Topics covered include socioeconomic, environmental and cultural impacts with respect to responsible business practices and local governance. David Bray, a professor who specializes in natural resources management, says “the overarching thrust of the program is to teach students how tourism can adapt to and mitigate climate change and become a key sector in the transition to low-carbon economies.”
He adds, “What this does is train a new generation of people who see their career in tourism but are much more deeply informed on the science, the environmental policy and who understand the urgency of doing this.”
Interest in such a sustainability pathway is growing nationally and internationally. Buschman cites organizations like Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International, where prior to the pandemic he annually took FIU students to see their sustainability processes, as a frontrunner.
“Within the last 10 years, the intersection between environmental sciences and hospitality has gained momentum,” he says.
A Green Lodging Trends survey (2019) indicated that 65 percent of hospitality and tourism businesses employ a dedicated sustainability coordinator and as many as 90 percent are conducting staff training in sustainability either with their own staff or through hired consultants and training experts. The types of businesses include tour companies, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, convention and visitors bureaus, theme parks, festivals, destination management companies and transportation companies.
As part of her studies, global sustainable tourism student Nicole Scott conducted a personal sustainability audit to understand how the products she uses might affect the earth and which might be either expendable or replaceable. It was an exercise she hopes to repeat on a large scale over the course of her future career as she strives to make a positive impact within the field and, by extension, on the world.
“This is one of the only schools in the country that has a program like this,” Scott says of what brought her to FIU. “This was just the absolute perfect blend of hospitality and environment.”
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