Dr. John Sinclair

Professor and Acting Director

Natural Resources Institute
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canada R3T 2M6
Tel.: (204) 474-8374
Fax: (204) 261-0038
E-mail: john.sinclair@umanitoba.ca


B.A. (Hons) Law and Geography concentration, Carleton University, 1984.
M.A. (With distinction), Geography, Carleton University, 1986.
Ph.D. Geography, University of Waterloo, 1991.


Dr. Sinclair has been with the Natural Resources Institute since 1991 after the completion of his Ph.D. in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo. Following his long-standing involvement in non-government initiatives, particularly related to sustainability issues, the theme of civic engagement in resource and environmental governance is well reflected in both his research and teaching. John teaches courses in environmental assessment, environmental governance, individual and social learning in resource and environmental management and thesis research methods. As well, he lends his considerable field research and teaching experience to the NRI field seminar courses. He is very active both locally and nationally with a number of environmental non-government organizations and professional associations, such as The Green Action Center, the Canadian Environment Network's Environmental Assessment Caucus, which he has chaired on two occasions, and the Multi-Interest Advisory Committee on Federal EA struck my the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. John currently chairs the University of Manitoba Sustainability Committee, which is implementing the University’s Sustainability Action Plan. The University of Manitoba has recognized Dr. Sinclair's outreach activities in the community with awards such as the Campbell Outreach Award.

Research Interests

Dr. Sinclair's main research interest focuses on community involvement in, and learning through, processes of resource and environmental decision-making that aim to ensure our actions are more sustainable. This research meshes well with societal shifts from government to governance and toward discursive democracy that promote the meaningful engagement of citizens in deliberative processes of decision-making.

In the area of environmental assessment (EA), recently published works have explored various aspects of public involvement and learning as well as approaches to next generation EA. Through current research grants, such as from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) the role of learning as a critical component of decision making is being considered. This includes analysis of SSHRC funded research that is considering new governance approaches in various resource sectors, particularly water and forest management – including the urban forest. The results will be related to the potential for transformative and social learning through decision making that place a premium on deliberative processes. This work is currently being conducted in Canada, Asia, and Africa.

John's work in the Indian Himalayas is supported by the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute and SSHRC and considers the roles of the public, private and civic sectors in environmental management in mountainous regions. SSHRC is also supporting John’s work with the aim of advancing new learning-oriented frameworks of inclusive, participatory resource and environmental governance, with a focus on tools and proven practices for participation and learning with potential to direct us along a more sustainable path. His work in Kenya considers the implications of community-based approaches to EA and other forms of decision making on sustainability. He is involved in two SSHRC funded projects related to EA, one considering the approaches to incorporating climate change considerations in EA and the second looking for best ways to implement next generation EA.

Recent Publications

  • Sinclair, A.J. and A.P. Diduck. 2016. Public participation in Canadian environmental assessment: enduring challenges and future directions. In Environmental Impact Assessment: Practice and Participation. Third edition, K.S. Hanna (ed.). Toronto: Oxford University Press, pp. 65-95.
  • Lobe, K. and Sinclair, A.J. 2016. Environmental Assessment: Manitoba Approaches. In Environmental Impact Assessment: Practice and Participation. Third edition, K.S. Hanna (ed.). Toronto: Oxford University Press, pp. 182-197.
  • Fitzpatrick P.J. and Sinclair, A.J. 2016. Multi-jurisdictional environmental assessment. In Environmental Impact Assessment: Practice and Participation. Third edition, K.S. Hanna (ed.). Toronto: Oxford University Press, pp. 354-372.
  • Sinclair, A.J., Diduck, A.P. and McCandless, M. 2015. A comparative case study of small hydro development in the Indian Himalaya.
  • In A.K. Dutt, A.G. Noble, F.J. Costa, S.K. Thakur, R. Thankur & H.S. Sharma (Eds.), Spatial Diversity and Dynamics in Resources and Urban Development (Volume I). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. pp. 361-378.
  • Sinclair, A.J., Diduck, A.P. and Vespa, M. 2015. “Public Participation in Sustainability Assessment: Essential Elements, Practical Challenges and Emerging Directions.”
  • In A. Morrison-Saunders, J. Pope, and A. Bond, eds, Handbook of Sustainability Assessment. Camberley, UK: Edward Elgar. pp. 349-375.
  • Sinclair A.J. and Doelle, M. 2015. “Environmental assessment in Canada: Encouraging decisions for sustainability.” In Resource and Environmental Management in Canada: Addressing Conflict and Uncertainty, Fifth edition, B. Mitchell (ed.). Toronto: Oxford University Press, pp. 112–141.
  • Sinclair, A.J., Doelle, M., and Duinker, P.N. 2017. Looking up, down and sideways: reconceiving cumulative effects assessment as a mindset. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 62(1): 183-194.
  • Sinclair, A.J. and Diduck, A.P. 2017. Reconceptualizing public participation in environmental assessment as EA civics. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 62(1): 174-182.
  • Zurba, M., Diduck, A.P., and Sinclair, A.J. 2016. First Nations and industry collaboration for forest governance in northwestern Ontario, Canada. Forest Policy and Economics, 69: 1-10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2016.04.003
  • Walker, H., Spaling, H. and Sinclair, A.J. 2016. Towards a home-grown approach to strategic environmental assessment: adapting practice and participation in Kenya, Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 34(3): 186-198.
  • Parkins, J.R., Dunn, M., Reed, M.J. and Sinclair A.J. 2016. “Forest governance as neoliberal strategy: A comparative case study of the Model Forest Program in Canada”. Journal of Rural Studies, 45(1): 270-278
  • Wheeler, M.J., Sinclair, A.J., Fitzpatrick, P.J., Diduck, A.P. and Davidson-Hunt, I.J. 2016. Place-based inquiry's potential for encouraging public participation: Stories from the Common Ground Land in Kenora, Ontario, Society and Natural Resources, 29(10): 1230-1245.
  • Diduck, A.P. and Sinclair, A.J. 2016. Small hydro development in the Indian Himalaya: Implications for impact assessment Reform. Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 18(2): 24 pp. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1142/S1464333216500150
  • Moquin, R., Diduck, A.P., Sinclair, A.J. and Davidson-Hunt, I.J. 2016. Cultivating community through gardening in Kenora, Ontario. Canadian Food Studies, 3(2): 70-103.
  • Gibson, R.B., Doelle, M., and Sinclair A.J. 2016. Fulfilling the promise: Basic components of next generation environmental assessment. Journal of Environmental Law and Practice, 29(1): 257-283.
  • Robson, J., Sinclair, A.J., and Diduck, A.P. 2015. A study of institutional origins and change in a Canadian Urban Commons. International Journal of the Commons, 9(2): 698-719. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ijc.548
  • Egunyu, F., Reed, M.G., and Sinclair, A.J. 2016. Learning through new approaches to forest governance: Evidence from Harrop-Proctor community forest, Canada. Environmental Management. 57(4): 784-797. DOI: http://10.1007/s00267-015-0652-4
  • Quinn, L. and Sinclair, A.J. 2016. Undressing transformative learning: The roles of instrumental and communicative learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 66(3): 199-218.
  • Assuah, A., Sinclair, A.J. and Reed, M.G. 2016. Action on sustainable forest management through community forestry: The case of the Wetzin’kwa community forest corporation. The Forestry Chronicle, 92(2): 232-244.
  • Moyer, J., Sinclair A.J. and Quinn, L.J. 2016. Transitioning to a more sustainable society: unpacking the role of the learning-action nexus. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 35(3): 313-329.
  • Ordóñez, C., Duinker, P.N., Sinclair, A.J., Beckley, T. and Diduck, J. 2016. Public values of urban forests in Canada using a sidewalk-interception survey: results for Fredericton, Halifax, and Winnipeg. Arboriculture and Urban Forestry, 42(1): 26-57.
  • Moyer, J., and Sinclair A.J. 2016. Stoking the dialogue on the domains of transformative learning theory: Insights from research with faith-based organizations in Kenya. Adult Education Quarterly, 66(1): 39-56.
  • Walker, H., Sinclair, A.J., and Kumnerdpet, W. 2015. Learning through participation in joint management committee for reservoir-level irrigation governance in Thailand. International Journal of Water Governance, 3(2): 17-36.
  • Sherpa, Y, Sinclair, A.J., and Henley, T. 2015. ‘Stepping on the heads of our Gods’: Community action and learning in response to tourism development in Manali, India. International Journal of Social Ecology and Sustainable Development, 6(2): 40-56.

Professional Activities

  • Member, (Past Chair) Canadian Environment Network - Environmental Assessment Caucus
  • Member, Multi-Interest Advisory Committee on Federal EA, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
  • Member, Environment and Resources Working Group, Canadian Association of Geographers
  • Member, Orals Sub-Committee, Canon Envirothon
  • Member, Environmental Studies Association of Canada
  • Past President (founding member of the Board of Directors), Manitoba Model Forest Inc.
  • Member, International Association of Impact Assessment
  • Member, Asian Studies Association
  • Member, International Association for the Study of Common Properties
  • Chair, University of Manitoba Sustainability Committee
  • Editorial Board Appointments – Alternatives Journal – Environmental Impact Assessment Review