Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Geography (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Geosciences

Advisor

Thomas R. Paradise

Committee Member

Noah Billig

Second Committee Member

Joel Gordon

Keywords

Philosophy, religion and theology; Social siences; Environmental perception; Israel; Jerusalem; Palestine; Survey methods; Urban planning

Abstract

Multidisciplinary research and philosophical discourse have long explored the complex relationship between the objective environment and subjective human perception. No two humans perceive, experience, and form attitudes about the same phenomenon in exactly the same way. Individual demographics (sex, age) and group identity (culture, religion, ethnicity, political ideology) have been shown to have a profound effect on perception of phenomena; research has also focused on the effect of the physical environment itself. Differences in perception, experience, and resulting behavior have great implications for governance, particularly in regards to planning and development. Recognizing these differences, modern urban planning increasingly seeks to include varying degrees of public participation in the planning process, in order to promote inclusiveness and citizen empowerment. The inclusion of measurement and analysis tools, such as survey questionnaires and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), enable policymakers, planners, and researchers to support their findings and formulate planning strategy by utilizing objective, quantitative data. While previous research has explored perception differences between the sexes, between residents of different cities, and within specific religious groups, there has been little exploration or quantitative measurement of differences in environmental perceptions and attitudes among the diverse, multicultural residents of Jerusalem, a divided city with myriad planning, development, and equality issues.

In the summer of 2012, 225 Jerusalemites of varying religious, demographic, and Social backgrounds completed a questionnaire survey that was designed to quantify their individual environmental perceptions, opinions of the city’s growth, and priorities for urban development. While the results indicated great differences between the urban experiences and perceptions of Israeli and Palestinian Jerusalemites, it was also found that these populations—commonly characterized as enemies by popular media and their respective political establishments—shared many issues in their day-to-day lives, particularly transportation accessibility, utility provision, unemployment, and housing availability. The majority of respondents indicated that cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians is necessary to solve such issues. These shared issues, experienced in spaces that are Socially and physically segregated as a result of past and ongoing governmental action and cultural divisions, may act as the foundation for cooperative, inclusive solutions that seek to improve the lives and urban experiences of all Jerusalem residents.

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