Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Department or School/College

Department of Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Steve Schwarze

Commitee Members

Sara Hayden, Martin Nie


NEPA, public participation, collaboration, Mouffe, rhetoric, reasonable hostility


University of Montana

Subject Categories



There are two predominant models for thinking about proper communicative conduct on the part of citizens participating in federal environmental decision making. The consultative model is typically the basis for traditional forms of public participation. The consensus model has been developed as an alternative to the perceived failings of traditional forms of public participation, and underpin increasingly common collaborative approaches to public participation). In this paper, I will take a humanities based approach to advocating for the consideration of a third approach, that of ‘reasonable hostility.’ I argue that neither of the currently dominant models of participatory conduct successfully accounts for a role for the public hearing in a way that is compelling to most would-be participants. There is a need for a renewed view of public hearings that is both honest regarding the degree of opportunity for the public to directly influence federal environmental policy while also reconsidering the potential of public hearings in NEPA as a democratic communicative space. In the tradition of rhetorical scholarship I hope to enrich that view by highlighting the communicative moves necessary for the public hearing in NEPA to occupy a simultaneously ubiquitous but limited role as well as offering guidance for enhancing that role.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons



© Copyright 2015 Kevin C. Stone