Date of Award

Winter 12-11-2016

Degree Type

Honors Project



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Smith


This research will focus on activist organizations as practitioners of public relations. Using this framework, Love Canal and Carver Terrace, two groundbreaking environmental justice case studies, are evaluated through the lens of public relations. These lenses include public relations models, strategies, and tactics. Power and legitimacy are evaluated as factors which impact the public relations activities of activists. It was found that models did not fall into the 2-way symmetrical model and that strategies were motivated by interactions with target organizations. Furthermore, activists in these case studies utilized nearly every category of tactics. Furthermore power and legitimacy were discovered to be major points of contention between activists and target organizations however, legitimacy seemed to be easier for activists to gain than power.

Finally, the case studies were evaluated based on their success and each case study was found to meet criteria which satisfied the description of success. The findings in this paper will be used to set a foundation for further research in the field of environmental justice activists and public relations for which there is currently very little.