Date of Award

Spring 2004

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Mimi Larsen Becker


Theoretical constructs of social capital and sustainable community development are examined through the lens of the lived experience of a small Vermont town. A case study of the community's land use planning history from the 1960's through to the present assesses the actions and relationships among individuals and institutions engaged in civic efforts to achieve environmental, economic, and social balance in development decision-making. The role of a land trust and its members as a community system changing variable---a self-organized institutional response to the concerns of citizens to the unsustainable development of their community---is evaluated. Findings describe the process whereby social capital is converted into civic action to direct a community's path towards a sustainable future and provides recommendations for supporting the process of change.