Resilient Youth in Stressed Environments (RYSE)


Resilient Youth in Stressed Environments (RYSE) is a multi-sited, 5 year, international research project, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), involves a collaboration of researchers from universities in Canada and South Africa and representatives from a broad range of non-governmental, governmental, and industry sectors. The study, led by Dr. Michael Ungar, Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia), was developed to study the resilience of young people in the context of oil and gas production, consumption and climate change.

RYSE aims to examine the biopsychosocial resilience of young people over time and its relationship with the resilience of ecological systems where there are disruptions—some positive, some negative—related to oil and gas production and the effects of climate change. The study involves two Canadian communities (Drayton Valley, Cambridge Bay) and a community in South Africa (Secunda). The project will evolve based on the priorities identified by youth researchers and participants in all communities.


The project launches 2017 with initial community and youth engagement in the Canadian research sites- Drayton Valley, Alberta and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Over the next year, the RYSE research team and the RbD Lab will be collaborating with youth in these communities, using a combination of participatory creative arts and play based research methods alongside interview and social mapping processes, to identify youth priorities related to health and wellness in their communities. Youth and adult engagement and feedback in the communities will inform the later stages of the project, which include resilience surveys, environmental mapping and stress biomarker data.


Dr. Cox is one of the principal co-applicants on the RYSE project, working in collaboration with Dr. Michael Ungar (Principal Investigator; Resilience Research Centre, Dalhousie University), Dr. Linda Theron (Co-Applicant, North West University, South Africa); Dr. Allyson Quinlan (Co-Applicant; Resilience Alliance) and a broad range of knowledge end users, academic and non-governmental co-applicants, and industry partners.


This project will examine the interactions between the psychological, social, and biological resilience of young people, and the resilience of their families, communities and the environmental systems in which they live. The 5 year project focuses on young people living in communities living with change, uncertainty and stress as a result of the economic boom and bust of oil and gas production, the impacts of climate change, and other positive and negative changes. This research will help to identify and enable protective processes that support young people’s health and wellbeing while also seeking to understand the factors that moderate or eliminate the adverse factors impacting resilience and wellbeing. The RYSE project will work in collaboration with youth to build their capacity as researchers, citizen scientists, and policy influencers.