‘Environment’ Panelists & Moderator

Ken ArmsonKen Armson R.P.F., is a professional forester who graduated ( B.Sc. Forestry) from the University of Toronto in 1951 and in 1954-1955 undertook graduate studies at Oxford University in tree nutrition.   Following two years in forest soils research with the Research Division of the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests he joined the staff of the Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto where he taught and did research in silviculture and forest soils for 26 years. In 1975-1976 he undertook a study of forest management in Ontario for the provincial government; as a result he joined the Ministry of Natural Resources in 1978 as the chief negotiator with Ontario’s forest industry which resulted in Forest Management Agreements. With the Ministry he was successively, Chief Forester, Executive Director of Forest Resources and finally Provincial Forester. During the Ontario Environmental Board’s Hearings (1988-1992) on timber management in the province he had a major role in both the Ministry’s submission and as a witness.

During his career he has acted as a consultant for several provinces, the state of Western Australia, and the forest industry. In the 1990’s he was involved with the Canadian Standards Association’s development of the standard for Sustainable Forest Management. Since 2000 he has primarily been active in writing and promoting interest in Ontario’s forest history and founded the Forest History Society of Ontario in 2009. He is the author of more than 120 professional and scientific papers and several books including a text on Forest soils and on Ontario’s Forests.

Valerie CourtoisValérie Courtois is a specialist in aboriginal issues and forest ecology. She completed her undergraduate studies in Forestry Sciences at the University of Moncton in 2002. Valerie regularly lectures at conferences and universities around the world, focusing on ecosystem planning and First Nations issues. As environmental planner for the Innu Nation in Labrador from 2003 to 2009, Valerie was responsible for land-use planning and management of environmental programs. She has worked as a consultant in Aboriginal Forestry, including certification and spatial planning. Valerie has been involved within the International Boreal Conservation Campaign as a Senior Advisor since 2009 then Director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative of the IBCC since 2014 . In 2007, Valerie was awarded the James M. Kitz Institute of Forestry for her early-career contributions to the profession of forestry.

dlindsayDavid Lindsay became President and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) in September 2012.  He was most recently a senior Deputy Minister in the Government of Ontario in the portfolios of Energy and Infrastructure, Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, Natural Resources, and Tourism and Culture. Before this, he was President and CEO of Colleges Ontario.  Lindsay was founding President of the Ontario SuperBuild Corporation responsible for the infrastructure planning and privatization agenda of the Ontario government from 1999 to 2003.  For two years he was President and CEO of the Ontario Jobs and Investment Board.  From 1990 to 1997 he served as Principal Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Premier of Ontario. Lindsay is a Director of several private sector and not-for- profit Boards and is a Governor of McMaster University and a Fellow of the Queen’s University School of Policy Studies.  He has been a Director of the Ireland Park Foundation, the Ontario Innovation Trust, the World Wildlife Fund, the Canadian Tourism Commission, the Public Policy Forum and the Empire Club. A Graduate of Queen’s University School of Business (Commerce ’81), he is married to Charmaine and has two adult children, Tim and Sarah.

scharperDr. Stephen Beded Scharper (moderator) is associate professor at the School of the Environment and the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. He is also cross-appointed in the department of anthropology at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus, and is adjunct professor with the Toronto School of Theology.

A Senior Fellow of Massey College and a Fellow of Trinity College, Dr. Scharper holds a Masters in Theology from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from McGill University, where his thesis supervisor was Professor Gregory Baum.

Dr. Scharper’s research and teaching are in the areas of environmental ethics, worldviews and ecology, liberation theology, as well as nature and the city. His most recent book, For Earth’s Sake: Toward a Compassionate Ecology (Novalis 2013), explores the notion of how we are being called to develop an affective relationship with the natural world in light of contemporary ecological challenges. His other books include The Natural City: Re-envisioning Human Settlements (co-editor, University of Toronto Press), The Green Bible, co-written with his spouse, Hilary Cunningham, and Redeeming the Time: A Political Theology of the Environment (Continuum).

Embodying the values of “public scholarship” and a deep commitment to engaging with environmental issues, Dr. Scharper currently serves as a columnist for The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on TVO’s “The Agenda,” CTV News, VISION-TV, CityPulse 24, and CBC’s Counterspin as well as CBC Radio’s “Tapestry” and “Sounds Like Canada” and “Here and Now” and “The Current.”

He has also contributed over 500 reviews and articles to various academic and popularjournals, including Religious Studies Review, Worldviews, Environmental Philosophy, The University of Toronto Quarterly, Social Analysis, as well as Commonweal, America, Alternatives, The National Catholic Reporter, The Hour, The Montreal Gazette, The Walrus, and The Globe and Mail.

Formerly President of the Religious Education Association of the US and Canada, and editor with Orbis Books and Novalis, Dr. Scharper has taught at McGill University, Prescott College, the University of Waterloo, the University of Vermont, and the University of Notre Dame, where he held the John A. O’Brien Chair in Ethics as a Visiting Professor.

Providing a unique blend of the scholarly and the accessible in both his teaching and public speaking, Dr. Scharper has addressed and inspired a wide range of audiences and remains a much sought-after lecturer.

Sean-300x277Dr. Sean Thomas (PhD Harvard, 1993) has been preoccupied with the comparative biology of trees and forest responses to the intentional and accidental impacts of humans for some 25 years. Sean has been at the University of Toronto since 1999, and is currently appointed as Research Chair, Forests and Environmental Change and NSERC IRC in Biochar and Ecosystem Restoration at the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Thomas’ research focuses on how trees and forests respond to human impacts – intentional impacts through forest management, and unintentional impacts via local, regional, and global changes in the environment. In this effort, he tries to link an understanding of functional ecology and ecophysiology of trees (“how trees work”) to patterns of growth, mortality, recruitment, reproduction, at the population scale, to patterns community composition, and to ecoysystem processes, in particular carbon flux (“how forests work”). Sean Thomas’ lab is currently involved in projects in temperate and boreal forests in Canada, and tropical forests at a variety of sites.


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