Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography & Environmental Studies

Program Name/Specialization

Human Geography


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Alison Blay-Palmer

Advisor Role



Grounded in political ecology and the ecological humanities, the aim of this research is to examine the Bee City movement as a conservation engagement strategy at the municipal level. While pollinator research occurs from a variety of perspectives – biology, entomology, phylogeny, ecology, and agricultural sciences - social engagement strategies and the human dimensions of pollinator conservation have yet to be widely investigated. This research questions if these strategies put in place, and contribute to, important political and socio-ecological mechanisms in the local context. Through a collective case study methodology, this research points to the Bee City movement as a way to operationalize a whole-of-community approach to conservation efforts. For some Bee Cities, starting where they are may include, or may not challenge, activities that reproduce existing detrimental conditions – for example, those that perpetuate a unidimensional view of pollination. However, the Bee City approach fosters a community of learning and creates the space for multi-species connections in the spirit of Leopold’s land ethic. From a human geography perspective, this approach can help move us toward place-based communities grounded in eco-social justice and reciprocity. By enhancing the theory of diverse economies, the Bee City case study shows how actually existing work can provide value which deprioritizes market interests for a more holistic understanding of economic value and help to inform policy, prioritize and legitimize unpopular projects, advance existing priorities, and enhance public engagement. In this work, Bee Cities can serve to move us towards a better understanding of our interconnectedness with other members of the biotic community. Theoretically, this research has identified an important relationship between the environmental humanities and political ecology literatures, in particular, an integration of the two literatures to strengthen and enhance both at the intersection of power. It has shown how more porous boundaries within and between disciplines serve to enhance a whole-of-community approach by reframing existing knowledge and shifting how knowledge is enacted (praxis). Finally, this research shows that Bee Cities can act as a catalyst for hopeful action, moving us ever forward towards a future where we, and our more-than-human community members, can thrive.

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Convocation Season