YORK UNIVERSITY, CANADA
Research focus: policies, procedures and designs to ensure that green infrastructure installations support goals of social equity and equal opportunity
Universally, sustainable development aims to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. The concept, ‘just sustainabilities’ involves the full integration of social justice and sustainability. Harris’ research embraced this concept, focusing on planning, education and design for just sustainabilities. He studied the processes, designs and policies that are capable of generating social change through popular education, capacity building and sustainable urban design in diverse communities.
Harris studied inclusive public engagement as a way of building community identity. He focused his work on the potential for bike usage to become widely used and socially acceptable in the suburban Black Creek area. His project involved a comparative analysis of six global cities, which had undertaken extensive and equitable low carbon mobility projects. He then conducted three community-led popular education sessions to allow them to shape their vision of a future with bikes and cargo bikes. The results indicated that residents wanted to use bikes year-round, but without safe, separated pathways along arterial roads, that was not a realistic option. His current research focus explores the challenges of execution, involving topics such as the various development processes used to meet green infrastructure targets and the usage of community insight to guarantee that the green infrastructure meets people’s mobility needs.
Harris has received several awards for his work, including the Tom Arnold Scholarship and distinction in the TD Go Green Challenge. He has worked as a research assistant at Allan Bonner Communications Management Inc. and as a junior fellow at the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability at York University. He is eager to collaborate with communities in order to plan and implement projects that integrate green infrastructure and also enable equity and equal opportunity.
The jury praised his efforts to find the links between urban living, sustainability and transport methods. Harris wishes to use this award to mentor others involved in Green Talents in developing innovative and sustainable ideas.