The Department of Environment and Geography is a community of scholars specializing in integrated knowledge of the physical, biological and human environment. Our central aim is to provide exceptional opportunities for learning by providing progressive and comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs; delivering challenging and innovative courses that foster and promote critical thinking; technical expertise and analytical skills; offering practical, experiential, and workplace learning opportunities; promoting environmental awareness and literacy both within and outside the University; building (inter)disciplinary linkages within the University, and with other universities, governmental and non-governmental agencies, and community groups; supporting and stimulating excellence and innovation in teaching; supporting and stimulating commitment to community service and outreach; supporting and stimulating excellence in research and scholarship; and welcoming and celebrating diversity in the Departmental community.
Dr. McLachlan is full professor of environmental science at the University of Manitoba. His main academic goal is to do research that not only contributes to academic literature, but also benefits the livelihoods and environments of Aboriginal and rural communities and other stakeholders. He also strives to be an engaging, progressive and responsible teacher. McLachlan’s teaching and research areas blend the biological and social sciences.
He and his research group, the Environmental Conservation Lab, are particularly interested in community-centred and action research with farmers, rural communities and First Nations across western North America, Europe and Asia. These researchers use a broad range of research approaches, including seed bank sampling and interviews, to respond to management and conservation-related problems affecting resource-dependent communities around the world.
In 2003, McLachlan created the SSHRC-funded documentary, Seeds of Change: Farmers, Biotechnology, and the New Face of Agriculture, which examined the controversy surrounding genetically modified crops and their impact on agriculture in western Canada.
McLachlan has worked at the U of M since 1999. Before coming here, he completed a PhD at York University and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Northern British Columbia.
Dr. Oakes is a professor in the University of Manitoba’s department of environment and geography. She studies the relationships between people, belief systems, and the environment. She is also interested in the meaning and importance of traditional activities, and works to document the traditional knowledge of First Nations Elders.
Oakes has played a key role in more than 100 publications. Recently, she co-edited Climate Change: Linking Traditional and Scientific Knowledge. In this timely and important work, more than 50 community experts and scientists share their concerns and advice on adapting to climate change and on its implications for northern economies, development, and landscapes.
Oakes completed all of her post-secondary studies at the University of Manitoba. She earned an interdisciplinary PhD in human ecology, anthropology, zoology and education; her MSc in interdisciplinary studies and human ecology; her bachelors degree in human ecology; and a teaching certificate.
Dr. Sinclair is a professor at the University of Manitoba’s Natural Resources Institute (NRI), where he has worked since completing his PhD at the University of Waterloo in 1991.
Sinclair’s main interest is involvement in non-government initiatives, especially those related to environmental sustainability. His strong committment to these values is reflected in both his research and teaching, which involve the theme of civic engagement in resource and environmental decision-making.
Sinclair teaches courses in environmental assessment, environmental governance, individual and social learning in resource and environmental management and thesis research methods. As well, he lends his valuable field research and teaching experience to the NRI field seminar courses.
One of Sinclair’s current research involvements involves leading the Common Ground Research Forum: A Cross-Cultural Learning Platform for Resource Sharing (CGRF). The CGRF is funded by a SSHRC/Community University Research Alliance grant, and its partners include the City of Kenora, Grand Council Treaty #3, the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg. Building on the community-led initiative of “Common Ground,” the project explores how Kenora and its surrounding First Nations are working together in a unique partnership to plan and manage the use of nearby heritage land.
Sinclair’s passion for environmental stewardship is also demonstrated by his active involvement in various non-government organizations and professional associations. His national commitments include the Canadian Environment Network’s environmental assessment caucus, which he has chaired twice, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s regulatory advisory committee.
At the local level, Sinclair chairs the University of Manitoba Sustainability Committee, which guided the University Sustainability Action Plan through Board of Governors approval. The University of Manitoba has recognized Sinclair’s outreach activities in the community with awards such as the Campbell Outreach Award. He has also been involved with the Green Action Center, and is a past president and founding board member of Manitoba Model Forest Inc.
Shirley Thompson’s interests lie with food and housing, and water security in northern areas.
Many Aboriginal communities lack adequate infrastructure and food production and distribution facilities such as greenhouses, gardens, livestock or hunting arrangements to ensure local food security.
Dr. Thompson’s food-related research projects include looking at the social economy of food (farmer’s markets, community gardens, community-shared agriculture, etc.) and two students studying country food and food security in Northern Manitoba Aboriginal communities. She also teaches a graduate course that focuses on food security as an ecosystem health and environmental justice issue.
Dr. Thompson recently completed a two-year research project with Environment Canada on finalizing the Canadian loadings methodology to comply with the International Protocol for Climate Change.
She also managed a $48,000 project with the City of Winnipeg and Manitoba Hydro on landfill gas.
Dr. Feiyue Wang is a professor in the department of environment and geography at the University of Manitoba. He is interested in the biogeochemical processes of trace elements across air-ice-water interfaces, water-sediment interfaces, and the water-biota interface. He works at the molecular scale and at regional and global scales to address “real-world” environmental problems.
Dr. Wang is involved in a partnership with Sapotaweyak Cree Nation that involves teaching high school students to test water quality in their community.