Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

John Vogelsang


Decades ago the Federal Government created a system of systems to assist in eradicating extreme poverty, however in 2011 the poverty rate was at its highest rate in almost two decades leaving millions of families and individuals searching for assistance. Given today’s statistics it should not come as a shock that more and more families and individuals have accessed the system and government spending has significantly increased. The deterioration of the safety net has left many lost, looking for answers and for change to happen.

This research study focused on a small community in Brattleboro, Vermont and asked: What are the current service systems within a poor rural North American community and how might sustainable development practices be beneficial? The research conducted focused on information gathered from individuals who were participants of the system as well as individuals who worked in the system.

Participants found the current system helpful but they were mostly frustrated with how the current system was not meeting their needs. This study looked at suggestions made to modify the current system and also looked at practices of sustainable development. The system set in place has proven to be complicated, intricate, and difficult to navigate but it has created a foundation in which sustainable change can grow and take shape.


Community-Based Research | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


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