Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Carl Herndl, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Frank Muller-Karger, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Meredith Johnson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Benford, Ph.D.


stakeholder engagement, Applied Rhetoric of Science, framing, prediction imperative, situated judgment, persuasion


The purpose of this study was to observe and analyze the process of regional climate adaptation planning and the role of stakeholder deliberation in decision making about adaptation actions. It employed a case study approach based on one of three total study sites of an international, multidisciplinary grant titled, “METROPOLE: An Integrated Framework to Analyze Local Decision Making and Adaptive Capacity to Large-Scale Environmental Change”. The purpose of the case study of this project was to analyze stakeholder deliberation at two workshops at the grant’s Broward County, Florida site regarding two adaptation options: elevation/floodproofing and voluntary buyouts. Analyzing stakeholder deliberation about these two options allowed for the identification of specific barriers to adaptation for stakeholders in this region. These barriers were then used to suggest values regarding adaptation priorities and planning. The primary idea driving this project was that deliberation provides a pragmatic approach to determining stakeholder values and preferences – which ought to be used to inform planning and decision making about climate policy. The ultimate goal of this project was to demonstrate how the rhetorical concepts of situated judgment, persuasion, and deliberation can be applied in adaptation planning processes and therefore, how applied rhetoric contributes to the production of “usable” science, or science that takes decision makers’ preferences and needs into account when making policy decisions.

The problem that this project responds to involves three interrelated parts: framing, communication, and policymaking. Currently, climate change framing in the US is largely characterized by “debate” and emphasizes only one aspect of the climate change problem: cause. The second part of the problem pertains to communication and in particular, the way in which scientific and economic data about climate change/adaptation is typically delivered to non-scientific audiences. The third part of the problem as it is addressed in this project pertains to policymaking, or what enables or prevents progress toward effective policymaking.

Data collected for this project include: surveys, 10 in-depth interviews, and field notes. The first layer of analysis was facilitated through Decision Explorer, a qualitative software commonly used in strategic management and decision sciences. For this project, Decision Explorer was used to cognitively map and analyze data from the 10 in-depth interviews. The second layer of analysis used NVivo, a qualitative coding software, to organize and code data collected from all sources. The findings of this project concluded that for stakeholders in this region, the four primary barriers to adaptation were: leadership, resources, invisibility/timing, and the limitations of modeling processes. Stakeholders’ primary values about climate adaptation reflected their strong sense of place attachment. These values were expressed in terms of altruistic values, or concerns about how the local implications of climate may affect humans (e.g., how vulnerably located critical infrastructure and weakening transportation infrastructure will affect citizens’ safety and community resilience) and “scientific” values, such as the inclusion of regional scientific factors in climate modeling and adaptation planning.

One of the most significant contributions of this project was the development of an approach that leverages the application of rhetorical concepts in science policy planning/decision making. This unique strategy embedded the rhetorical components of deliberation, situated judgment, phronesis and persuasion within the three framing tasks of collective action framing (i.e., diagnostic, prognostic and motivational framing) to illustrate a unique approach for engaging stakeholders in adaptation planning. More broadly, this project responded to calls for social science research to provide useful recommendations about how to facilitate more effective stakeholder engagement and communication about climate adaptation planning and policy.