A toolkit For Analyzing Online Conversations for Solutions Based Policy Development


The primary objective of the research is twofold, first to gain an understanding of the vocabularies, speakers, interlinking of conversations, and associated topics/themes related to energy and climate change by geography in Canada, and secondly to ascertain what can draw from these narratives to bring them together and support solutions-based policy conversations. This will be accomplished by examining which energy companies are targeted (or not) for support or opposition, by whom, why, and to what effect. Cluster analysis will be used to examine emerging patterns. The results will be used to provide suggestions on how energy companies could revise their operational practices (footprint, reclamation/remediation, GHG emissions, water usage, visual impacts, etc.), stakeholder engagement, communication practices, and governance policies (ownership structures, regulatory structures), in order to support broader energy policy discussions in Canada, and beyond.


Multi-disciplined approach to a formal research structure leveraging expertise from engineering, computer science and business faculties and peer reviewed by the University of British Columbia, University of Ottawa, University of New Brunswick, Cornell University and Stanford University. The research plan has three phases:

Phase 1: Data Collection

Phase 2: Information Extraction

Phase 3: Clustering and Evolutionary Analysis

Canada West Foundation Project Leads:

Dr. Lianne Lefsrud, P.Eng. PhD

Dr. Lianne Lefsrud, P.Eng. is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Safety and Risk Management, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, at the University of Alberta. She uses mixed methods to study how institutional and new venture entrepreneurs use persuasive language and imagery to shape our conceptions of technology, the environment, and regulations. Specifically, her research examines methods of hazard identification and risk management, risk evaluation and social license to operate, and drivers of technology adoption in oil and gas, mining, pipelining, construction, agriculture, and railroading, among other industries.

As most risks are multi-disciplinary in nature, it has also motivated her academic approach: from an MSc in Environmental Engineering and Sociology (the first Engineering-Arts interdisciplinary degree at UAlberta), to a PhD in Strategic Management and Organization. Given her multi-disciplinary research, Dr. Lefsrud works with scholars in engineering, computer science, cognitive psychology, business, economics, English literature and film studies, medicine, and environmental sociology.

Professionally, her career spans two decades with senior roles in industry, consulting, and regulation. Prior to returning to academia, she was the Assistant Director Professional Practice with APEGA, an Assistant Director in operations with Canadian National Railway, and worked in construction and oil and gas. Before joining UofA, she was with the Erb Institute of Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. Besides doing internationally award-winning research, she also provides policy and strategy advice to government and industry. For more, see:, and Twitter: @lefsrud.

Dr. Joel Gehman, PhD

Dr. Joel Gehman ( is Professor of Strategic Management & Organization and the Alberta School of Business Chair in Free Enterprise at the University of Alberta. Additionally, he is associate director of the Canadian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility. His research examines the organization of concerns: the diverse ways organizations respond to grand challenges related to sustainability and values, and the role and impact of entrepreneurship, innovation, and institutions.

His research has examined diverse phenomena such as hydraulic fracturing and shale development, Certified B Corporations, crowdfunding, organizational codes of conduct, patenting, shareholder activism, corporate divestitures, financial crises, social license to operate, and energy transitions. Conceptually, his research has contributed insights related to values work, robust action strategies, contextual distinctiveness, technological exaptation, cultural entrepreneurship, and sustainability journeys. His research has been published in many of his field’s leading journals, such as Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Organization Studies, and Research Policy. Professor Gehman’s research has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Emerging Scholar Award from the Organizations and the Natural Environment Division of the Academy of Management and the Roland Calori Prize for the best paper published in Organization Studies. Since joining the University of Alberta,

Professor Gehman has been the principal investigator, co-investigator, or recipient of more than $5 million in grants and fellowships. Before becoming a professor, Gehman spent 13 years in industry as an entrepreneur, manager, and executive. He holds a PhD from the Pennsylvania State University and a BSc from Cornell University. Find him on Twitter @joelgehman.

Dr. Eleni Stroulia, PhD

Dr. Eleni Stroulia is a Greek and Canadian computer scientist whose research concerns artificial intelligence, social computing, smart buildings, the internet of things, and software engineering for real-world applications. She is a Professor in the Department of Computing Science, and the Project Director, Integrated Strategic Data Systems with the Faculty of Science, at the University of Alberta. From 2011-2016, she held the NSERC/AITF Industrial Research Chair on Service Systems Management, with IBM. In 2011, as a co-lead of the Smart-Condo team received the UofA Teaching Unit Award.

She has played leadership roles in the GRAND and AGE-WELL NCEs, the SAVI Strategic Network, and the DITA CREATE Network. In 2018 she received a McCalla professorship, and in 2019 she was recognized with a Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring. She has supervised more than 60 graduate students and PDFs, who have gone forward to stellar academic and industrial careers.

Since January 2020, she is the Director of the AI4Society Signature Area of the University of Alberta.

Dr. Denilson Barbosa, PhD

Dr. Denilson Barbosa is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computing Science at the University of Alberta. He earned a PhD from the University of Toronto in 2005 working on Web data management, and since then has worked on databases, the Web, information retrieval and natural language processing, with emphasis on information extraction from semi-structured and unstructured sources. Additionally, Dr. Barbosa was a principal investigator and the Leader of the Data Quality Theme of the NSERC Business Intelligence Network.

Dr. Barbosa served as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering (2015-2018) and Elsevier’s Computational Intelligence Journal (2015-2018) and was the Program Committee co-Chair of the 3rd IEEE International Conference on Data Science and Advanced Analytics, the 28th Canadian Conference on Artificial Intelligence, the 1st and 2nd ACM SIGMOD Workshop on Databases and Social Networks (co-located with SIGMOD 2011 and 2012), the 3rd International Workshop on Data Engineering Meets the Semantic Web (co-located with ICDE 2012), and the 5th International XML Database Symposium (co-located with VLDB 2007). He also served as an Associate Editor of SIGMOD Record from 2010 to 2014 and as the ACM SIGMOD Information Director and Web Editor of the Record from 2006 to 2012.

He is the recipient of an Alberta Ingenuity New Faculty Award, an IBM Faculty Award, the Best Paper Award at the 2010 IEEE Conference on Data Engineering and has supervised the recipients of the Best Undergraduate Poster Award at the 2012 ACM SIGMOD Conference. He was a Visiting Scientist at the Max-Planck Institute for Informatics, Germany from July 2014 to April 2015, and a Visiting Professor (BIT) at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy, during the Summer of 2008.