Date of Award

Fall 12-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Sherry Herron

Committee Chair Department

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Member 2

Dr. Omar Harvey

Committee Member 2 Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 3

Dr. David Patrick

Committee Member 3 Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 4

Dr. Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Studies and Research

Committee Member 5

Dr. Carol Dawson

Committee Member 5 Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

This study was conducted to analyze professors’ perceptions on the institutional redevelopment of brownfield sites into usable greenspaces. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2011) refers to brownfields as sites, (either facility/land) under public law § 107-118 (H.R. 2869), which are contaminated with a substance that is classified as a hazard or a pollutant. Usable greenspaces, however, are open spaces or any open piece of land that is undeveloped, has no buildings or other built structures, and is accessible to the public (EPA, 2015).

Open green spaces provide recreational areas for residents and help to enhance the beauty and environmental quality of neighborhoods (EPA, 2015). In addition, in a study conducted by Dadvand et al., (2015) exposure to green space has been associated with better physical and mental health among elementary school children, and this exposure, according to Dadvand, could also influence cognitive development. Because of the institutional context provided in these articles and other research studies, a sequential mixed-methods study was conducted that investigated the perceptions of professors towards the redevelopment of brownfields near their campuses.

This study provided demographics of forty-two college and university professors employed at two institutions in the state of Alabama, a southeastern region of the United States. Survey questions were structured to analyze qualitative data. The secondary method of analysis utilized descriptive statistics to measure the most important indicators that influences professors’ perceptions. The collection of quantitative data was adapted from an instrument designed by Kris Wernstedt, Lisa Crooks, and Robert Hersh (2003).

Findings from the study showed that professors are knowledgeable and aware of the sociological and economic challenges in low income communities where brownfields are geographically located. Pseudonyms are used for the three universities which were contacted. Findings also indicate that Eta-One University is a recipient of an EPA Region 4 grant that focuses on educating low income communities in areas where brownfield sites are located. Recommendations from the study will be provided to local, state, and federal government agencies resulting from this data on professors’ perceptions on the redevelopment of brownfield sites and the role in which universities and college professors play.

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