Overcommitted to tourism and under committed to sustainability: the urgency of teaching 'strong sustainability' in tourism courses

Cotterell, Debbie and Hales, Robert and Arcordia, Charles and Ferreira, Jo-Anne (2019) Overcommitted to tourism and under committed to sustainability: the urgency of teaching 'strong sustainability' in tourism courses. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27 (7). pp. 882-902. ISSN 0966-9582


With the tourism sector being urged to contribute to the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), tourism educators need to develop industry leaders with 'strong sustainability' mindsets. 'Sustainable development' has long been contested as a weaker form of sustainability due to its 'pro-growth' emphasis. Research suggests that tourism students are graduating with narrow understandings of sustainability, partly due to course designs based on weaker conceptualisations of sustainability and a lack of holistic, critical and systemic thinking. The purpose of this paper is to analyse – using content analysis – the strength of sustainability conceptualisations underpinning international undergraduate sustainable tourism courses, which has not previously been carried out. Results indicate that sustainable tourism courses do not include 'very strong' conceptualisations of sustainability, and that sustainability pedagogy and approaches such as systems and holistic thinking are not widely used. This paper argues that stronger conceptualisations and sustainability skills are essential. A framework is also suggested to assist tourism educators to use critical reflective thinking in conjunction with the SDGs to assist the development of more complex ways of thinking and acting towards achieving global sustainable tourism outcomes. The discussion concludes with suggestions for further research to ensure stronger sustainable tourism curricula.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2021 03:05
Last Modified: 05 May 2021 05:21
Uncontrolled Keywords: Critical thinking; strong sustainability; sustainable development goals (SDGs; sustainability skills; tourism curricula
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390114 Vocational education and training curriculum and pedagogy
39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390102 Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2018.1545777
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/41627

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