First Advisor

Vivek Shandas

Term of Graduation

Spring 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Earth, Environment, & Society


Earth, Environment, & Society




Environmental protection -- Oregon -- Zumwalt Prairie -- Citizen participation, Grassland conservation, Agent (Philosophy), Place (Philosophy)



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 202 pages)


Shifting and often diminishing environmental conditions, due to climate change, resource loss, and ecosystem degradation, pose a significant concern to both social and ecological systems. The field of conservation science has attempted to address environmental threats through varying approaches, transitioning from fortress conservation and complete human exclusion to community-based and co-managed models which incorporate human actors and social dimensions in the conservation process. The latest iteration of conservation scholarship, place-based conservation, is deeply rooted in interdisciplinary, social scientific thinking, and calls for significant practitioner engagement with local knowledge, practices, social constructions, and place meanings. It is an approach which emphasizes situated socio-ecological conditions and capacities. Though place-based conservation holds great promise for inclusive, socially conscious, and ecologically effective practice, the field remains largely theoretical, and its effects have not been well studied through empirical research. This dissertation makes two notable contributions to the field of place-based conservation. Firstly, a novel boundary object framework is presented which can serve to guide research, and facilitate cross-disciplinary discussions among conservation scientists, bridging the gap between place-based theory and practice. Secondly, a conservation site, the Zumwalt Prairie and Preserve, is studied from three distinct angles: agency, sense of place, and knowledge. These studies elucidate key social dynamics influencing conservation behavior around the site and add empirical evidence to the field.


© 2021 Dana Elyse Hellman

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