Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

James Levinson


The Transition Movement is an international movement focused on helping communities build local resilience and a sense of connection in preparation for the challenges of climate change, peak oil, and economic instability. People in Putney, VT, a small town in southeastern Vermont, chose in late 2009 to make Putney a Transition Town. This paper explores how Transition Town Putney has impacted the lives and thoughts of local Putney people. The paper’s research question is “As the people of Putney, VT confront the challenges of peak oil, climate change and economic instability, how is Transition Town Putney helping them respond in a way that is shaping a community and a life that may be more positive than what they had before?” The study utilizes two conceptual frameworks: Basic Human Needs Theory, based on John W. Burton’s version of basic human needs, and Sense of Community Theory, based on McMillan and Chavis’ theories. For data collection, nine people who have been involved with Transition Putney in a variety of ways filled out a seventeen-question questionnaire. Follow-up interviews were conducted with each respondent, and included four questions. Disaggregation of the data reveals that male respondents were more highly optimistic and positive about the impact the group has had on their thoughts and feelings, while members of the Transition core organizing group tended to be more positive about the impact the group is having on their lives. Such patterns did not result when the data was disaggregated by age, economic status, length of time living in Putney or parental status. Data from the study indicates that Transition Putney has made an intentional effort to recognize participants as multi-dimensional people, has offered them countless opportunities for leadership and action, and has given them a safe and secure structure through which to connect to each other. Being a part of an active, caring community is bringing Putney people a sense of hope, security, and belonging that they did not have before.


Civic and Community Engagement | Environmental Policy | Growth and Development | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Peace and Conflict Studies | Place and Environment | Social Welfare | Work, Economy and Organizations


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