Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Leslie North (Director), Dr. Jeanine Huss, Dr. Jun Yan

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Decades of scientific inquiry have conveyed evidence in support of sustainability efforts to mitigate some of the greatest challenges and dilemmas facing modern and future societies. The solutions to these dilemmas may not be achievable in the short-term, yet, through increased public participation in sustainable community development, smallscale, localized solutions can be obtained. This preliminary research explored the influence of Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) story map designs on participation in sustainability-related activities among individuals who expressed interest in sustainable lifestyles. Specifically, this exploratory study was designed to demonstrate the applicability of interactive web geographic information systems (GIS) applications as platforms for promoting experiential learning and improved public participation in targeted sustainability-related activities. Web GIS applications were produced using multiple Esri story map design templates to visualize the sustainability-related features (e.g., Farms & Food, Shops & Services, Groups) of Skagit County, Washington; Barron County, Wisconsin; and Warren County, Kentucky. Story map applications were distributed electronically in the study site locations using social media, email disbursement, and website placement. After viewing the story map, research participants completed a survey regarding their preferences among the story map designs and their current participation in sustainability initiatives or activities. Completed surveys from 104 respondents were analyzed to begin to better understand participant opinions of the story map designs and the influences of these designs on participation in sustainability related activities. While more survey data are needed to understand fully the influence of story maps on participation in sustainability-related activities, participants in this study indicated that story map applications can increase accessibility to sustainability-related information and enhance the likelihood of participation in future sustainability-related activities. Of the four story map designs evaluated as part of this exploratory study, the data suggest the shortlist design may be the best suited to inform and encourage participation in sustainability-related activities.


Education | Geography | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Social and Behavioral Sciences