Date of Award

Fall 2002

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Eleanor Abrams


Given the prominence of sense of place in new environmental education curricula, this study aims to strengthen the conceptual and empirical foundations of sense of place, and to determine how sense of place may be linked to environmentally responsible behavior. For this study, five commercial fishermen and five organic farmers from the New England Seacoast region participated in a series of in-depth phenomenological interviews and observations. The data was systematically coded in order to allow themes and categories to emerge. The results indicate that aspects of the existing conceptual framework of sense of place, such as place attachment, ecological knowledge, and public involvement, do in fact describe the relationship between people and place. However, the results also indicate that two conceptual elements---attention to social context and awareness of moral theory---are missing from the current conceptual framework in EE theory. These results suggest that the current framework should be expanded to emphasize the role of human and non-human communities: the development of a sense of place and the learning of environmentally responsible behavior must be situated within a social context. This study lends support to the view that for sense of place to move people to ethical action, it is crucial for them to recognize, and to participate in, a community of support and care.