Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Global and International Studies

First Advisor

Denise Keele, Political Science

Second Advisor

Lynne Heasley, History


water quality, Great Lakes


Whether present in abundance or known for its scarcity, water defines the regional and geographical identities of people. It defines political and ecological boundaries globally. Water paucity and quality in burgeoning populations has been a catalyst for creative resource management policies. Conservation of water resources, in practice, has still not improved however. As a result, the health and stability of the Great Lakes as a natural resource is threatened. The Great Lakes region includes two countries, eight states, two provinces, and over 200 tribal and native influences. International agreements, such as the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 (BWT) and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) beginning in 1972, have attempted to define responsibilities for broad water issues. So what are the best ways to manage such a vital element? Management institutions created from such agreements and treaties have struggled to handle the diversity of issues for various reasons. Meanwhile, local-level efforts emerged to address specific local concerns. The role of such efforts is examined, using interdisciplinary historical analysis and comparative case studies, in relation to the GLWQA. The place and function of different forms of local-level efforts are incorporated into this study to provide depth. The resulting analysis reveals that these forms of conservation have produced encouraging progress and results. Strengthened efforts must be made to cultivate further community involvement as a way to achieve the goals set out in international policy and bridge the philosophical dichotomy of thinking globally, and acting locally.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access