News Release

REF NO.: 63

SUBJECT: Report calls for more community involvement in environment and natural resource research

DATE: October 30, 2014

       More voices need to be heard in public discussions about the environment and natural resource development in Newfoundland and Labrador, according to a recent report prepared for Memorial University’s Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development.

       The environment and natural resource development—including oil, hydro, fishery, forestry, and agriculture—contribute significantly to the Newfoundland and Labrador economy. However, report author Dr. Tom Cooper, associate professor, Faculty of Business Administration, and an expert on stakeholder engagement, points out that the public policy and applied research work the Harris Centre has supported during its first 10 years relating to this sector may better serve the province if it was more closely aligned with the principles of engaged scholarship.

       “The work supported by the Harris Centre clearly demonstrates the intrinsic interconnectedness of the environment and natural resource development issues. Therefore, it is essential to further develop our understanding of the importance of this sector in the context of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the best tool for that is engaged scholarship,” explained Dr. Cooper.

       Engaged scholarship focuses on involving a diverse range of stakeholders in all aspects of projects to better contend with environmental, social, and economic concerns surrounding natural resource development. It also helps to ensure that projects reflect the concerns of local communities, not just those of researchers or decision-makers.

       “The Harris Centre’s work on the environment and natural resource development could be made more effective and relevant by including dimensions and learning activities connected to, and with, local community stakeholders,” said Dr. Cooper. “The centre has moved the bar when it comes to research and engaged scholarship on the environment and natural resources sector, and with a focused, multidisciplinary approach, it can continue to do so for the next 10 years.”

       The report is the final of five thematic reports commissioned by the Harris Centre in recognition of its 10th anniversary. The series of reports assess significant issues the province has faced during the past decade and what issues can be anticipated in the next. Dr. Cooper’s report examines the theme of environment and natural resources; the other topics are demographics and labour market, culture, heritage and society, rural and regional development and governance and public policy. These reports will form the basis of NL Forum 2014, a two-day conference hosted by the Harris Centre from Nov. 4-5 in St. John’s.

        Since its creation in 2004, the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development has funded, supported and fostered numerous research projects, public forums, workshops and conferences contributing to the understanding of important issues facing the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

       To read Dr. Cooper’s report, to find out more information on NL Forum 2014 and to register for the conference, visit www.mun.ca/harriscentre/nlforum.

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