Year of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Forest and Conservation Science

Department or School/College

W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Wayne Freimund

Commitee Members

Keith Bosak, Jennifer Thomsen, Sarah Halvorson, Len Broberg


Destination image, Glacier National Park, Peace parks, Protected area management, Transboundary conservation, Waverton-Glacier International Peace Park


University of Montana


Within the increasing focus on transboundary conservation initiatives around the world, the “peace” element that is supposed to differentiate peace parks from other transboundary protected areas is not clearly defined. Little has been done to assess how peace parks are perceived by different people, which unique values and meanings are associated with this concept, and which benefits they can provide. Currently, there are a variety of social, political and economic contexts where different peace parks operate. This can lead to confusion over peace park meanings and benefits, dominance of ecological emphasis over governance and social issues in the discussion of conservation efforts, lack of information about peace parks in general, and lack of organizational leadership in relation to the peace park idea. These challenges can limit ability to meet the potential of the peace park concept.

The primary purpose of this research was to advance understanding of the peace park concept. To do so, it explored how peace is defined and perceived in the context of the U.S. section of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, revealed the role of peace within a destination image model of Glacier National Park (GNP), and suggested how peace could be further built into the organizational identity of the park.

First, using the analysis of literature on peace parks and the data from 97 in-depth and free-elicitation interviews with GNP visitors and managers, it was explored if the peace park idea has penetrated the visiting public, and what park managers thought about it. The findings were organized around three main themes that emerged from the data, namely awareness about the peace park designation, perception of peace and its unique features in the context of a peace park, and perceptions of peace park benefits. Eleven different peace park meanings and six categories of benefits were identified, and it was revealed that there is a considerable opportunity to expand the awareness of and extend the benefits of the peace park status.

In the second paper, the cognitive and affective nature of the destination image of GNP were explored, as perceived by current visitors, and where the peace dimension fits in the destination image model was identified. A conceptual model of GNP destination image was developed and tested with survey data from 379 park visitors, which was analyzed using Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Modeling. The impact of cognitive constructs on affective image, and cognitive and affective constructs on intended visitor behavior were investigated. The peace dimension was found to influence both affective image and behavioral intentions, and empirical results provided evidence that peace plays an important role in the destination image of GNP.

Finally, using an Interdisciplinary Identity framework, the third paper suggested critical questions that GNP managers should ask themselves about the role of peace within their desired and perceived identity. That paper offered a path that managers could consider should they desire to further solidify peace within GNP identity. A recommendation was made to link peace to other values of GNP, and extend the peace identity to different target audiences.

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