Throughout ENVS 350, we have put a large amount of work into developing a framework that will help else move through our thesis. In a general sense, my thesis is interested in looking and water level variation and flood regimes along the Great Lakes. As part of this framework to examine my thesis, I created the framing question: How Should Communities Interact with Water? This is a very broad question that I think gets at the heart of the problem at hand; how communities want to live with their nearby water in a world of growing flood risk.
I included a number of key concepts; “Wicked environmental problems” is a contemporary concept that describes when there is a “contested terrain” that arises out of contending, incompatible certainties. While these voices disagree, they all bring a valuable perspective, “each distilling elements of wisdom and experience that are missed by the others” (Thompson, 2018). There are multiple... More, Resilience, and In our current moment, discrete boundaries and truths that once felt solid are now shaken. After the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election, the usage of the term ‘post-truth,’ (that objective facts have little influence on public opinion) spiked, warranting selection for the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the... More. I feel like these three concepts do a really good job of guiding my future work by framing the social and ecological complexities of the Great Lakes and the communities that depend on them. Wicked "Environment" is a word so embedded in environmental discourse and scholarship that it has effectively disappeared. We all know what the environment is—or do we? And what do our unexamined assumptions about environment mean for how we approach environmental issues? A careful examination of the word might lead us to... More Problems will also be a really important way to break these complexities down and try to create an adequate solution to the growing flood risk. Wicked Environmental Problems will also guide the process of modeling and comparing that I plan to do by giving me the necessary modeling framework to (hopefully) adequately identify all stakeholders and their competing needs.
Resilience can both define the ability of communities to survive change, as well as the ability of lake systems to survive similar change, and will provide information about the social capital of different stakeholders throughout the Great Lakes and how these social capitals will influence the different needs and different potential actions that can be taken to reduce flood risk. Lastly, Hybridity helps to focus my examination of the socio-ecological nature of the Great Lakes system and push back against the land/water dichotomy that is so damaging to communities that exist in floodplains
Moving forward, I would like to start wrapping up my reading during break and start deciding on situated contexts. I know that one area I want to study is Door County, WI, but I am not positive what areas I want to focus on other than that. I think examining another community near the Great Lakes would be valuable to compare efforts. I also would like to examine an area somewhere further away for a diverse understanding of strategies. One area that I may potentially examine is Japan, as they have a deep history of flood management and will likely have countless unique strategies that may potentially be useful for other communities (though the specific contexts of these different areas might make this type of modeling difficult). Beyond my situated context, I also would like to plan interviews with land-use and community-based organizations that are at the forefront of implementing these changes. These interviews will give me the opportunity to pick the brains of experts at the forefront of these management efforts and see what efforts they have taken, what has worked and why, and hopefully provide potential new pathways with the knowledge I have gained from looking at other contexts.
Attached below is my framework presentation that goes further into depth about what I have written here.