Teaching for strong sustainability in university tourism courses

Cotterell, Debbie and Arcordia, Charles and Ferreira, Jo-Anne (2017) Teaching for strong sustainability in university tourism courses. In: Handbook of teaching and learning in tourism. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, Cheltenham, United Kingdom, pp. 373-388. ISBN 978-1-78471-479-6


An important outcome of a university business education is shaping individuals who are capable of working in and operating businesses that deliver economically profitable, socially responsible and ecologically viable services. In preparing future sustainable tourism workers, universities also need to design curricula that develop the learners’ skills in critical thinking and foreseeing the implications of their actions, along with a sense of ethics and empathy. Research evidence indicates, however, that learners often graduate without these skills. A possible reason for this may be that the design of tourism curricula is based on a weak conceptualization of sustainability (e.g. triple bottom line) as opposed to a strong conceptualization of sustainability. Another possible reason could be that educators are not successfully cultivating the learners’ capabilities to think in more complex ways about sustainability nor do they adequately engage with the ways in which learners make sense of the concept. This chapter discusses the strength of the conceptualizations of sustainability currently underpinning university undergraduate tourism courses. The aim is to outline how learners might acquire knowledge about sustainability and to examine the potential of current pedagogy within Education for Sustainability (EfS) for teaching more complex understandings of sustainability. Novel teaching and learning approaches are discussed including systems thinking, which enables a strong conceptualization of sustainability, and variation theory, which uses the learners’ understandings as the starting point for learning. Future directions for EfS in tourism are also reflected upon. This chapter argues that universities are capable of ensuring that graduates are prepared for working in the sustainable tourism industry if they become more mindful of the ways in which they teach – and the ways in which learners learn – about sustainability.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to documents in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2021 02:37
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2021 02:26
Uncontrolled Keywords: tourism courses; university; higher education; sustainability
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130299 Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
13 Education > 1399 Other Education > 139999 Education not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390114 Vocational education and training curriculum and pedagogy
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781784714802.00036
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/41618

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