Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Marcelo Schincariol

Second Advisor

Colleen Scanlan Lyons

Third Advisor

Dale Miller


This thesis investigates and compares conceptions or visions of “wilderness.” To illustrate the differences, four different socio-cultural groups in Southern Bahia, Brazil in contrast to Northern Colorado were studied. A total of 80 people were surveyed and interviewed, 40 in Brazil and 40 in Colorado with 10 people from each socio-cultural group: university professors, university students, environmentalists, and family farmers. The objective of this research was to achieve a greater understanding of their perspectives on the human-nature relationship and the implications of these perceptions for environmental understanding and action. Through the compilation and analysis of the data, it is concluded that Northern (United States) and Southern (Brazil) Environmentalist distinctions begin to dissolve while similarities emerge between parallel socio-cultural groups. Brazilian farmers and a few United States professors and environmentalists were against preservation areas where no humans are allowed. These individuals did not separate humans from nature and also believed in the rights of native people to continue to live on their land. Some people separated humans and nature placing nature as more important because they often have positive definitions of “wilderness” contrasted to negative ones of “civilization.” Certain individuals placed humans above nature, especially the U.S. farmers and a few students in Brazil and the U.S. Many individuals believed that humans and nature are the same thing. Most people agreed that education and cultural changes were needed to improve the human-nature relationship and these improvements should be made. The intention is that discoveries in this topic can be used to improve environmental management methods in both countries, specifically related to national parks in Brazil.