Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Blue zones--Middle West; Social capital (Sociology)--Health aspects--Middle West; Public health--Middle West;


Today, communities throughout the world seek to design, develop, and organize their natural and manmade features to promote a higher quality of life and community livability. The term “built environment” includes both natural and manmade areas, facilities, and structures but also social and cultural factors which are unique to a given community; this term is used to frame a dialog around this topic (Flack et al., 2013). Increasingly, greater attention has focused on crafting the built environment to promote more walkable streetscapes, and opportunities for community engagement and social capital have become more prominent in the minds of citizens, community developers, and public policy planners.

The purpose of the study was to explore the relationship of the built environment, social capital, and walkability. In particular, the study was undertaken in a certified Blue Zones® project demonstration community. As such, the study seeks to explore how one’s perception of walkability and social capital influences one’s life’s activities.

There were 119 respondents in this study, 48 drawn from urban neighborhoods and 71 from suburban neighborhoods. Of the respondents, 75 (63.0%) were female and 41 (34.5%) were male. The majority of participants were 65 years and older (52.9%). The majority of respondents resided in a household of two (46.2%) individuals. The most frequently reported income level was $50,000-$74,999, indicated by 31 (26.1%) respondents. The educational attainment of respondents found that 76 (63.8%) held bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degrees. Respondents reported the actual number of locations to which they walked. The highest number reported was two locations by 36 (30.3%) individuals.

Several null hypothesis statements were formulated from eight research questions. The majority of statistical calculations demonstrated no statistically significant differences among the hypothesis statements and therefore they were retained. A single hypothesis statement was rejected for Ho:1, which investigated neighborhood type when viewing walkability and social capital. Thus, it is somewhat evident that when viewing walkability and social capital by neighborhood, that urban neighborhoods reported stronger perception of walkability, while suburban neighborhoods reported a higher level of social capital.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Health, Recreation, and Community Services

First Advisor

Christopher R. Edginton, Committee Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 134 pages)



File Format


Available for download on Wednesday, December 23, 2020