Cameron Owens

Cameron Owens
Associate Teaching Professor
Critical sustainability studies; community-engaged learning

PhD (Simon Fraser)

Office: DTB B210

Dr. Cam Owens (PhD Simon Fraser University) is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Geography department at UVic. His role is a tenure track position dedicated to teaching excellence. Currently he does not supervise graduate students but is potentially available to serve on a committee.


My research interests surround the following three themes: land use conflict and decision making; theories of place and sustainable cities.

I am developing a robust empirical program investigating the evolving political context within which land-use decision-making takes place as well as a normative theoretical program that, informed by a critical pragmatic attempt to transcend both objectivism and relativism, explores opportunities for negotiating intense land use conflicts. 

Regionally, I am invested in understanding development struggles in the local, BC context and asking questions about the politics of environmental assessment, the justification and measurement of “green” development, First Nations justice and struggles in both rural and urban contexts. My dissertation “Contesting sustainability in the Valley of the Grizzly Spirit” explored these themes grounded in a case study of the controversial Jumbo Glacier Resort proposed for an uninhabited valley in southeast BC. 

As a second major research area, I am interested in theories of place. I am interested in the strategic use of “place” in development conflicts, in indigenous and settler understandings of “place”, sense of place (and threats to sense of place) in coastal and island communities and linkages between sense of place and community resilience…

… which provides a segue into discussing the third major area of interest.  I keenly explore the constraints and opportunities for inspiring genuinely resilient and sustainable cities.

In particular, I am interested in radical planning theory and practice around such themes as citizen engagement, genuine progress indicators, inclusive public space, mixed-use development, sustainable consumption, relocalization and local-business licensing, bike and pedestrian transportation, local food and urban growth management.


I currently teach courses in human environmental geography (GEOG 209 Environmental Management and GEOG 391 Environmental Assessment), in regional geography (GEOG 219 BC and GEOG 306 Canada) and in cultural geography (GEOG 355 Coastal Communities). I also lead international field schools including the Cascadia Sustainability Field School exploring innovation and activism in the cities of the Pacific Northwest.


Owens, C., Soutedehnia, M. and Erickson-McGee, P. (2015) ‘Teaching and learning sustainability in the field: Student reflections on the Cascadia Sustainability Field School’ Journal of Geography in Higher Education (accepted for publication)

Holden, M., Scerri, A. and Owens, C. (2013) ‘More publics, more problems: The productive interface between the pragmatic sociology of critique and Deweyan pragmatism’ Contemporary Pragmatism 10(2) 1-24

Holden, M., and Owens, C. (2009) ‘Lessons from a community-based process in regional sustainability indicator selection’ In J. Sirgy, R. Phillips, and D. Rahtz (Eds.) Community Quality-of-Life Indicators: Best Cases IV 59-80 Blacksburg, VA: International Society for Quality-of-Life

Owens, C.  (2009) ‘Challenges in evaluating livability in Vancouver, Canada’ Revisiting Urban Planning: Global Report on Human Settlements 2009 Nairobi, Kenya: UN Human Settlements Programme

Owens, C. (2005) ‘An integral approach to sustainable consumption and waste reduction’ World Futures: Journal of General Evolution 61(1&2) 96-109