Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance and Human Security

First Advisor

Michael Johnson

Second Advisor

Stacy D. VanDeveer

Third Advisor

J. Samuel Barkin


Participatory mapping (PM) is a process through which humans make decisions together using spatial data. This dissertation explores how convening institutions use PM and geographic information systems (GIS) for social change by pushing forward an interdisciplinary research agenda that utilizes interviews and human-computer interaction and psycho-social surveying. An analysis of the evidence collected suggests that PM software can lead to public policy and normative behavioral change when users maintain a positive perception of the technology, administrators, process design, and other participant groups. Moreover, the research also suggests that users’ access to and understanding of the technology is critical to positive perceptions of the processes’ success. These results call into question the use of technical experts, sometimes referred to as “chauffeurs”, and challenges representational human-computer interaction in public processes that use GIS technologies under certain contexts. This dissertation contributes to the growing number of studies showing that citizen participation in science and resource planning can lead to more equitable and long-term social change.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.