Building Sustainable Social Infrastructures in CommunitiesEPA Grant Number: FP916981
Title: Building Sustainable Social Infrastructures in Communities
Investigators: Rogers, Shannon H.
Institution: University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
EPA Project Officer: Jones, Brandon
Project Period: September 1, 2008 through August 31, 2011
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2008) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships
This work seeks to measure interacting physical and social infrastructures in communities, with an emphasis on the social fabric. Through a community based research approach, the goal is to create a framework for planners, decision makers, and citizens that would allow them to create more sustainable communities.
This research proposes a multi-method approach to understanding the creation of social capital in development as well as the functioning of decision processes that lead to development outcomes in communities. Much of social capital data is collected through survey tools and interview processes. This research proposes to use case studies of communities in Northern New England. Case study selection will focus on identifying communities that are on the cusp of physical form change (whether that be through new development that often follows the expansion of transportation infrastructure such as in the case of the I-93 widening) or redevelopment (which often takes place as old mill towns switch industry types). Social capital, transportation behavior, and the built environment will be investigated at the community scale by focusing on towns and neighborhoods within the towns. Specifically, a baseline social capital and transportation behavior survey will be administered to each of the case study communities. A series of key informant interviews will be conducted with community officials and decision makers in order to aid the development of the survey tool and understand the ways in which planning decisions are made and implemented.
Information gathered from the interviews and surveys about communities’ social capital will be used to inform the development of a broader planning tool for local decision makers. This information will be added to data on other physical and engineering measures of sustainable communities in a framework that utilizes geographic information systems. Better decision-making and land use planning will lead to reduced pollution in the air, water, and on land.