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Cultural Models of Environment and Pollution

Michael Paolisso, Principal Investigator

The Cultural Models of Environment and Pollution Project is a three year study of the underlying cultural beliefs and values that Bay stakeholders implicitly draw upon to frame ecological and environmental knowledge.  At the conceptual center of the project is the theoretical construct of cultural model.  Cultural models are cognitive frames or templates of assumed or implicit knowledge that assist individuals in interpreting and understanding information and events.  The project is particularly interested in how cultural models are generated, shared, and implicitly present in environmental discourses and whether their presence is a source of agreement or disagreement about the cause and solution of environmental problems.  The project has been working with Bay watermen (commercial fishers), farmers, scientists, resource managers and policymakers.  The results of the project are being used to promote dialogue among blue crab stakeholder groups, evaluate the applied and theoretical contributions of both qualitative and quantitative approaches in the study of cultural models, and to contribute to theoretical and applied interests in environmental and marine anthropology.

Funding for this project is provided by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Maryland Sea Grant.


University of Maryland | Department of Anthropology | 1111 Woods Hall | College Park, MD 20742