Sustainable Communities: Making a Difference

Royal Roads’ University Library Showcase
January 17th - March 31st, 2019

Never before has tackling climate change, biodiversity loss, and acting on sustainable community development been more important. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report stating that we have just 12 years to take unprecedented action to cut carbon emissions and hold global warming to a moderate, but still dangerous and disruptive level. Given this critical timeframe, we believe we must act now and take unprecedented action. How we can communicate the urgency and scale of the necessary actions? We hope that our research will make a difference.

We are a small, yet mighty transdisciplinary research team led by Professor Ann Dale in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University. Established during the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Sustainable Community Development (2004-2014), we investigate a variety of critical social issues in an effort to uncover solutions to some of the most pressing issues we face in Canada. We are deeply committed to making a difference with our research. Our main goal is to build civic literacy and useful knowledge that not only helps guide the Canadian public onto more sustainable pathways, but also contributes to more evidence-based policy-making. To achieve this, we do everything from designing data visualizations and conducting climate change research in British Columbia, to curating content across our social media channels and hosting virtual conversations about biodiversity conservation.

Carbon Thoughts , by  Nancyanne Cowell , 2016, oil mixed-media on two canvases, 48” x 36”.

Carbon Thoughts, by Nancyanne Cowell, 2016, oil mixed-media on two canvases, 48” x 36”.

It takes many minds to uncover solutions to today’s wicked problems, which is why collaboration is at the centre of our work.

We collaborate with a diversity of researchers, practitioners and civil society leaders whenever possible through idea-sharing workshops, peer-to-peer learning exchanges and e-Dialogues. One of our goals is to change the conversation on a variety of issues affecting Canadians. Our collaborative activities help us rethink and reframe modern day challenges and bridge traditional polarized debates. They also help to uncover and co-create innovative, scalable and viable solutions.

Knowledge mobilization is another key activity that drives our work, as we strive to disseminate our research as it is happening on the ground. Over the last seventeen years, we have experimented with the use of various internet communication technologies (ICT’s) to help close the gap between academia and the public. Our foundational and longstanding website,, features a range of content—from case studies, policy documents and data visualizations, to research projects, publications and our blog, Views from the Edge. Our real-time virtual e-Dialogue platform, Changing the Conversation, is an experimental and collaborative space to join or start a conversation. A vital element in our dissemination strategy, is social media. Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and our YouTube channel, HEAD Talks, we have experimented with curating our research outcomes along with relevant initiatives, publications and news stories. More recently we have been developing the practice of research curation, which provides a framework for disseminating curated research outcomes more widely to the public. Through this research, we have explored how the integration of art and aesthetics can enhance research outcomes, as visual storytelling often engages viewers on a more visceral level.

Throughout this research exhibit, we have featured a series of projects that embody the core subjects, themes and methodologies that drive our research process. These most notably include sustainable community development; climate change adaptation and mitigation; biodiversity conservation; changing the conversation; knowledge mobilization; and transdisciplinary collaboration to make a difference in our lifetimes.

In striving to affect change through the production of evidence-based research, we hope to engage the hearts and minds of the public, thereby leading to more sustainable communities.