Jessi Kwek

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Political Science

First Advisor

Shu Wang, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Gregory Plagens, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Barbara Patrick, Ph.D.


The United States is unique in the extent of its car dependence - our reliance on individualized modes of transportation leaves little room for other, more accessible, forms of transportation in most places. This unimodal transportation design leaves those without cars unable to participate in public life in the same way, but further, it restricts our participation in civic life as a whole. Civic engagement rates have fallen with the rise of the automobile, and left us disconnected from and ignorant to the people and activities that would make up our communities. The exception tends to be areas where multiple transportation options are available - most basically, where individuals can walk to their destinations. In this paper, I explore the factors that explain the connection between walkability and civic engagement and explain the dynamics of these connecting factors using existing literature and interview content from residents and city officials of a walkable community and a car dependent community. I then consider the implications of these findings and include suggestions for future research and actions that communities can take to improve their walkability.