Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Katherin B. Hankins

Second Advisor

Dr. John M. Allensworth

Third Advisor

Dr. Timothy L. Hawthorne

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Daniel M. Deocampo

Fifth Advisor

John A. Steward, MPH


Environmental factors within communities play a significant role on the health and well-being of residents. These social and physical determinants have a substantial effect on health. This interaction can result in environmental injustices, inequality, and ultimately poor health for residents. The community of Galena Park, Texas, is a predominantly minority community of Hispanic and African-American residents with previously undocumented concerns related to air quality, the built environment, access to healthcare and the food environment. Through participatory engagement with Galena Park residents using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), this research examines the degree to which GIS is an effective tool in illustrating and visualizing environmental and social injustices. Findings from this research suggest that GIS only relays part of the story and is most powerful when the lived experiences of residents are integrated into the analytical process.