Immersive Course Gives Students Unique Perspective on Hospitality, Tourism, and Sustainability
As part of a “Global Sustainable Tourism Management” course, students explored the sustainability of countries and industries around the world and visited a local hotel that is emerging as a leader in sustainability.
May 10, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
When Aphrodite Hall ’24 was a kid, she enjoyed visiting aquariums. She hopes to use her “huge passion” for the ocean and marine life to make a positive impact on the marine environment. That passion inspired a recent sustainability-focused project she completed as part of a course at the University.
Hall took “Global Sustainable Tourism Management” during the spring semester, a course offered as part of the University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program. She used the opportunity to explore, as part of her research project and presentation, the importance of sustainability when it comes to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
The project – the first poster assignment Hall has completed – was also an opportunity for her to explore her new major. She recently switched from psychology to hospitality and tourism management.
“I learned a lot about sustainability from this,” she said. “I hear people talk about it, but they don’t always know the scientific components of it. This was a great project for me, and it was my first project that focused on this field. It was a good introduction to what it’s like to do this kind of research.”
‘I should research countries before visiting’
As part of the assignment, students chose a country outside of the U.S. and Canada as well as an industry. They explored factors such as corporate social responsibility as well as the U.N.’s sustainability goals, they then developed a case study highlighting efforts of a particular company in reaching sustainability goals. Students wrote papers discussing their research and created posters and presentations, which they shared with their class as well as the University community.
For Ariana Melendez ’24, her lifelong interest in visiting New Zealand inspired her project. While conducting her research, she was impressed by not only the country’s remarkable beauty, but also by its focus on protecting the environment while showcasing its culture. Melendez says this project has given her a new perspective on traveling, and it will inform her own future travels.
“Now when I do visit, I know their efforts are sustainable, and I’ll feel good about going,” said Melendez, a hospitality and tourism management major. “This project put into perspective for me that I should research countries before visiting. People are working to make good decisions for their countries, and the least we can do is research that and respect it. I’m inspired to do this with every country I visit now, and I hope other countries will follow New Zealand’s lead.”
Dr. Jones says the tourism industry used to be “one of the worst” when it comes to sustainability, but it has made great strides in focusing more on protecting the environment. Efforts range from use of renewable energy in hotels to replacing single-use plastic bottles of shampoo and soap with dispensers.
“It’s very important that we offer a class about this in our program at the University,” she said. “I’m so proud of our students. I was really impressed with all their projects.”
‘That boosted my confidence’
As part of an event held at the University’s Orange Campus, students presented their posters to the University community and to industry leaders who visited to see the students’ work. Three of the students – the top three student presentations, as decided in their class – also delivered their presentations. Zachary Priest ’24 discussed the environmental impact of the ski industry in Austria, Sadie Fraser-Read ’23 explained the impact of tourism in Iceland, and Jaliya Monte ’24 highlighted a sustainability-focused restaurant in Spain.
The class was an exciting opportunity for hospitality and tourism management majors – as well as for students in other majors who were part of the class. Tarel Troutman ’24 focused on cruise lines – in particular, Royal Caribbean. While conducting his research, Troutman, who has cruised with Carnival but not with Royal Caribbean, learned the cruise line is “very sustainable.”
Troutman noted that Royal Caribbean is committed to reducing its environmental impact, from using LED lighting on ships to employing fuel-efficient engines. He also took away important skills that he says he will bring to his coursework as a sport management major.
“The way our presentation assignment was structured was very helpful,” he said. “Previously, I could be wordy, but I learned to be concise when putting my poster together. People were surprised to learn how sustainable Royal Caribbean is, and they complimented me on my work. That boosted my confidence.”