Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2017-16



How local environmental stewardship diversifies democracy.




Yagatich, W; Galli, AM; Fisher, DR


Local Environment
23 ( 4 ) : 431 - 447




Although recent studies have suggested that environmental participation may be a countertrend to decreasing civic engagement in the United States, there are very few empirical studies that examine these claims. This paper studies participation in local environmental stewardship as such a countertrend. Using data collected from participants in the Watershed Stewards Academies (WSAs) of Maryland, we assess how these organisations are successful in mobilising individuals to be environmentally and civically engaged in their communities. We argue that hybrid organisations like the WSAs represent a countertrend to diminishing rates of civic engagement by offering citizens what a "paper-membership" cannot: the chance to lead their own environmental restoration projects, create tangible change in their communities, and network with other like-minded individuals. These environmental programmes serve to diversify democracy at the local level, providing a unique form of civic engagement and enriching the connections between individual citizens and their civic communities.

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