Nicolas Brunet

Head shot of Nicolas Brunet
Associate Professor - Rural Planning & Development, (Latornell Professor in Environmental Stewardship); RPD Graduate Coordinator
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 ext. 54414
Landscape Architecture, Room 114
Rural Planning and Development; Rural Studies PhD

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  • PhD - Renewable Resources, McGill University (2015)
  • MSc - Rural Planning and Development, University of Guelph (2006)
  • BSc - Environmental Biology, McGill University (2003)

Bio Summary

Being outdoors and going on adventures is what Nicolas enjoyed most growing up. His love of the outdoors led him to his undergraduate degree in environmental science, but he also had an interest in agriculture and wanted to learn more. He came to the University of Guelph to study agriculture, but discovered that a lot of what interested him was actually conservation. Nicolas soon learned that the tools of conservation are embedded within planning, leading him to his studies and research in rural planning and development. His current position enables him to combine his passions for conservation and contributing to improved environmental management and land use planning policies to make a real world impact.  

Affiliations and Partnerships 

  • President of the University of Guelph Northern Studies Committee
  • Member of the University of Guelph Senate
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Alberta Environment and Parks - Government of Alberta
  • Cold Lake First Nations
  • Nunavut Research Institute
  • Coral Harbor, Pond Inlet and Cape Dorset, Nunavut
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • Young Conservation Professionals Program

Research Impact

Nicolas is the Latornell Professor in Environmental Stewardship at the University of Guelph with a research program in the community-based conservation field coupled with large scale social-ecological mixed method studies at international and national scales. His research focuses upon natural resource governance and sustainable community development, and the tools, such as Indigenous community based monitoring and community science, used to measure the impacts of resource extraction (mining; oil and gaz) in boreal and Arctic ecosystems. His research aims to build community capacity to engage in decision-making in response to various contributors to environmental change.

Current Research Projects

Understanding fisheries governance issues in coastal Ontario First Nations
This project aims to collaboratively develop our understanding of the history and current status of First Nations fisheries management within the Great Lakes. This project emerged as a direct response to a lack of resources and published materials regarding First Nations fisheries within the Great Lakes in Canada, compared to Tribal Councils in the United States who have had access to many more fisheries management resources. The aim is to co-create, using insights, guidance and knowledge, published reports that will document First Nations fisheries management perspectives and practice. Funding for this project has been provided by Royal Bank of Canada.

The role of environmental researchers in Inuit youth science literacy in Nunavut
There is a growing movement for researchers to be more inclusive of communities and individuals in Northern scientific research. As this inclusion becomes more common place, opportunities for employment and education in research also increase for local Inuit, and researchers seek partnerships with knowledgeable, skilled community members. This research aims to examine the roles of researchers in engaging Inuit youth in land-based environmental research and opportunities for enhancing scientific literacy in Inuit Nunangat. It will also explore the unique perspectives that youth bring to environmental research and how these perspectives contribute to research. This project is funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant.

Environmental science communication in Nunavut, Canada: Towards a federal policy
Good communication between researchers and community members is essential for the success of wildlife research projects in Nunavut, as well as for the incorporation of relevant research findings in decision-making. The primary goal of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of scientific communication practices conducted by wildlife researchers in Nunavut communities. It will examine what communication methods and approaches Nunavummiut generally view as most effective and then identify best practices for communicating scientific findings. Funding for this project has been provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

A regional approach to community-based fish monitoring in Northern Alberta
Extraction and use of natural resources can create an unfair environmental burden on downstream and downwind ecosystems and communities, leading to public opposition to new developments such as dams, pipelines and mines. This project will assess fish health in the territories of three Indigenous groups in the Alberta oil sands region that face environmental pressures from resource development. The framework unifies scientific and traditional knowledge to produce a shared understanding of environmental change and establishes indicators to be monitored for future change. This project is funded by the Government of Alberta Environment and Parks.

Graduate Student Information

Nicolas has students involved in various ways with his research. With some of his current research projects that involve work with Indigenous communities throughout the Canadian North, his grad students have the opportunity to visit remote communities for weeks at a time conducting fieldwork. Nicolas says he is still developing his advisory style but tries to make himself easily accessible to all of his students while empowering them to take on leadership roles within project teams. With many of his projects taking place in remote places, virtual meetings, text messaging and other tools are commonly used for him and his students to discuss project progress. He responds to email inquiries frequently and hopes to maintain timely responses as he takes on more projects and students.

Featured Publications

Brammer, J., Brunet, N.D., Cuerrier, A., Dewan, K., Herrmann, T.M., Humphries, M., Larocque, G., Mulrennan, M., Scott, C. and St-Arneau, M. (2016). The role of digital data entry in participatory environmental monitoring. Conservation Biology 30(6): 1277-1287.

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 and Society 19(2):69-81.

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.

Cuerrier, A., Brunet, N.D., Gérin-Lajoie, J., Downing, A. and Lévesque, E. 2015. The study of Inuit knowledge of climate change in Nunavik, Quebec: A mixed methods approach. Human Ecology 43(3):379-394.

Brunet, N.D., Hickey, G.M. and Humphries, M.M. (2016). Local participation and partnership development in Canada's Arctic research: Challenges and opportunities in an age of empowerment and self-determination. Polar Record.52(3): 345-359.

Area of Research

Rural Planning and Development
Rural Studies