University Students’ Social Demand of a Blue Space and the Influence of Life Experiences




Julian, Jason P.
Daly, Graham S.
Weaver, Russell

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute


Blue spaces such as rivers provide many ecosystem services (ES), including freshwater for consumption, habitat, water quality regulation, and multiple cultural amenities. While many studies have quantified the biophysical supply of ES provided by rivers, fewer have explored the social demand for ES due to the considerable effort involved in collecting these data. The San Marcos River (SMR) and the Texas State University (TXST) students that use this blue space represent a dynamic social-ecological system (SES) where nature experiences shape student values of the system. In this study, we survey the TXST student population about their use, value, and perception of the SMR, a highly used river of which headwaters originate on and flow through campus. From our extensive survey of these students, we find that educational and life experiences matter. Overall, we find that student exposure to the SMR in space, time, and experience does have measurable effects on their use, value, and perception of ES. This SES study demonstrates the importance of life experiences, place-based knowledge, and experiential learning in influencing one’s well-being and value of natural environments.



ecosystem services, social demand survey, social-ecological systems, university student perceptions, urban streams, Geography and Environmental Studies


Julian, J. P., Daly, G. S., & Weaver, R. (2018). University students’ social demand of a blue space and the influence of life experiences. Sustainability, 10(9): 3178.


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© 2018 The Authors.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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