Nicolas Brunet, Ph.D.

B.Sc. Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (2003) McGill University; M.Sc. Rural Planning and Development (2006) University of Guelph, Canada; Ph.D. (Renewable Resources), McGill University (2014).


Interests: Rural development; Politics of knowledge; Regional planning; Environmental policy and decision-making; Public participation.


Ph.D. Thesis:




Many researchers have claimed that Northern science has experienced a paradigm shift which includes an increased emphasis on local community engagement. However, very few studies have empirically examined this claim. This thesis seeks to better understand and explore stakeholder participation in Northern science to inform research policy and practice, primarily in Canada. The shift towards a greater emphasis on local community engagement in Northern science fits within a broader transition that has been observed in international research policy, described by Gibbons et al. (1994) as a shift from Mode 1 (traditional forms of scientific discovery) to Mode 2 (knowledge generated in the context of application) approaches to knowledge production. Using this framework to analyze research articles published between 1960 and 2010 in four prominent Arctic and polar-focused journals, we identify that shifts toward Mode 2 research approaches over time have been modest and gradual, and that Mode 1 forms of knowledge production continue to dominate Northern science. Local involvement in research appears to vary systematically among disciplines, organizations and regions, raising important questions for research and policy. Recognizing that claims of a new Northern research paradigm have been coupled with growing levels of dissatisfaction with research activities within many Northern indigenous communities, there is a need to better understand the factors that enable and limit research partnership development as well as the associated outcomes. Using a single in-depth case study analysis of a successful research partnership of an International Polar Year program in a remote northern Yukon community, it was revealed that certain contextual and procedural aspects were associated with positive outcomes. The procedural aspects included early engagement in the research design or even proposal-writing process which was associated with decentralized control and power sharing. Important contextual elements included local research history and local decision making processes as well as local forms of reciprocity and trust, all identified as critical to building bridging social capital between researchers and communities. Building on these findings, a national survey of Northern research stakeholders revealed that contextual elements were generally considered more important than procedural considerations. More specifically, respondents indicated that research partnership success was more often depended on how and to what extent the social capital of stakeholders was bridged, often expressed as iii trust. Acknowledging the importance of the research context and inspired by the literature on research for development, a capital assets approach to conceptualizing and assessing partnership outcomes is proposed. Based on survey data, the potential for such a capital assets approach to improve our understanding of the transformative effects of scientific research partnerships on communities and researchers is discussed.


Awards and Scholarships:

Bourse de Doctorat- Fonds Québécois sur la Recherche et la Cuture 2010-2013

Northern Scientific Training Program Grant 2010-2011

McGill - SSHRC Internal Grant 2010-2011

Graduate Research Assistantship (2009-2012), Northern Research Chair in Wildlife Biology and Traditional Food Security in Canada's Changing North.

Provost's Graduate Fellowship (2009), McGill University.

Bourse de la Faculté des Études Supérieures de l`Université de Montréal (2006).

Southwestern Ontario- Ontario Professional Planners Institute Scholarship (2005).

Robb Research Travel Grant (2006), University of Guelph.

Latornelle Graduate Research Travel Scholarship (2005), University of Guelph.

Herbert F. Crown Memorial Scholarship (2005), University of Guelph.

University Graduate Scholarship (2004 & 2005) University of Guelph.

Rural Planning & Development Research Travel Grant (2005) University of Guelph.


Demonstrator Positions and Teaching Assistantships:

ENVR203 Knowledge, Ethics and the Environment

NRSC437 Assessing Environmental Impact


Conference Presentations:

Brunet, N.D., Hickey, G.M., Humphries, M.M. (2012). Understanding community participation in the environmental sciences: Factors and outcomes. Oral presentation at the he Canadian Association of Geographers’ (CAG) 2012 Annual Conference and Meeting: “Toward Integration”. Waterloo, ON, Canada. 28 May – 2 June, 2012.

Brunet, N.D., Hickey, G.M., Humphries, M.M. (2012).The evolution of community participation and the mode of knowledge production in arctic and environmental change research. Oral presentation at the International Polar Year (IPY) 2012 Conference: “From Knowledge to Action”. Montreal, QC, Canada. 22-27 April 2012.

Brunet, N. and Hickey, G.M. (2010). Public policy and research in Canada’s North: Promoting partnerships in the natural resource sciences. International Conference on Science in Society, Madrid, Spain, November 2010.

"Exploring Stakeholder Perceptions Regarding the Benefits of Natural Science Research in Canada`s North: Processes and Outcomes". Association for Canadian Universities in Northern Studies Conference, October 2009, Whitehorse, Yukon.

“Agriculture on the Edge: Farming models that bridge the urban-rural divide” Bridging Borders Towards Food Security Conference. October 2006, Vancouver, British-Columbia.

“Innovations in Near-Urban Agriculture: Can Farming Persist in the Urban Shadow?” The annual conference of the Agricultural Institute of Canada. November 2005, Quebec, Quebec.

“Innovations in Near-Urban Agriculture: Can Farming Persist in the Urban Shadow?” The annual conference of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute. September 2005, Hamilton, Ontario.



Brunet, N.D., Hickey, G.M. and Humphries, M.M. (2014). Understanding community-researcher partnerships in the natural sciences: A case study from the Arctic. Journal of Rural Studies 36: 247-261.

Brunet, N.D., Hickey, G.M. and Humphries, M.M. (2014). The evolution of local participation and the mode of knowledge production in Arctic research. Ecology & Society 19(2): 69. [online]

Brunet, N., Caldwell,W., Hilts, S. In Review. Agricultural Adaptation in the Peri-Urban Space: Farmer perceptions and farm model trends. The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.

Hickey, G.M., Brunet, N. and Allan, N. (2010). A constant comparison of the Environmental Assessment legislation in Canada. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning 12(3): 315-329

Brunet, N. 2007. Farmland preservation and farm level adaptation: approaches to preserving and promoting agricultural activities in the peri-urban space. In. Wilton, B., S. Hilts & W. Caldwell. (Eds.). 2007. Farmland Preservation: Challenges and Opportunities. Volumes Publishing, Kitchener, Ontario.

Hilts, S., Caldwell, W., Brunet, N. & Thibodeau, M. 2006. La Protection du territoire agricole: Approches innovatrices en Ontario. Urbanité: December 2006.