Hello everyone! I am excited for the opportunity to introduce myself and talk about the research I plan to conduct this semester and beyond. My name is Kathlyn Dannewald and I am an Environmental Studies and Political Science major. I am also pursuing an accelerated Master’s in Public Administration. I have been incredibly interested in environmental studies and policy for a long time; I particularly enjoy learning about how environmental issues intersect with other important issues such as politics, equity, and more.
I am originally from Louisiana, but my family moved to Jackson, Wyoming, about a year ago. As my access to beautiful greenspace increased, I noticed that my personal feelings of environmentalism increased as well. This made me wonder if there was a relationship between access to greenspace, especially urban park space, and individuals’ feelings of environmentalism. I was able to explore the topic a lot more in a research methods class and realized that to properly understand this relationship, I would need to learn more about environmental justice issues in relation to parks. If I am to understand how access to park space has an effect on one’s environmentalism, then understanding what factors affect access to park space is incredibly important.
This has led me to my goals for this semester. By the end of the semester, I hope to have a comprehensive literature review that I am able to use to establish an environmental justice context for park access within the Oklahoma City area. I aim to understand the historical context for settlement and zoning patterns present in OKC today. I also plan to study current demographic data for Oklahoma City and the current methods of park development and funding within the city. I will use GIS to determine patterns of park access and whether factors such as race and income level have an effect on park access in OKC. Interviews with OKC city officials and other experts will establish a better understanding of the current state of parks and park development in OKC. The research I conduct for this semester will be vital as I move forward with future stages of this project, which will focus on understanding the relationship between park access and environmentalism. The final stage of my project will aim to present suggestions to the OKC park system and city government on how to address environmental justice issues in the city and how to successfully promote environmentalism in OKC residents through greenspace.