By Ramond P. Cote
Dalhousie University, a public university founded in 1818, occupies
60 acres in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It serves 13,500 students
and offers 125-degree programs for undergraduates, graduates and
professionals. The institution has a long history of commitment
to environmental studies, research and practice. This article
will survey Dalhousie's academic and operational initiatives,
paying particular attention to its connections with the surrounding
community and region through its Joint Project course with the
School for Resource and Environmental Studies, and the Burnside
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ACADEMIC INITIATIVES
Although Dalhousie is one of the most recent signatories of the
Talloires Declaration, its history in environmental research,
teaching and management dates back to the time of the Stockholm
Conference on the Human Environment. In 1973, the university established
one of the first interdisciplinary research institutes on the
environment in Canada, the Institute for Resource and Environmental
Studies (now School). In the late seventies, the Institute began
offering a Master of Environmental Studies and a Master of Urban
and Rural Planning, and the Faculty of Law began to establish
its international reputation in marine and environmental law.
In the mid eighties, the university developed a new degree program,
the Master of Marine Management, recognizing its location on Canada's
East Coast and its cross-university emphasis on oceans. Courses
on the environment were being added to curricula across the university.
New courses were being offered on Politics and the Environment
in the Department of Political Science, Environmental Policy in
the School of Public Administration, Environmental Chemistry in
the Department of Chemistry, etc.
In the nineties, Dalhousie further expanded its offerings in
the environmental field by instituting an Environmental Management
concentration at the School of Business Administration, and an
Environmental Engineering concentration in the Faculty of Engineering.
The university was also co-sponsor of an international conference
on University Action for Sustainable Development in 1991. New
courses continued to be added to the curriculum across the campus
including a first year undergraduate course in Environmental Studies.
The Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
have both created minors in environmental studies at the bachelor's
A new degree, the Bachelor of Management, is designed to foster
a new perspective in management in which concepts are drawn from
both business and public sector administration with information
management and environmental management woven through them. The
objective is to graduate a new manager for the 21st Century. This
new degree also reflects the unique configuration of the Faculty
of Management at Dalhousie that combines the Schools of Business
Administration, Public Administration, Library and Information
Studies, and Resource and Environmental Studies.
On the operational side, Dalhousie has not stood still. A recycling
program initiated by one staff member of the School for Resource
and Environmental Studies in the early eighties has now expanded
across the university. A recent survey indicated that approximately
fifty percent of the solid waste generated by the university is
now diverted from landfills. An award winning small chemicals
exchange program (called ChemEx) was initiated among local universities,
schools and hospitals in the early 90's. Dalhousie has also adopted
an integrated pest management policy, a smoke free policy and
a scent -free policy in the nineties.
The University adopted an environmental policy in 1994 and that
policy is now under review by the Senate Committee on the Environment
to ensure that it is consistent with the Talloires Declaration.
WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY
Community service is an important part of Dalhousie's mission.
One course and one project will exemplify the university implementation
of this aspect of the mission. The School for Resource and Environmental
Studies has, since its inception, required its graduate students
to complete a Joint Project course. This course has two basic
objectives: first, to teach students about project management
and teamwork and second, to contribute to the community. The community
as defined for this course can include the university itself,
municipal governments, provincial government agencies and voluntary
or not-for-profit organizations.
Some of the projects that have been undertaken are described
McNab's Island - 1982
This project produced an audio-visual presentation, "McNab's
Island: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," designed to explore
the historical and natural resources of McNab's Island in Halifax
Harbour, highlighting its value to the metropolitan area of Halifax.
The presentation on slide and video formats is available on loan
to schools, community groups and others.
Mahone Bay Coastal Improvements - 1984
This study examined the coastal zone of the town of Mahone Bay
from the perspective of the potential opportunities for development
based on social values, historical resources, tourism and the
biophysical attributes of the harbour. The report was presented
to the Town Council.
Conservation of Natural Areas and Wildlife in Nova Scotia
An audio-visual presentation was produced as part of a series
of modules on conservation issues in the province as they related
to the main themes of the World Conservation Strategy. This was
part of an effort by the School to raise the profile of the WCS
in Nova Scotia. The module characterized the uses and values of
natural areas and wildlife and outlined conservation issues that
had to be addressed.
Forest Ecology at the McFarlane Woods Nature Reserve - 1988
A school kit including a teacher's guide, a student guide, a
slide set and resource materials was produced to increase interest
in the nature reserves and the study of landscape and resource
uses. The kit encourages students to apply basic ecological field
methods in two small study areas in the McFarlane Woods.
Survey of Shoreline Litter in Halifax Harbour - 1989
This award-winning project produced an accurate assessment of
the type, amount and sources of persistent litter in the Harbour.
Nineteen 200 metre sites were surveyed representing approximately
5% of the 76-kilometre shoreline, on three occasions. The results
were presented at a meeting of government officials, non-governmental
organizations and the media.
Bicycles as a Form of Urban Transportation - 1991
This project promoted the use of bicycles in Halifax. A roundtable
discussion was organized involving representatives from local
cycling and environmental groups, universities, recreational committees
and various municipal and provincial agencies. The student team
prepared a discussion document for the roundtable and produced
a report that was distributed to participants.
Dalhousie University Environmental Audit - 1991
The project team developed a comprehensive framework for an environmental
audit of the university. The framework embodies perspectives of
both the university management and the departments, and it considers
three functions: administration, education and research. A report,
"Taking Up the Challenge," was produced.
Cultivating Solutions in a Garden of Possibilities - 1997
This project produced six radio programs, which were broadcast
on the university radio station CKDU and later on Radio for Peace
International. The programs emphasized issues associated with
community development, focusing specifically on Communities, Ethics,
Business, Food, Health and Environmental Education.
Ecological Assessment of the Musquodoboit Trail - 1998
This project was undertaken in collaboration with the Musquodoboit
Trailway Association. The team was asked to provide information
on the ecological significance of the trail's surroundings, and
a detailed report on the flora of the area was prepared for the
Taking Responsibility for Water Quality in the Bras d'Or Lakes
At the request of the Bras d'Or Stewardship Society, the team
compiled information on the quality of the lakes in Cape Breton,
focussing primarily on the link between sewage disposal and shellfish
growing area closures. A report was prepared for the Stewardship
Society and a pamphlet was produced intended to raise the public's
awareness of the relationship between the practices of homeowners
and boaters and water quality. The pamphlet was eventually distributed
throughout the area by the Society.
THE BURNSIDE INDUSTRIAL PARK AS AN ECOSYSTEM PROJECT
Burnside Industrial Park is one of the five largest parks in
Canada, ranging over 2500 acres, with 1300 businesses and 18,000
employees. This research and development project, Canada's first
recognized industrial ecology project, has an active community
involvement element. As ecosystems are more or less definable
units linking species within communities with their chemical and
physical surroundings, an industrial ecosystem must necessarily
involve one or more business communities operating with full awareness
of the environmental capacity of the area. The project has identified
a number of strategies which will assist in the evolution of what
is at best a very immature ecosystem into one which is more mature
regarding the nature of materials and products and their reuse
and recycling. This requires the creation of stronger networks
among businesses in the Park.
Project staff have written a regular column, "The Burnside
Ecosystem," in the Park's monthly newspaper for the past
five years. The column is designed to educate business managers
and employees about environmental issues and practices. An extension
and information centre has been established in the Park as well.
The centre is staffed by one full time employee and students from
the engineering and business Coop programs who are trained to
conduct environmental reviews of small businesses. The project
also publishes a series of eco-efficiency fact sheets for businesses.
Topics include: used oil management; vehicle maintenance and repair;
managing organics in your business; water conservation; managing
pallets; greening employees; and greener purchasing policies.
These fact sheets are advertised and made available to businesses
on request. The centre is a partnership between Dalhousie University
and Nova Scotia Power Inc., the province's private electric utility,
with financial support from the environmental management and economic
development agencies from the municipal, provincial and federal
levels of government.
This project has generated international interest and the Park
receives visitors from around the world to see the strategies
in action and to study the evolution of the Park.
Progress continues to be made in administration, teaching, research
and community service at Dalhousie. The University's next major
project may be the design and construction of the region's most
energy efficient and environmentally sensitive building for the
Faculty of Management. This building would house the School for
Resource and Environmental Studies and would serve as a regional
demonstration project and teaching laboratory for planners, architects,
engineers and environmental specialists.
Raymond P. Cote is a professor in the School for Resource and
Environmental Studies and the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie
University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He is reachable at
tel: 902-494-1358; fax: 902-494-3728; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Dalhousie's work with the Burnside Industrial
Park, see www.mgmt.dal.ca/sres/research; for information on the
Eco-Efficiency Centre, see www.dal.ca/eco-burnside.
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