Sarah Breen

Bachelor of Arts, Geography - Lakehead University, 2006
Master of Arts, Geography - Memorial University, 2009


Supervisor: Dr. Sean Markey

Areas of research interest: sustainable development, infrastructure, power generation and transmission, regional development, New Regionalism, watershed management, public policy

Thesis title: From Staples to Sustainability: New Regionalism and the infrastructure deficit in rural Canada

Thesis website:

Thesis Description: Sarah’s doctoral research examines the relationships between infrastructure and rural resilience. Using a case study of rural drinking water systems, her project examines:

  • The relationships between drinking water systems and regional development;
  • The relationship between current approaches to managing drinking water systems and regional resilience; and
  • The potential of applying a new regionalism framework to drinking water systems.

Profile: Sarah began studying small-scale, community-owned power generation as part of an international field studies course in south-west China. This project sparked an interest in the role local resources can play in sustainable community development. This formed the basis of Sarah’s MA, which examined the use of community owned small hydro as a tool for sustainable community development. Following the completion of her Masters, Sarah held a position as an Environmental Planner and Project Manager where she focused on the planning and assessment of large scale infrastructure developments (e.g., power transmission and corporate social responsibility). This experience provoked questions surrounding the planning and revitalization of critical infrastructure and its links to sustainable development, which led Sarah to the PhD program at REM. Sarah is a member of the Canadian Association of Geographers and is a part of a team of researchers from across the country studying Canadian Regional Development.

Masters Thesis: Small Hydro as a tool for Sustainable Community Development in Rural Canada

Select Awards:
2012-2015 SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (PhD)
2011 Simons Foundation Doctoral Entrance Fellowship (PhD)
2009 Plan Canada Recognition Award (Masters)
Memorial University Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies (Masters)
2007-2008 SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship (Masters)

Selected Publications:
Breen, Sarah-Patricia, Markey, Sean, Daniels, Jen and Vodden Kelly. (In press). Mobilizing Place for Regional Collaboration and Development. In Place Peripheral: The Promise and Challenge of Place-Based Development in Rural and Remote Regions. ISER Books.
Markey, Sean, Breen Sarah-Patricia, Vodden, Kelley, and Daniels, Jen. (In press). Evidence of Place: Becoming a Region in Rural Canada. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.
Breen, Sarah-Patricia. (2013) Where are we and how did we get here? Drinking Water Infrastructure in the Kootenay Region of British Columbia. 2013 Initial Impressions Report.
Breen, Sarah-Patricia. (2012). Connecting a mountain archipelago: Regional development in the Kootenay Region of British Columbia. Canadian Regional Development: A Critical Review of Theory, Practice and Potentials 2011 Preliminary Findings Report. Retrieved from
Breen, Sarah-Patricia. 2010, ‘Community Owned Independent Power Production: Challenges and Opportunities Part 2 of 2′, Renewable Energy World North America, January/February 2010.
Breen, Sarah-Patricia. 2009, ‘Community Owned Independent Power Production: Challenges and Opportunities Part 1 of 2′, Renewable Energy World North America, September/October 2009.
Select Conferences and Presentations:
Breen, Sarah-Patricia and Minnes, Sarah. (2014). Regional revisions: a regional approach to managing drinking water. Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation’s New Realities, New Relationships. Prince George, BC, October 2014.
Markey, Sean, Breen, Sarah-Patricia, Vodden, Kelly, and Daniels, Jen. (2014). Evidence of Place: Becoming a Region in Rural Canada. Canadian Association of Geographers Conference, St. Catherine’s, ON, May 2014.
Breen, Sarah-Patricia and Markey, Sean. 2011, ‘Place-Based Development in Rural Regions’, North Atlantic Forum: Culture, Place & Identity at the Heart of Regional Development. St. John’s, Newfoundland. October 2011.
Breen, Sarah-Patricia. 2009 ‘Communities as Independent Power Producers: Challenges and Opportunities’, Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo: Community Renewable Energy: Market Challenges and Opportunities Session’. Las Vegas, Nevada. March 2009.
Breen, Sarah-Patricia. 2009 ‘Communities as Power Producers: The Case for Small Hydro’. Memorial Presents. St. John’s, NL. January 2009.