For some, travelling is a calling -- not just to see the world, but to build a career.
And as the ideas of responsible and sustainable
tourism have taken hold, so too have university degree programs designed to
give students the skills to influence how tourism is managed, with the goal of
benefiting local communities, preserving their cultures and protecting their environment.
Here’s a look at a few academic programs
that can turn a passion into a full-time job:
Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK
in responsible tourism management at Leeds Metropolitan University is a pioneer in this
course of study. Professor Harold Goodwin brought the course to Leeds from London’s
University of Greenwich in 2007. Goodwin, who founded the International Centre for Responsible
Tourism (ICRT), also at Leeds, in 2002, said the course is “designed to
enable people to make change: to use tourism for sustainable development, to
use tourism to make better places for people to live in and better places for
people to visit.” Distance learning allows mid-career professionals to live and
work around the world while taking classes such as responsible tourism theory, local
economic development and poverty alleviation. The ICRT works with governments
and tourism professionals around the world to promote responsible tourism.
University of North Texas, Denton, Texas,
and CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica
The masters of science in international
sustainable tourism is a
joint degree offered by the University of North Texas (UNT) and Costa Rica’s Tropical
Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE). Students spend two semesters in Texas and three in
Costa Rica. According to the UNT, the
degree “balances environmental, economic and socio-cultural benefits and concerns”.
Several courses focus on environmental issues, while the centre in Costa Rica aims
to improve human welfare and “reduce rural poverty through integrated
management of agriculture and natural resources”.
East Carolina University, Greenville,
East Carolina University (ECU) began
offering a masters
of science in sustainable tourism in autumn 2009. Students take core courses in
science, business and policy and then take electives or design their own course
of independent study. Like other programs, ECU focuses on “economic,
environmental, and sociocultural viability” -- or what the university calls the
“triple bottom line of sustainable tourism”. ECU also houses the Center
for Sustainable Tourism,
which promotes sustainable practices in North Carolina, runs workshops on
issues such as renewable energy and climate, and conducts research on race,
ethnicity and social inequity in tourism.
Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia
Griffith University is home to the International
Centre for Ecotourism Research (ICER), launched in 1993 by the Australian government. Since
2009, ICER has been researching conservation, responsible and adventure
tourism, as well as climate change and tourism. PhD students in subjects with a
tourism or environmental focus study with ICER staff, and
undergraduates can sign up for ecotourism field courses that are conducted both
in Australia and as far away as Nepal and Ecuador.
George Washington University, Washington DC
Washington University offers
coursework in sustainable tourism destination
the university’s website says emphasises “minimizing the negative impacts of
tourism and preserving cultural and natural resources, while optimizing
tourism’s overall contribution to economic development in host communities”. The School of Business’ master of tourism
administration includes courses on cultural heritage tourism and
ecotourism, and students can also earn a professional certificate in tourism
destination management. The school’s International
Institute of Tourism Studies works with students and faculty in other
countries on tourism development projects, among other initiatives.
Lori Robertson writes
the Ethical Traveller column for BBC Travel. You can send ethical dilemmas to email@example.com.