While “stewardship” is often used to describe environmental improvement efforts, it is difficult to find an agreed upon definition of the term. Current research examines stewardship programs, activities, networks, and outcomes. A comprehensive definition should take into account the perspectives of all stakeholders. Practitioners and project managers have particularly direct experiences of stewardship, however little has been done to determine how they define the term and its implementation. Establishing a shared concept of stewardship is essential to further research, and the intent of this preliminary study is to begin to develop a definition. Researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with representatives of nine Seattle environmental organizations, who collectively have over 100 years of experience in the field. Conceptual Content Cognitive Mapping (3CM) was used to elicit responses to the question “what is environmental stewardship?” The 3CM method encourages participants to reveal and explore their cognitions and perceptions about an idea or activity. Responses are open-ended, rather than constrained by finite lists of questions or variables. Analysis of 3CM responses generates thematic, structural representations of shared concepts and their interactions across study participants. Results show that these practitioners have a multi-layered definition of stewardship, from environmental improvement to community building, from actions to outcomes. This array of perceptions is displayed in their organizational activities, and as further research may show, in organizational networks and outcomes. This initial work builds upon ongoing stewardship mapping research in New York City, and is part of a larger project comparing stewardship networks in Seattle and Baltimore. Through continued study in these and other cities, this work can be expanded and replicated to create a framework for urban environmental stewardship research.
Romolini, Michele; Brinkley, Weston; and Wolf, Kathleen
"What is Urban Environmental Stewardship? Working Toward a Practitioner-Derived Definition in Seattle,"
Cities and the Environment (CATE):
1, Article 21.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/cate/vol3/iss1/21