Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Kimmarie Murphy

Second Advisor

Edward Schortman


In the summer of 2015, the author conducted interviews with twenty-seven Knox County residents who volunteered to be interviewed after completing a survey (N=220). Surveys and interviews queried Knox County residents’ experiences with the Kokosing River, how these experiences influence their understandings of nature and wilderness, and their thoughts on environmental awareness, education, and action. Based on these conversations, the thesis explores the diverse meanings attributed to water, nature, wilderness, the environment, and the Kokosing River. Knox County residents connect with the Kokosing River in varied meaningful ways, many in relation to their sense of self. In analyzing interviews, absolutist and essentialist characterizations of such concepts as nature, culture, and wilderness dissolve into nuanced continuums relative within and between rivers and other environments. Interviewees also provided insights into what it means to have a connection with the environment, their ideas for how to develop such ties and inspire someone to take action on its behalf, and the degree to which they identify with conservationism, preservationism, and environmentalism. Throughout, the thesis includes quotes and comments from interviewees in order to focus on Knox County residents’ experiences, interpretations, and beliefs in their own words.

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