As a member of the inaugural graduating class of the Faculty of Environment’s Bachelor of Knowledge Integration (KI) program, transcending disciplinary boundaries is all in a day’s work for Eric Kennedy (BKI ’12).
Since graduating from the University of Waterloo, Eric completed an MSc and PhD with the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University. Eric generated an extensive publication record during his graduate studies and co-edited a book called The Rightful Place of Citizen Science. Since then, he has pursued high-impact work that directly addresses how best to manage natural hazards and socio-environmental crises in Canada and across the world. Today he is an assistant professor of Disaster and Emergency Management at York University.
Eric’s research helps emergency managers make better decisions and communities better prepare for the worst. His work has been recognized and supported through numerous fellowships, scholarships and awards, including the Equinox Fellowship with the Waterloo Global Science Initiative, for which he was selected as a top 30 leader on global education.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eric has led several initiatives supporting the pandemic response. Thanks to funding from the Social Science & Humanities Research Council, he has been tracking the social and human impacts of the coronavirus outbreak and advising federal and provincial government policy. In addition, Eric has supported emergency managers like the Public Health Agency of Canada with critical data about how their communities are being affected and public support for different interventions.
Eric is passionate about mobilizing research to support community needs. He founded the Collaboration on Emergency Management, Preparedness, and Policy Research lab to train students in community-engaged, collaborative research methods that help communities become more prepared for natural hazards.
When not in the classroom, Eric can often be found in emergency operations centres or disaster zones, researching how to improve emergency decision-making. He is also the founder and director of the Forum on Science, Policy, and Society, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building non-partisan public service capacity in Canada. Through this group, he runs a training program (Science Outside the Lab) for students seeking to learn how to connect their academic interests with public service opportunities. Recently he was awarded over $100,000 from the Government of British Columbia to extend these programs to Canada’s west coast.
In his free time, Eric volunteers his expertise with several organizations. He helps to advise community-level climate change adaptation across Europe and is working with a major insurance company to develop ways to support household preparedness. Closer to home, he volunteers with an animal rescue – most recently fostering a litter of nine puppies and their rescued stray mother while recovering and being adopted.