Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. James G. Hougland


This dissertation examines the question of how communities understand their risk related to global economic and environmental problems and how communities respond to those risks. Specifically, using comparative case study, this dissertation examines the sustainability efforts of two communities, Oberlin, Ohio and Berea, Kentucky. Both communities have created advanced sustainability efforts over more than a decade of work and both communities have well-developed partnerships with the colleges in their communities. It finds that communities are responding to both global risks related to climate change and energy price volatility, but also are making efforts to resolve more localized social problems and economic challenges. This research also demonstrates that communities are particularly interested in increasing their community resilience related to local energy and food production, but also have concerns with addressing the persistent inequalities that exist in their communities.