Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Paul Kirshen

Second Advisor

Amit Patel

Third Advisor

Rosalyn Negron, Helen Adams


The City of Boston has emerged as a leader in the Northeastern United States for developing and implementing definitive climate action plans for both mitigation and adaptation strategies. Such steps are essential as the city is vulnerable to coastal flooding from storms and exceptionally high tides. These risks will increase in the future due to climate change and associated sea-level-rise (SLR). Among numerous approaches to manage flooding, Nature-Based Strategies (NBS) have emerged as potentially the most reasonable adaptation measures for Boston to the extent that the city has committed to using primarily shore-based NBS as an adaptation approach. There are engineering challenges associated with these adaptation strategies, particularly in the coastal urban context, but equally important are those challenges relating to community dynamics. This research focuses on the influence of human values and interactions in determining adaptation responses, including proposed local climate change adaptation strategies and policies such as NBS. To this end, I apply a case study research approach and follow a Values-focused Thinking (VFT) framework of analysis. This research explores: 1) How the subjective motivations and priorities among stakeholder groups are influencing their perceived notions of acceptable coastal adaptation approaches, specifically nature-based strategies; 2) What adaptation objectives across various stakeholder groups are informing the selection of coastal adaptation strategies and associated decision actions; and 3) How integrated stakeholder objectives can guide the development of climate change adaptation strategies for transformative adaptation outcomes. The results demonstrate how climate change adaptation strategies designed and informed by diverse stakeholder perspectives and values, placing the human face of climate change at the center of adaptation discourse, can support transformative adaptation. The key contribution of this research is a deeper understanding of the socio-economic and political processes that shape the choice of adaptation strategies and the outcomes for an urban coastal community in fundamental ways.


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