Creating a sustainability discourse in a difficult policy climate: a case study of North East Texas

holman3_238x158Sustainability and ‘quality of life’ as planning concepts have begun to gain ground outside the first wave of cities who brought the concepts forward in the United States to smaller, perhaps more unexpected municipalities.

The problem for planners is that sustainability is a socially constructed concept and local context can shape and influence its definition, thereby potentially lessening its strength as a guiding principle for development.

Many articles have shown how sustainability is adopted in policy climates that are favourable to the concept and an increasing number of articles have examined sustainability policy over a broad spectrum of medium-sized US cities.

This research will examine how the concept of sustainability has been articulated through local land use policy in the North East Texas region, which is itself contextually interesting, having an economy historically based on oil and an environment blighted by poor air quality.

The goal is to expose and illuminate the discourse around sustainability at the local level and understand how it is articulated as policy in a difficult policy climate thus filling a gap in the literature that explores sustainability in ‘hard to reach’ places.

The research will examine the region covered by the East Texas Council of Governments. It will examine planning policy based in eight major cities located in the region via a set of sustainability criteria and will interview planners, councillors and green action groups in the two largest cities.

Staff member: Nancy Holman

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