Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies

First Advisor

Bryce DuBois

Second Advisor

Emily Vogler

Third Advisor

Jesse Sayles


Key leaders of civic environmental stewardship organizations shape collaborative watershed governance. Individuals perceive and construct the watershed through past experiences, feeling, emotion, values, and practices. It is not well known how these individuals perceive and construct their own representations of the watershed and environmental stewardship practices. This thesis explored individuals past experiences, feelings, emotions, values, and practices in the Blackstone River watershed to a) examine the ways in which key leaders of civic environmental stewardship organizations represent the watershed b) understand how individuals think, feel, and engage in environmental stewardship practices and, c) reveal the congruences and incongruencies of individual stewards’ representations within a collaborative watershed governance context. Interviews were with individuals representing organizations involved with the Blackstone Watershed Collaborative. The interviews focused on human perception, meaning and identity in the context of post-industrial riverine landscapes. The outcomes of this project revealed that key leaders generally emphasize the watershed as a place of work, use, and home underpinned by scientific standards in watershed stewardship. My work provides insights to the shared knowledge and gaps that may exist within a collaborative watershed governance context and can inform participants, practitioners, and watershed managers in similar settings to promote diverse perspectives and practices related to watershed stewardship.


View exhibition online: Casey Merkle: How do you define the watershed?



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