Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Rachel Slocum

Second Advisor

Nikoi Kote-Nikoi


The Changeworks Committee of the Groundworks Collaborative was created in 2014 to implement advocacy that would build public support for long-term policy changes addressing the root causes of homelessness in Windham County Vermont. This research focused on the work of this committee, and posed the question: How does reframing homelessness as a systemic issue instead of an individual issue impact the public perception of the problem in Windham County, Vermont? I argue that reframing perceptions of homelessness as the result of systemic failure and not as a problem of individual choice is key to building public support for solutions. Additionally, the work of the Changeworks Committee was analyzed through Shultz’s roadmap for policy, Unsicker’s policy circles, and Lakoff’s reframing model. My findings and analysis show the committee’s efforts have resulted in an increase in community collaboration, awareness of the root causes of homelessness, and the empowerment of those experiencing homelessness. Shifting away from the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” approach towards a systemic root cause approach has allowed for a deeper, more productive public discourse on how to implement solutions in the local area.


Economic Policy | Health Policy | Housing Law | Infrastructure | Land Use Law | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social Welfare | Social Welfare Law


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