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Board work a way to contribute to network

Cristian Ches, CMC’s new student representative on the Board of Directors, applied for the position because of a desire to make a meaningful contribution to the network and to society.

“It may sound like a cliché, but your responsibility as a scientist, or an aspiring scientist, lies beyond your research. I’m a researcher and the role of the researcher is not just to understand and interpret the world, but to act as an agent of change,” says Ches, fourth-year student at the University of Toronto who has sat on numerous other committees.

Societal conflicts examined

Ches has a unique set of skills that include work with the Canadian public sector as well as extensive research experience at several universities. Currently, he is working on the Theme D project “Governance innovation and the transition to a low-carbon economy” with U of T Professor Doug MacDonald and Carleton University Professors James Meadowcroft and Glen Toner.

His work on the project involves examining conflicts that appear when renewable energies or new technologies, such as wind energy or carbon capture and storage, are implemented. He’s currently conducting a literature review but hopes to move on to administering either surveys or interviews to individuals in three groups: grass roots organizations opposed to renewables; the Ontario government; and energy industries with an interest in renewables.

“I’m the only geographer on the team and it came naturally to examine society and the environment,” he says. His doctoral work focuses on climate change policies at the municipal level.

Network has snowball effect

Ches is enthusiastic about CMC and its focus on networking with people inside and outside of academia. “Even small research projects are important. But you have a snowballing effect with 25 universities and over 150 plus researchers all looking in the same direction and working toward a common goal.” This is compounded by the fact CMC has supporters in industry, government and other organizations. Ches likens it to a “collective commitment” to find ways of combating climate change through business practices, policy development and cleaner technologies.