Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Carl Herndl, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Caroline Gottschalk Druschke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ernst Peebles, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marc Santos, Ph.D.


lay-expertise, ontology, fisheries management, Science Technology Studies


This dissertation applies object-oriented rhetorics and posthuman philosophies to environmental policy deliberation in order to help bridge gaps between policy makers, scientists, and citizens. For environmental policy scholars the non-credentialed expertise of local, or indigenous stakeholders is valued as possessing technical, objective merit that can improve the development and implementation of environmental policies. However, the utilization of stakeholder expertise in environmental policy faces serious challenges in terms of finding common grounds for communication within complex techno-social systems, of overcoming deep cultural differences and perceptions, and grave ethical issues of access and power. This dissertation develops two case studies of marine fisheries policy debates using theories of material ontology to detail the process of how the expertise of ordinary citizens develops within the context of environmental policy and how that expertise might be better utilized.

By employing object-oriented rhetorical theories to trace material agency through the Snook and Gamefish’s (SGF) stakeholder integration programs in Florida’s Spotted Seatrout and Common Snook fishery debates, this dissertation argues that a material ontology of expertise offers a means of assessing the quality of lay-publics’ non-credentialed expertise. This dissertation suggests that an enriched since of what material objects are capable of rhetorically helps us develop tangible, actionable tools for environmental policy studies. By understanding expertise in terms of the accretion of material experiences, policy makers and scholars might more easily evaluate and utilize the expertise of environmental policy stakeholders