Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Tara Deubel, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Roberta Baer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sarah Taylor, Ph.D.

Committee Member

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.


Climate Change, Environmental Justice, Infrastructure, Political Ecology, Stormwater Management, Urban Flooding, Ground Truthing, Redevelopment


The University Area (UA), a low-income, unincorporated neighborhood in Hillsborough County, Florida, is a site of sustainable redevelopment by the local government and nonprofit organizations. Throughout the past decade, the transitions in local and state political climates have significantly impacted the residents’ ability to advocate for infrastructural and environmental improvement to the site. This thesis discusses the findings of a research project dedicated to exploring resident perspectives of stormwater management, infrastructure, and the redevelopment currently occurring the University Area. Drawing from theoretical concepts in political ecology, environmental justice, and the interplay of agency and structure, this research investigates the impacts of flooding on the UA’s residents and infrastructure; specifically, the ways it affects the population’s interaction with their environment. Data were collected using a mixed methods approach including participant observation; semi structured interviews with residents, developers, and community organization employees; ground truthing the area to verify the location of the stormwater drains present in a selection of the UA; a historical review of the area’s land use; and analysis of critical environmental justice databases. Findings indicate that flooding in the University Area is related to historical oppressive housing strategies against minority and low-income populations. Results found that flooding in UA is caused by a combination of faulty infrastructure (impervious surfaces and a subpar, unmaintained stormwater system), increasing rain events (climate change), and the lack of municipality support (power dynamics). The oppressive power dynamic present in the relationship between the residents and their respective property owners and the county municipality services exacerbates problems with flooding. Redevelopment plans in the University Area must address the effects of historical marginalization and disenfranchisement of the current residents with respect to housing segregation and lack of municipality support. Without these considerations, the cycle of disenfranchisement faced by the current residents of the UA will likely continue and worsen over time.