Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation


Department 1

Environmental Studies


The second half of the twentieth century constituted a change in land use ideology and development practice brought about by the rise of the automobile, increasing economic upward mobility, and privatization of the family home. During this time, the districting and building of public schools similarly changed, turning schools from local community centers to regional and de-contextualized places of education. The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which these development practices have caused children to rely on car and bus transportation to get to and from school. Using the variable of distance within a GIS analysis of three case study locations in California, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, we tested the hypothesis that the increasing regionalization of schools in conjunction with the sprawl of developed parcels diminishes walkability to those schools for the children who attend them. Our results suggest that increased distance from schools and the districting mandates for determining school attendance decrease the ability of children to walk to school, reflecting the shift to automobile-centered land use. Our research also suggests that infrastructure-related walkability is further impeded by economic, cultural, and socio-psychological norms that are in many ways connected to or facilitated by the automobile.


Environmental Studies Thesis