All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Akhlaque Haque

Advisory Committee Members

Jeremy Hall

Michael Howell-Moroney

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Public Administration (MPA) College of Arts and Sciences


The grassroots path to public policy is characterized by citizen pressure on policy makers to produce desired change and has been especially successful in the realm of natural resources. It has proven successful in the obtainment of various local and state level policy to control light pollution in the United States. Light pollution, defined as misdirected, obtrusive, or unwanted man-made outdoor lighting is a modern phenomenon that, among other effects, is resulting in the rapid loss of visible starscape throughout the world. Independent grassroots-initiated policies have sprung up around the globe in attempt to control light pollution. The present thesis proposes the need of a national light pollution control policy in addition to state and/or local level ordinances regarding this negative externality. It makes the case that the grassroots path is the ideal route to light pollution control policy at all levels, regardless of the motivation for such policy. Moreover, this thesis specially considers the impact light pollution is having one particular group of stakeholders: overnight outdoor recreationists. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that ability to view the starscape is a major factor in overnight outdoor recreationist satisfaction, although no known prior studies have scientifically examined this expected relationship. Because policy attempts to govern some aspect of human behavior, consideration of tendencies regarding behavior can shed light on not only what a policy may need to iii provide for, but also on actual mechanisms of the grassroots path to policy. Awareness of particular social and behavioral constructs that may impact policy quests stands to greatly aid those involved in the process. Therefore, this thesis studies several of the most relevant behavioral constructs in the process of addressing the grassroots path to light pollution control policy. The first to establish scientific credibility of anecdotal evidence suggesting stargazing is a valued nighttime experience and that light pollution is undesirable, the present study examines light pollution as it relates to the overnight outdoor recreation experience in Alabama State Parks. Specifically, through paper-based surveys completed by Alabama State Park visitors, it answers how important visible starscape is to such recreationists, what their attitudes toward light pollution are, and what pollutant control methods would be viable for recreational sites. Overwhelmingly, results show starscape visibility is highly valued by overnight outdoor recreationists in Alabama, while light pollution is undesirable. Moreover, the case is made to control light pollution through a coalition of stakeholder grassroots groups/ organizations and individuals at local, state, and national levels. Results of this study began the process of establishing a national coalition for light pollution control policy. Future directions are discussed, including the establishment of recreationist attitudes toward light pollution and starscape visibility on a larger scale and in varying locations. Such measures must also be scientifically established among non-outdoor-recreationist citizens to strengthen the call for local, state, and national lighting reform through grassroots efforts.



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