Geodesign and the Expression of Environmental Values: A Mixed Methods Evaluation

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There is a stark contrast between professed environmental values and actual action taken to express those values. This ‘value-action gap’ limits the extent to which individuals enact both simple and collective actions to address critical and declining environmental trends ranging from global climate change to species loss and habitat degradation. While conceptual models positing individual and institutional approaches to overcome the value-action gap do exist, they minimize the complexity of socio-environmental challenges, on the one hand, or the importance of individual action, on the other. This dissertation evaluates an alternative approach to overcoming the value-action gap using a participatory form of environmental design and planning known as geodesign. Despite its apparent benefits, the geodesign approach remains under-theorized and largely unevaluated from the geographic perspective. Using a taxonomic review of geodesign practice and two case studies, this dissertation critically evaluates geodesign practice, identifies opportunities to improve its participatory characteristics, and positions the geodesign framework for use in participatory action research. The results show that the geographic concept of place and theory of place making can improve geodesign practice, account for its current limitations, and explain its hypothesized role in overcoming the value-action gap.