MEET THE TEAM
Leith Deacon, PhD: Leith is an Associate Professor in the School of Envirionmental Design and Rural Development, in the Ontario Agriculture College, at the University of Guelph. He is a registered professional planner (RPP) and holds membership with the Canadian Institute of Planners (MCIP). Leith is interested in concepts of governance, resiliency, mental health, planning, and policy primarily related to small and rural communities.
Kristof Van Assche, PhD: Kristof is a Professor in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Albera with interests in evolution and innovation in governance, with focus areas in spatial planning and design, development and environmental policy. He worked in various countries, and often combines fieldwork with theoretical reflection: systems theories, interpretive policy analysis, institutional economics, post- structuralism. He held visiting positions at McGill University, Krakov Agricultural University, Wageningen University, Bonn University. Geographically, his work spans Europe, the America’s, Central Asia and the Caucasus. He published widely on these topics.
Kristof is also associated with Wageningen University, where he is Visiting Associate Professor in Strategic Communication, and with Bonn University, where he is Research Fellow at ZEF/ Institute for Development Research. At UAlberta, he also works at Faculty of Extension and has affiliation as Adjunct Professor with the Faculty of Agricultural and Life Sciences (Human Ecology).
Monica Gruzmacher, PhD: Monica Gruzmacher, PhD has worked with development issues and received a PhD on this topic from the Center for Development Studies of the University of Bonn. She has studied social and ecological change mostly in small rural communities. She also has had a long time interest in working with indigenous communities which are integrating into western ways of living and the implications this process of change might have on the use and management of natural resources. She is currently a researcher and Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, and involved in projects on rural development, nature conservation and governance for boom and bust.
Jacob Papineau, PhD student: Jake is a graduate student at the U of A (PhD, Geography), supervised by Dr. Deacon. His research examines innovation in the context of resource-based communities (RBCs) in Canada. He hopes to explore how innovation may function as a process by which RBCs can become more resilient. He holds a BA in Human Geography and History from the U of A (2014) and a Master of Planning (MPlan.) degree from Dalhousie (2016). At Dalhousie, his work focused on First Nations community planning and the implications of integrating sustainable building technologies into housing designs in a First Nations community in Cape Breton, NS.
His research interests are broad: resource-based communities, governance, policy, community development and engagement, innovation, technology use, First Nations community development, land-use planning, community/urban design, and sustainability. He also has professional experience in preparing community plan and strategy documents, facilitating workshops, engaging stakeholders, and policy development at the governmental level. Motivated to produce work that supports self-determination and inclusive development at the community level, Jake seeks to understand and address barriers and faced by communities as they strive towards sustainability.