Ann Dale

I am interested in what makes communities thrive rather than simply survive, and the production of useful knowledge for Canadian communities to transition to more sustainable development paths. I am also deeply committed to novel research dissemination methods and thus experiment very heavily with the use of social media and other community-based tools. I have worked on and led diverse interdisciplinary teams on climate change adaptation and mitigation, social capital and network formation, human agency, biodiversity policy, long-term integrated planning and strategies, as well as governance for sustainable development. Although a full-time core faculty member of Royal Roads since 2000, and its first Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Community Development, I live in Ottawa and take the ‘long flight’ regularly to RRU. I have a PhD in Natural Resource Science from McGill University, an MA in Public Administration from Carleton University and a BA in Psychology from Carleton. I will be launching a new integrated virtual platform in the Fall, called Changing the Conversation, working in partnership as an Executive in Residence 1125@Carleton University.


Current and Recent Research Grants

The Climate Change Imperative: Changing Current Development Paths, Principal Investigator

A three-year SSHRC funded project, in collaboration with co-investigators SFU, UBC and Waterloo Universities, and 14 research partners from across the country. A coherent theory of development path change is required to understand complex dynamics of community innovation on climate change. Examining local climate change action has potential to yield crucial insights about conditions under which development paths can be transformed, and key actions associated with such a shift. In contrast to responding anew to each and every crisis, transforming development paths changes the rules of the game, such that both emissions and vulnerability have the potential to be dramatically reduced at the local level and for other scales of government. This project explores the question: Are climate innovations at the local scale resulting in transformative shifts in underlying development pathways in BC that are transferable to other communities? Research will contribute to understanding transformative change dynamics by investigating what policy, technology, and network innovations are occurring in BC municipalities, what the common drivers and barriers to action are, and what role knowledge mobilization and social learning play in summoning action.

Places + Spaces, Principal Investigator

A two year CFI funded research project with two private sector partners, Sustainability Solutions Group and whatifTechnologies. This project will develop a tool for communities to assess alternative development pathways, framing these pathways with respect to levers (policy options, investment choices in social and physical infrastructure) and impacts (community wellbeing, resource consumption and financial viability). The 'engine' of this tool - which traces the complex relationships between levers and impacts - is an integrated systems simulation model of the community incorporating community-specific data and reflecting community-specific policies and scenarios. The tool uses a platform developed through decades of research and development in the area of socio-economic, natural resource and urban land use models, and will be brought to the community level by a team of experienced sustainability analysts, modelers and academics.

Solutions Agenda

This two-year research project is a researcher / practitioner partnership with Sustainability Solutions Group. The project brings together this research team with the key actors from three leading-edge case studies around the following issues—food security, multi-functional spaces, energy security, the cooperative movement, rural revitalization, mental health, the future of work, spatial justice and waste. Eleven real-time on-line dialogues (e-Dialogues) will be led over the next two years, starting in January 2013 and ending December 2014. The final outcome will be the publication of The Solutions Agenda in January 2015, that compliments three previous policy documents — A Policy Agenda for Canadian Municipalities (2011), Action Agenda for Rethinking Growth and Prosperity (2012), and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation: An Action Agenda for BC Decision-Makers (2013).

National Municipal Adaption Project , co-investigator, with Kevin Hanna, University of British Columbia (Okanagan), SSHRC funding

Climate change has become the chief global environmental issue. The climate change discussion has grown from accepting the science and thinking about attenuation to acknowledging that we now have to adapt and plan for environmental change. The adaptation imperative requires new and novel approaches to planning and infrastructure development and it requires leadership and innovation in governance. Local governments are often most responsible for infrastructure and land use planning and will play a central role in shaping the response to adaptation. There is a growing acknowledgement that adaptation and resiliency strategies developed and implemented at the local level are essential for supporting sustainable infrastructure, adaptive land use planning, and the continued provision of the broad range of services that local governments supply.

Understanding Agriburbia, co-investigator with Lenore Newman, University of the Fraser Valley, SSHRC funding

As cities continue to expand, the rural/urban fringe presents a fascinating site for geographic study; competition for space creates extremely complex landscapes of interwoven and conflicting uses. In recent years the desire to preserve peri-urban farmland has led to increased interest in land use regimes that either attempt to preserve agricultural capacity explicitly or to protect farmland through the discouragement of sprawl. The resulting agriburban zones, defined as suburban forms in which agriculture plays a significant role, are of increasing importance as a site of local food production, of affordable housing on the urban fringe, and of settlement regions for migrants from agrarian backgrounds. The impact of the spread of agriburban regions, however, is poorly understood.


  • 2014 Paz Buttedahl CUFA Distinguished Academic Career Award
  • Canada Council of the Arts, Molson Prize for the Social Sciences, 2013
  • Bissett Alumni Award for Distinctive Contributions to the Public Sector, 2009
  • Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Community Development, 2004-2014
  • Trudeau Fellow, 2001-2004
  • Policy Research Initiative Award for Outstanding Research Contribution to Public Policy, 2001

Selected Publications and Presentations


Dale, A., B. Duschenko and P. Robinson. 2012. Urban Sustainability: Reconnecting Space and Place. Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Dale, A. and J. Onyx. (eds) 2005. A Dynamic Balance: Social Capital and Sustainable Community Development. Vancouver: UBC Press

Cote, R.; J. Tansey and A. Dale. (eds). 2005. Industrial Ecology: A Question of Design? Vancouver: UBC Press

Dale, A. 2001. At the Edge: Sustainable development in the 21st Century. Vancouver: UBC Press

Pierce, J. and A. Dale (eds). 1999. Sustainability, Development, and Communities across Canada. Vancouver:  UBC Press

Dale, A. and J. Robinson (eds). 1996. Achieving Sustainable Development. Vancouver: UBC Press


Dale, A., L. Newman, & R. Newell. (in press). Patterns of our Footsteps: Rhythms, diversity, and topophilia in urban landscapes. International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

Lyotier, K. & A. Dale. (submitted). Agency: Characteristics and practice. Canadian Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Newell, R. & A. Dale (submitted). Social Media and Research: Mobilizing Knowledge and Building On-line Community. The Social Science Journal

Newell, R. & A. Dale. (in press). Meeting the climate change challenge (MC3): The role of the internet in climate change research dissemination and knowledge mobilization. Climate Change Communication & the Internet

Newell, R. & A. Dale. (2014). Mapping the complexities of on-line dialogue: An analytical model. Forum: Qualitative Social Research 15 (2),

Burch, S., A. Shaw, A. Dale and J. Robinson. (2014). Triggering transformative change: A development path approach to climate response in communities. Climate Policy, DOI 10.1080/14693062.2014.876342

Dale, A. (2013). Agency: Individual ‘Fit’ and Sustainable Community Development. Community Development Journal, doi:10.1093/cdj/bst055

Dale, A. & L. Newman. 2010. All things counter, original, spare, strange: Why are we so bad at difference? Canadian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, 1(1): 38-43

Dale, A. & J. Sparkes. 2011. The ‘agency’ of sustainable community development. Community Development, 46(4): 476-492

Dale, A., C. Ling & L. Newman. 2010. Community vitality: the role of community-level resilience adaptation and innovation in sustainable development. Sustainability 2(1): 215-231, doi:10.3390/su2010215

Dale, A., L. Newman & C. Ling. 2010. Facilitating trans-disciplinary research teams through on-line collaboration. The International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 11(1): 36-48

Dale, A. & L. Newman. 2009. Sustainable development for some: “green” urban development and affordability. Local Environment 14(7): 669-683

Dale, A. & Newman, L. 2008. Social capital: A necessary and sufficient condition. Community Development Journal, doi:10.1093/cdj/bsn028

Dale, A., C. Ling,. & L. Newman, 2008. Does place matter? Sustainable community development in three Canadian communities. Ethics, Place, & Environment, doi:10.1080/13668790802559676


Dale, A., A. Dallimore, R. Kool, C. Ling, M. Dodd, M. Noble and L. King. Notes from the Field: From Sea, to Land to Sky, to the Classroom. Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences, June 3rd, 2013

Dale, A., R. Newell, D. Adams and D. Anton. Social Media: An Exploration in Research Dissemination. Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences, June 3, 2013

Dale, A., K. Hanna and L. Edward. Science, Society and Policy. Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences, June 4th,, 2013

Dale, A., K. Hanna, C. Ling, L. King, A. Shaw and R. Newell. 2013. The Potential of Local and National Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation for Transforming Development Paths. Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences, June 4th, 2013

Hanna, K., A. Dale, P. Filion, Z. Khan, C. Ling, K. Rahaman, and M. Seasons. Policy uncertainty and planning for adaptation: Canadian local government experiences. European climate Change Adaptation Conference, Hamburg, March 2013

Dale, A. Community Vitality: Dynamics and Characteristics. Spaces and Flows: An International Conference on Urban and Extra-Urban Studies, November 17-18, Prado, Italy, 2011

Dale, A. Conference Speaker. Understanding How Social and Technical Innovation Transform Complex Problem Domains-the Link to Policy Institutions. University of Waterloo, March 5-6, 2010

Dale, A. Expert Panelist. Building Municipal Infrastructure: A Critical Conversation. Carleton University, February 25, 2010