Brock University and WWF-Canada collaboration announcement and The Future of Freshwater panel discussion

When: Thursday, June 25 from 2 to 3 p.m. EST

Where: Live on the Lifesize video conferencing platform here


For more information or assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

* Alexandra del Castello, WWF-Canada Associate Specialist, Communications, or 647-246-6996 

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Pain in the game: Participants sought for Brock study on gaming-related injuries

Wed, 2020-06-17 14:11

MEDIA RELEASE: 16 June 2020 – R0102

The popularity of esports is on the rise, with professional gamers sometimes practicing for 12 hours per day or more and at high levels of intensity.

While this drastically increases their susceptibility to musculoskeletal injuries and discomfort, there are currently no guidelines for gaming ergonomics, prompting the team at Brock University’s Neuromechanics and Ergonomics Lab to launch an online survey in the hopes of developing some.

“There are no statistics on the injuries of professional gamers,” says PhD student Garrick Forman (MSc ’19), who self-identifies as a big gamer. “Watching online tournaments, I started to see a lot of the players wearing kinesiology tape or braces due to wrist and forearm injuries. This got me thinking about the research potential and its implications for gamers.” 

Forman, whose doctoral research is Investigating the neuromuscular effects and mechanisms of forearm muscle fatigue on ipsilateral and contralateral fine motor function, hopes to survey as many gamers as possible to get a better sense of their gaming characteristics and habits such as console used, duration of play, frequency of breaks, type of seat, and areas of pain and discomfort.

“I am trying to find out when gaming injuries are starting and whether people are playing through the pain,” he says. “Not surprisingly, there have been documented injuries to professional gamers at a very young age and even recreational gamers report playing-related pain and discomfort.”

According to a December 2019 Business Insider report, the global games market is estimated to generate revenues of more than $1 billion in 2020, and is expected to surpass $1.5 billion by 2023.

“There is a lot of cross-over in gaming to biomechanics,” Forman says. “There are immense long-term possibilities for this research and as the esports industry grows, we need to grow with it.”

As online gaming and professional leagues have developed, some people now game for a living, making base salaries plus additional prize money. Audiences fill stadiums to watch tournaments and some of these multi-million-dollar organizations have even invested in fully staffed and equipped physiotherapy rooms on-site.

“One gaming tournament last year had a $35 million prize pool,” Forman says. “This translates into a potentially huge biomechanics industry, especially because we are moving into spending longer durations in the digital world. Due to COVID-19, we are home more and likely gaming more; however, this has long-term implications because of the direction gaming is moving.”

International in scope, the online survey has already generated responses from participants in more than 25 countries, which will allow the research team to compare data across various nations and continents.

In anticipation of the survey results, Forman is thinking about the broader impacts and how it might benefit other researchers.

“I’m excited to possibly help prevent injuries to the forearm, but maybe someone wants to do neck research on gamers,” Forman says. “Our findings may be able to support that.”

Following analysis of the survey results, Forman, whose supervisor is Kinesiology Associate Professor Michael Holmes, the Canada Research Chair in Neuromuscular Mechanics and Ergonomics, plans to do a number of laboratory studies on hand and forearm muscle fatigue and performance that will relate to gaming ergonomics.

“For a number of years, our lab has focused on identifying mechanisms of work-related injuries to the hand and wrist,” Holmes says. “Garrick’s thesis will contribute to the development of standards of practice for gaming and could lead to improved hardware design of gaming peripherals.”

Individuals worldwide who are 18 years of age or older and who play video games at any skill level on a regular basis (both on and off throughout the month, as well as weekly or) are invited to take the online survey, which takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.

Brock University PhD student Garrick Forman is available for interviews about the research.


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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Niagara Community Observatory releases research brief on Ontario’s Mood Walks program

Mon, 2020-06-15 15:51

MEDIA RELEASE: 15 June 2020 – R0101

Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) has released a research brief about Mood Walks, an Ontario hiking program designed to improve the mental and physical health of people experiencing mental health difficulties and social isolation.

The NCO’s brief, titled MOOD WALKS: The role of parks and recreation in mental health promotion, examines how the program is structured and implemented by mapping out the flow of information among multi-sectoral partners in the health, and parks and recreation sectors.

“It’s important to understand how information flows between sectors because many organizations work in isolation from others and good programs and services fail to serve the full scope of intended individuals,” says Associate Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies and brief co-author Martha Barnes.

The Mood Walks program is spearheaded by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). The Ontario program began in 2014 in collaboration with Hike Ontario, Conservation Ontario, and the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Tourism, Culture and Sport.

“Particularly given the current context, as we are planning if and how different services will be re-opening, we need to consider how access to parks and recreation spaces and program can play an important role in promoting community health,” says Assistant Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies and brief co-author Kyle Rich.

Barnes and Rich will be presenting their brief on Wednesday, June 17 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Those wishing to join the online event are asked to RSVP by noon Tuesday, June 16 by e-mailing A Microsoft Teams link will be sent to those pre-registering.

Mood Walks is structured to be both planned and delivered at the local level by social service agencies recruited into the program by the CMHA.

The authors’ research to trace the flow of information among all these groups involved a method called social network analysis (SNA), defined as being “a descriptive social science methodology that maps, measures and finds patterns in the connections between people and/or organizations.”

They used this method to identify who shared information on mental health, hiking trails, grants and/or the program in general and the pathways of where information is transmitted.  The researchers found the number of organizations sharing information about hiking trails were about three times greater than between organizations sharing information about mental health.

Health-care providers such as Niagara Region Mental Health and branches of CMHA are the main Mood Walks information providers in the network of organizations, and mostly communicate with other health-care providers.

“Unlike some networks that have a central organization that connects with all other organizations, the structure of the Mood Walks network is loose and fragmented with many organizations working independently in isolation from the larger network,” says the brief.

The research brief urges the Mood Walks network to bring everyone together “so that the full potential of the network can be reached” and function more effectively. It makes several recommendations, including:

  • Parks and recreation officials should take on the larger role of promoting community mental and physical health by engaging people to use physical spaces of parks and facilities through formal programs and casual use.
  • There needs to be greater awareness of resources within the parks and recreation sector so that more people can enjoy these resources.
  • Collaboration between the parks and recreation and the health sectors can be improved by specifically connecting with different organizations, providing training on how to build partnerships, and increasing awareness of the resources and services available.

Research has shown an array of benefits that being outdoors can have on physical, mental and emotional health, particularly in natural settings.

“Going for a walk can decrease the release of cortisol, which is also referred to as a stress hormone, which can have beneficial effects for well-being,” says Cheryl McCormick, Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies’ Faculty of Mathematics and Science.

McCormick, along with Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies Tim O’Connell, will be part of a panel at the virtual event on Wednesday.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, or 905-347-1970

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Brock scholarships help support 59 Niagara high school grads

Mon, 2020-06-15 15:38

MEDIA RELEASE: 15 June 2020 – R0100

For the sixth-consecutive year, Brock University celebrated 59 local students and future leaders by awarding the Niagara Principal’s Scholarships to two students from nearly every public, Catholic and private secondary school in the region.

The annual scholarships are given to students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and commitment to school and community. Each post-secondary principal may nominate up to five candidates, of which two are selected annually. The value of each award is $2,500. Since its inception, more than $830,000 in Niagara Principal’s Scholarship funding has been offered by Brock.

“Brock University is proud to continue the longstanding commitment to supporting and recognizing student excellence,” says Brock President Gervan Fearon. “Since the Niagara Principal’s Scholarship was launched in 2015, we have celebrated the success of students across the Niagara region who have chosen to pursue their post-secondary education at Brock.

“We are excited to see the variety of ways these students will contribute to the local community and the University. At Brock, we know we are a part of nurturing and fostering the future leaders of our region, country and world, and students receiving these scholarships are a big part of it, too.”

While the annual cohort of recipients are traditionally celebrated during a ceremony in the spring, the Campus Initiatives team in the Registrar’s Office got creative this year as physical distancing measures are in place due to COVID-19.

“This year’s recipients were recognized for their achievements by receiving a package in the mail that had their award and Brock swag in it,” says Recruitment Officer, Campus Initiatives Carly Dugo. “Later this summer, each recipient, along with their families and high school representatives, will be invited to a virtual awards recognition event to celebrate their achievements and meet other leaders from the Brock community.”

Despite necessary changes being made to the format in which recipients are recognized, Geraldine Jones, University Registrar and Associate Vice-President, Enrolment Services, says this doesn’t mean the celebrations are any less exciting.

“While it may have taken a different form this year, I am proud and excited that we were able to continue the tradition of celebrating the success of high achieving Niagara students who have chosen to study at Brock in the fall,” says Jones.

The 2020-21 cohort of Niagara Principal’s Scholarships recipients include:

Shreeya Patel, A.N. Myer Secondary School

Mayah Cousens, A.N. Myer Secondary School

Isabella Saranchuk, Beamsville District Secondary School

Gracie Groulx, Beamsville District Secondary School

Madison O’Brien, Blessed Trinity Catholic School

Alana Sawatsky, Blessed Trinity Catholic School

Amy Battista, Denis Morris Catholic School

Ola Hamid, Denis Morris Catholic School

Devon Fiander, DSBN Academy

Tajrian Hossain, DSBN Academy

Grace Teal, E.L. Crossley

William Guitard, E.L. Crossley

Lauren Gauthier, Eastdale Secondary School

Kaitlin Ives, Eastdale Secondary School

Chyenne Neath, École Secondaire Catholique Jean Vanier
Ian Lamothe, École Secondaire Catholique Jean Vanier

Aaron Friesen, Eden High School

Meghan Busca, Eden High School

Alex Reynen, Governor Simcoe Secondary School

Arlinda Veseli, Governor Simcoe Secondary School

Ethan Dobrenski, Great Lakes Christian School

Arica Oliver, Greater Fort Erie Secondary School

Morgan Robinson, Greater Fort Erie Secondary School

Emma Bergen, Grimsby Secondary School

Hayden Miller, Grimsby Secondary School

Ara Antonides, Heritage Christian School

Hendrick Brasz, Heritage Christian School

Anna Tolkacz, Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School

Kaitlyn Wiebe, Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School

Samuel Beifuss, Lakeshore Catholic High School

Emily Caldwell, Lakeshore Catholic High School

Megan Clemmensen, Laura Secord Secondary School

Andrew Yap, Laura Secord Secondary School

Anthony Colosimo, Notre Dame College School

Brooke Atamanyk, Notre Dame College School

Riley Simpson, Port Colborne High School

Kaitlyn Chambers, Port Colborne High School

Mona Shivafard, Ridley College

Mario Alejandro Vera Esparza, Ridley College

Cole Carpenter, Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School

Rachel Bufalino, Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School

Anna Khutornaya, Saint Michael Catholic High School

Michael Mohammed, Saint Michael Catholic High School

Grant Booth, Saint Paul Catholic High School

Karen Hanna, Saint Paul Catholic High School

Gage Mitchener, Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School

Griffen Mason, Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School

Hope Amos, Smithville Christian High School

Rachael DeMask, Smithville Christian High School

Manikham (Marianne) Vongboutdy, St. Catharines Collegiate

Carissa Marcantonio, St. Catharines Collegiate

Jenna Wiegand, Stamford Collegiate

Brooke Bernier, Stamford Collegiate

Rebecca Mosimann, Thorold Secondary School

Brooklyn Brown, Thorold Secondary School

Gabryelle Corriveau, Welland Centennial Secondary School

Rielly Jinks, Welland Centennial Secondary School

Maeve Martin, Westlane Secondary School

Dordaneh Mirbabaei Ghafghazi, Westlane Secondary School


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-347-1970

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