New Fully Online Degree Provides Skills to Tourism Industry Using Sustainable Practices | News from the FIU
Starting in the spring of 2022, the FIU will offer a fully online bachelor’s degree in global sustainable tourism that will arm graduates to be champions of sustainability in the ever-dynamic hospitality and tourism industry.
With few comparable programs across the country, the new FIU program is unique because it offers an interdisciplinary approach to sustainable practices, says Joseph Cilli, department chair and director of distance learning for the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
“The program addresses the most pressing issues facing the industry today, its impact on the planet and the growing public demand for hospitality companies to adopt sustainable practices, ”said Cilli, who brought to life on the program based on industry trends and needs.
Before the pandemic took hold, Cilli realized the economic impact of lost tourism and the need to protect natural resources like those found in Florida, a state whose economy relies heavily on hospitality and tourism. When the pandemic and the industry experienced severe financial impacts from COVID-19, he saw the need as vital. The team he assembled to help create the program aimed to create a degree that would produce graduates fully grounded in building resilience for the industry. Simply, if you protect natural resources, you protect tourism money, he explains.
The unique, fully online program offered through the Chaplin School, is a collaboration with the Department of Earth and Environment of the College of Arts, Sciences and Education and offers a blended curriculum made up of the most relevant existing courses from each department as well as a host of new courses specifically designed for the degree.
“It’s about the well-being of the planet, of people and of tourists,” explains Carolin Lusby, assistant professor at the Chaplin school and co-director of the new curriculum. “The philosophical premise of this degree is that in order to survive as an industry and maintain our quality of life, we have to manage tourism in a whole new way.”
John Buschman, lecturer at the Chaplin School and co-director of the new program, explains that along with several renowned environmental scientists on the faculty, the program brings together the business and sustainable dimensions of tourism, as well as the governance of the industry. In this sense, the Chaplin School has received letters of support for the program from the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, which markets the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel in Florida, as well as the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism, which promotes awareness and management of Florida’s natural and cultural heritage.
Lusby points out that the changes that have come about as a result of the pandemic have offered time to reflect on what the future would look like in the world as things return to normal. It highlights the importance of the rebound in the hospitality and tourism industry while prioritizing environmental stewardship.
Students pursuing this degree will learn to apply their skills and lead through advocacy, conservation and community partnerships. Topics covered in the program include socio-economic, environmental and cultural impacts as it relates to responsible business practices and local governance. David Bray, professor in the Department of Earth and Environment and co-director of the program, notes that “the main objective of the program is to teach students how tourism can adapt and mitigate climate change and become a sector. key in the transition to low carbon savings.
“Tourism is Florida’s biggest industry and it’s important to the livelihoods of everyone across the state,” says Buschman.
Emerging and growing field
The developing area, says Buschman, offers the hospitality and tourism industry a path to sustainable development. He says collaboration between industry, governing bodies and environmental causes is the future of the industry and says jobs are growing around the world.
A Green Lodging Trends survey (2019) indicated that 65% of hotel and tourism companies employ a dedicated sustainability coordinator and up to 90% provide sustainability training to staff, either with their own staff or through through consultants and training experts. Types of businesses include tour operators, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, convention and hospitality offices, theme parks, festivals, destination management companies, and transportation companies.
According to reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, annual salaries averaged $ 71,360 per year for sustainability professionals, although not specific to the sustainable tourism segment, with an expected growth of 8%. (double the national average) for specialists.
“The degree prepares for a goal-oriented career that addresses our most pressing issues in a holistic and collaborative way,” concludes Lusby.