Environmental Social Influence (mentor Sarah Wood)
This project will explore the use of social influence to promote environmentally sustainable behavior change. There is considerable evidence that social influence can increase adoption of a wide range of pro-environment behaviors. However, the variety of contributors to water quality issues in the region may mean there are unique barriers to overcome to make these strategies truly effective in the Red Cedar Watershed. We will gain an understanding of these barriers and explore how to potentially overcome them in designing attitude and behavior change interventions.
Political knowledge, public opinion, and policymaking (mentor Kimberly Zagorski)
Mixed methods projects will look at the intersection of information flows, scientific literacy, policymaking, and public attitudes related to drinking water in Dunn County. The goal is to understand how (mis)information regarding science, behavior, and public policy impact the ability of stakeholders to enact policies designed to maintain clean drinking water. Public opinion surveys, interviews and/or focus groups of Dunn County residents will be used to understand knowledge and concern about water issues, scientific literacy, and trust in local and state actors. Content analysis of news sources and local social media groups will identify the information the public and policymakers are exposed to regarding drinking water. Interviews with journalists and social media groups will clarify what types of problems and solutions make it to these outlets. Finally, interviews with local interest groups and county, state, and local government officials will highlight their policy goals and how they use information to achieve them.
Water Quality, Nutrient Dynamics, and Cyanobacteria Blooms (mentor Nicole Hayes)
This project will explore nutrient dynamics and harmful cyanobacterial blooms in the surface waters of the Red Cedar Watershed, building on ongoing work by researchers at UW-Stout. Students will have the opportunity to learn sample collection and analysis techniques and to help guide monitoring efforts by identifying areas prone to pollution due to surrounding land use, are sites of in-stream and surrounding habitat restoration or are slated for future habitat improvement projects. These ongoing monitoring efforts seek to collect more, better-targeted data needed by county officials and practitioners to improve water quality in the Red Cedar Watershed.
Agriculture, Climate Resiliency, and Local Foodsheds (mentor Arthur Kneeland)
This project will explore the intersection of agriculture, sustainable development for climate resiliency, and local supply chains. With an interdisciplinary approach (including agricultural sciences, economics, sustainable development, anthropology, rural sociology, etc.) we will examine the foodshed to determine inroads to alternative cropping methods on farms, in stores, and in production facilities. Much recent research has been done on alternative cropping systems and farm products; we will explore which of these are best suited to the foodshed of the region.