Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 743–759 | Cite as

Development pathways at the agriculture–urban interface: the case of Central Arizona

  • Julia C. Bausch
  • Hallie Eakin
  • Skaidra Smith-Heisters
  • Abigail M. York
  • Dave D. White
  • Cathy Rubiños
  • Rimjhim M. Aggarwal


Particular visions of urban development are often codified in multi-year resource management policies. These policies, and the negotiations leading to them, are based in specific problem frames and narratives with long legacies. As conditions change and knowledge improves, there is often a need to revisit how problems, opportunities, and development pathways were defined historically, and to consider the viability of alternative pathways for development. In this article, we examine the case of agriculture near Metropolitan Phoenix, in the Central Arizona region, to highlight how frames and narratives embedded in policy can reinforce particular development pathways, even as information, conditions, and values evolve. Using expert interviews and secondary data, we document alternative frames and narratives that may offer different pathways for development and sustainability in the region. By highlighting alternative narratives, we demonstrate the uncertainties and limitations associated with all narratives about development pathways, and explore the possibilities that narrative shifts can alter future outcomes.


Agriculture–urban interface Local agriculture Pathways Frames and narratives Arizona 



Arizona Department of Water Resources




Active Management Areas


Best Available Retrofit Technology


Central Arizona Project


Environmental Protection Agency


Groundwater Management Act of 1980


Million acre-feet


Navajo Generating Station


United States Department of Agriculture



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant SES-0951366, Decision Center for a Desert City II: Urban Climate Adaptation, with additional support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CSI Award #NA110AR4310123, H. Eakin, PI. All findings presented are the responsibility of the authors, not the funding agencies. We would like to thank the interview participants for sharing their time, knowledge, and perspectives; Dr. Marty Anderies, John Connors, Emily Kaba, Summer Waters, Jessica Welch, and Sally Wittlinger for their support in this research; Sally Wittlinger for preparing Fig. 1; the 2012 Adaptation, Resilience, and Transformation workshop participants (Angela Cazel-Jahn, Cathy Rubiños, Skaidra Smith-Heisters, Jose Sosa, Robinson Torres Salinas) for their content analysis of public documents related to water and agriculture in Central Arizona; Dr. Ian Scoones and Dr. John Thompson (STEPS Centre) for sharing their useful insights during the early stages of writing this manuscript; and Dr. Allain Barnett (University of New Brunswick), Editor Dr. Harvey S. James Jr. and the reviewers for their constructive feedback that improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia C. Bausch
    • 1
  • Hallie Eakin
    • 1
  • Skaidra Smith-Heisters
    • 2
  • Abigail M. York
    • 2
  • Dave D. White
    • 3
  • Cathy Rubiños
    • 1
  • Rimjhim M. Aggarwal
    • 1
  1. 1.School of SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.School of Human Evolution and Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.School of Community Resources and DevelopmentArizona State UniversityPhoenixUSA

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