Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Cunningham, Phyllis M.||Gajanayake, Jaya (Professor of education)

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Chicago (Ill.)--Environmental quality--Citizen participation; Environmental ethics--Illinois--Chicago (Ill.)


This dissertation documented how the residents of the west side of Chicago explored environmental problems and developed their own solutions to the problems of asthma, lead, and brownfields. Austin, Humboldt Park, and Greater Lawndale are the three west side communities that were discussed throughout the research. The objectives were to answer the questions: (1) how did people on the west side collaborate in solving problems that surfaced during the Environmental Subcommittee roundtable meetings; (2) how did they analyze the problems and come up with solutions; (3) what knowledge was produced by the citizens of the west side on “Lead,” “Asthma,” and “Brownfields” the three areas identified as posing the most environmental danger; and (4) what was the nature of the transformation that occurred? Methodology involved collecting data from approximately one hundred people, consisting of community residents, CBOs, Congressman Davis, and volunteers to determine how the west side community solved environmental problems. Data were presented through five Action Studies. Action Study 1 illustrated how people recognized illegal dumping problems and the actions they took to demand the government end Operation Silver Shovel. Action Study 2 demonstrated how a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis served as a source of community evaluation prior to problem solving. Action Study 3 showed what happened when people realized they had the power to make national governmental officials come to their neighborhood to address environmental health problems. Action Study 4 documented how involving teenagers in implementing community solutions can lead to a positive outcome for the young adults and the overall community. The people in Action Study 5 utilized collective community knowledge to produce a videotape on asthma awareness. Findings indicated that people were transformed through their own actions. They became more aware of their physical surroundings and their personal and collective capabilities as they reflected on events that caused the problems to occur. They experienced a power shift from receivers of information to producers of knowledge. The research provided insight into different PR methods and served as a reminder that community ultimately will decide which method is best for a particular situation.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [154]-160)


ix, 185 pages, map




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type