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How can tourism education contribute to sustainability?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences, Industrial Engineering & Management.
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In September 2018 a new masters programme in Sustainable Destination Development starts at Uppsala university, at campus Gotland. We hope for a sustainable tourism education, a hope we share with many others involved in tourism education. The development of STP, sustainable tourism pedagogy, and TEFI, the Tourism education futures initiative, are examples of the same ambition.

 

What may be a bit different with our initiative is the scope of our ambition. Whereas United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 1997) describes sustainable tourism as meeting the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for tourism for the future, our ambition is wider. Our ambition is not limited to the sphere of tourism, but to create tourism that increases overall sustainability, making the world more sustainable than it would be without it.

 

How do we hope to manage such a difficult task? We use ESD, Education for Sustainable Development. I suggest that the contribution of our work to tourism in the anthroposcene is exactly that, to connect STP with ESD. This links tourism education directly to Agenda 2030, the 17 global sustainability goals, and the Global Action Plan to implement them, for which ESD has been developed. Through the link to ESD, STP may connect to global sustainability goals number 4, quality education for all, and 8, decent work and economic growth, specifically 8.9, sustainable tourism.  

 

ESD, education for sustainable development, is a broad concept. It is based in the idea that change is needed for sustainability, both change of conventional curricula and teaching, and change as the core aim of education, to enable students to become change agents. Sustainability issues are often conceptualized as so called wicked problems, also a broad term, denoting problems that are complex, impossible to solve once and for all, but which rather needs to be dealt with continuously, and for which there are no right/wrong solutions, but rather more or less good/bad ways of dealing with them. Wicked problems are also considered to be problems that cannot be dealt with by the same methods that caused them, therefore needing new ways of doing things. Tourism can easily be argued to be wicked problems.

 

Research on ESD often claim that what is needed for sustainability are competences, rather than only fact-based knowledge. Competences enable students to act on the basis of knowledge. There are different ways of describing such competences. Wiek et. al. (2011), synthesizes 43 research articles on competences for sustainability, and conclude that the competences can be summarized into five: systems thinking competence, strategic competence, analytic competence, normative competence and interpersonal competence.

 

ESD also often attempts for participatory and transformative learning situation, rather than conventional authoritative and transmission situations (Heila et. al. 2015). This implies that students must be active, working with real problems and learn from each other to create their own knowledge, rather than being passive receivers of ready-made knowledge from the teacher.

 

The content of ESD is thus is similar rather than different to the TEFI core values of ethics, stewardship, knowledge, professionalism and mutuality between stakeholders. It is also similar rather than different to Jamal, Tallon & Dredge´s (2011) technical, analytical, ecological, multi-cultural, ethical, policy- and political literacies. If what ESD can do is so similar to STP, what value does ESD add to tourism in the anthroposcene? The contribution of introducing ESD to tourism education is not that the content of it differs from STP, but rather that it creates new links that may make new, unexpected, things happen, as shown in our case.

 

Since our programme does not start until the fall of 2018, we cannot yet evaluate it in terms of outcome for students. The only thing we know so far is that we have some 200 international applicants, which is a lot on campus Gotland, a small island in the Baltic, and a popular destination in itself, facing both sustainability challenges and with many sustainability initiatives. We also know from the personal letters of the applicants that they choose our programme because of how we approach sustainability: theory combined with practice, outside classroom in the reality of destination development on Gotland as much as critical reflections in the classroom.

 

Even though we do not know the outcome of our efforts yet for students, our use of ESD has so far still had positive sustainability effects. Five other programmes on campus Gotland have joined us in our work with ESD, the programmes in management, cultural heritage, windpower, energy transition, and archeology. Now they also develop courses, curricula and activities in this vein. This includes;

- voluntary education of teachers on ESD for 7 full days, which 10 teachers participate in voluntary, and choose to squeeze into their full schedules without compensation,

- creation of a common infrastructure for voluntary community work for students and societal sustainability challenges and projects to work with in class,

- a joint, cross-programme introductory week on sustainability for students of six programmes, with a 3-day internship working with local sustainability challenges,

- an extra-curricular seminar series, “Sustainability talks”, for all campus students,

- collaboration with students´ initiative “Let´s talk about it”, with practical sustainability initiatives.

 

A result of using ESD has thus been the engagement of not only our programme  but the whole campus, which is turning into a sustainability hub. This might have been more difficult to achieve had we limited ourselves to STP, which would not have been so easy for others to connect to.

 

In this way our programme in a way seems to fulfill its ambition to contribute with more overall sustainability, in a very unexpected way, even before it has started. On the basis of this experience, it seems ESD may be one way in which tourism education in the anthroposcene can be in the forefront of sustainability work, in line with TEFI values.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Engineering and Technology
Research subject
Engineering Science with specialization in industrial engineering and management
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-353874OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-353874DiVA, id: diva2:1219635
Conference
Tourism Education Futures Initiative TEFI10 – Knowing with Nature Knowing with Nature – The future of tourism education in the Anthropocene TEFI10 Conference 3 - 6 June 2018, Pyhä, Finland
Available from: 2018-06-17 Created: 2018-06-17 Last updated: 2018-11-02Bibliographically approved

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http://tourismeducationfutures.org/tefi10-knowing-with-nature/

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Persson-Fischier, Ulrika

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