Date of Award

12-10-2019

Semester of Degree

December

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Environmental Science

Department

Environmental Science, Division of

Major Professor

Elizabeth Vidon

CO-MP

Andrea Parker

Steering Committee Member

Sarah Pralle

Steering Committee Member

Paul Hirsch

Steering Committee Member

Theresa Selfa

Abstract

Progress on environmental issues in the U.S. relies on governmental action. However, our partisan political system currently produces intense divides and debate, stalling progress on environmental protections. This project explores how this trend emerged in the 2018 congressional midterm election in the NY-24 district. Through semi-structured interviews with politically active people in the NY-24 district, an intimate understanding of the connections drawn between political subjectivity and environmental values reveals that while conservation is not unimportant, it is not a key or defining issue for many voters in the election. A content analysis of election coverage from local newspapers supports this idea, as the environment was a prevalent issue but far from the predominant issue in the coverage. The conclusions of this thesis demonstrate that a shift in framing the environment on behalf of politicians, the media, and environmentalists is necessary to bring focus and true change for environmental problems.

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