Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Laura Ogden

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Gail Hollander

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Co-chair

Third Advisor's Name

Hugh Gladwin

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Nazife Ganapati

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


climate-change culture, climate-change planning, climate-change adaptation, climate change; water-management practices, advisory bodies, Miami-Dade County Climate Change, South Florida, Southeast Florida, Miami; urban planning

Date of Defense



While much attention has been given to the ways local communities may be impacted by climate change, this dissertation focuses ethnographically on the local agencies decision-making processes, a less-studied aspect of this topic. The primary purpose of this dissertation research is to understand how government agencies in southern Florida integrate climate change into their decision-making processes while dealing with political resistance. This research expands our understanding on the cultural politics of a new kind of environmental change, where national and international climate-change politics is brought into local water politics to illuminate how new and not so new visions about life in the contemporary metropolis collide and collude.

Using multiple research methods including ethnographic fieldwork, participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and document research, I analyze the activities of the Miami-Dade County Climate Change Advisory Task Force Committee (MDC-CCATF) as well as the water management practices of the regional water management agency, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). My findings include the following: (1) the Task Force activities have spearheaded Miami’s institutional adaptation to climate change; (2) historic legacies have expanded and complicated decision-making processes at the District; (3) a focus on the certainties of climate-change science allows climate change to persist in politically contentious planning contexts.

My dissertation concluded that while planning for potential climate-change impacts can be difficult due to multiple institutional constraints that resource agencies like the District have, scientists and policy-makers have crafted an innovative culture that is particularly visible at sites where science and decision making intersect.





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