Diagram of Multidisciplinary

Diagram of Multidisciplinary



Date: / April 5, 2008
Constituent Institution: / East Carolina University
School/College: / Division of Research and Graduate Studies / Department: / Center for Sustainable Tourism
Program Identification:
CIP Discipline Specialty Title: / Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other
CIP Discipline Specialty Code: / 30.9999 123.000 / Level: B / M / X / CAS
Exact Title of the Proposed Degree: / Master of Science in Sustainable Tourism
Exact Degree Abbreviation (e.g., BS, BA, MA, MS, CAS) / MS
Does the proposed program constitute a substantive change as defined by SACS? / Yes / No / X
a) Is it at a more advanced level than those previously authorized? / Yes / No / X
b) Is the proposed program in a new discipline division? / Yes / No / X
Approximate date for submitting the request to establish proposal (must be within one year of date of submission of notification of intent to plan): / May, 2009
Proposed date to establish degree (month and year): (Date can be no sooner than six months after the date of notification of intent to plan and must allow at least three months for review of the request to establish, once submitted). / January, 2010

1.Describe the proposed new degree program. The description should include

a)a brief description of the program and a statement of educational objectives

The master of science in sustainable tourism (MS-ST) will be a interdisciplinary degree program housed in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies and administered by the Center for Sustainable Tourism (CST). The MS-ST is being charted and supported by the College of Health and Human Performance, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies; the College of Human Ecology, Department of Hospitality Management; the Departments of Geography, Economics, and History, in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences; and the College of Business.

The U.S. tourism industry is one of America’s largest retail industries with an estimated $699.9 billion in total expenditures, employing 7.5 million people (Travel Industry Association of America). Recent surveys and forecasts confirm that tourism will continue to be one of the fastest growing industries within the United States. There is reason to expect by 2010, tourism expenditures in the U.S. will be over $700 billion and produce over 8 million jobs. In fact, tourism, the third largest retail industry in the United States, is increasing rapidly and in great need of well-trained and educated managers as well as competent researchers and educators. Economic planners tell us that tourism, properly researched, organized, and developed, provides an economic engine that can increase economic development, create new jobs, generate additional income, spawn new businesses, diversify the local economy, add new products, promote economic integration, produce tax revenues, and improve the quality of life of the local citizenry. In addition, researchers are beginning to identify and verify that “sustainable tourism” is the preferred strategy for long-term economic, environmental, and social development for most communities.

Why focus on sustainable tourism? Tourism is a unique industry as it requires people to move to their destination rather than moving a product to the marketplace. It is arguably the largest industry in the World and has tremendous impact on the environment through its demand for, and use of, energy, water, and natural resources. Over the years, the growth of tourism has been powered mainly by fossil fuel which comes at an increasing environmental cost. This in turn threatens the long-term health of tourism businesses and pristine environments throughout the World.

On another front, climate variability and seasonality affects an often vulnerable tourism industry through its impact on business operations, community economies, and tourist travel behavior. Unfavorable climate conditions compel businesses to shorten traditional profit-making seasons, and in some cases raise prices or invest in alternative business activities to help cover economic losses. For example, prolonged periods of rainfall negatively influence tourist willingness to go whitewater rafting, camping, or golfing. And historically, below average snowpack and streamflows lowers revenue generated by snow and water-based recreation industries in comparison to wet years. Poor snowpack conditions in some years also increase operational expenses for snowmaking at ski resorts, contributing to increases in lift ticket prices.

Considering the impact that seasonal climate variability already has on tourism, projected impacts tied to rising temperatures threatens the long-term livelihood of many tourism industries across North Carolina and beyond. Local communities dependent upon tourism are impacted by climate variability and change both seasonally and annually and are challenged in their efforts to retain stable business activity and permanent residents throughout the year. Real estate, particularly vacation or second homes, has become an important factor in local economies over the past twenty years to the extent that local residents are increasingly pressured economically to move away from resort centers due to rising real estate prices in immediate surrounding areas. Arguably, the future of resort economies in the face of a highly variable climate might lie in high-dollar residential and retirement communities.

There is not a sector of the tourism industry today that is not embracing sustainable practices in an effort to save money, increase profits, or simply because it is in the best interests of the local, national and world environment. Such practices include management and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of solid waste and water consumption, wastewater management, conservation and management of energy, ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, land use planning and management, air quality protection, preservation of social norms and cultures and provision of economic benefits to local and indigenous communities, responsible purchasing and training and education in sustainability for employees and clients.

Additionally, the University of North Carolina Tomorrow Commission notes in its draft summary of recommendations (p. 1) that the UNC should embrace sustainability as a core value, leverage its faculty research expertise to address critical environmental and energy issues, and increase community awareness of environmental and sustainability issues. The draft report goes on to note that the UNC should prepare its students for successful professional and personal lives in the 21st century equipping them with the tools they will need to adapt to the every-changing (sustainable) world.

This proposed new degree program will address this need by providing a graduate educational opportunity in sustainable tourism that will incorporate policy, planning, research, management (relevant to people, place, activities), development, and resource principles in their applications in today’s global society. The proposed MS-ST degree program at ECU will be the cornerstone in North Carolina for quality sustainable tourism education.

This MS-ST degree program will be the focal point for preparing a cadre of qualified ECU graduate students with the skills, knowledge, and experience to become professionals and leaders in the tourism industry locally, regionally, state-wide, nationally, and internationally. Today’s tourism professional must be multifaceted — capable of interpreting data, recognizing trends, making sound management decisions, directing employees, seeking funding options, writing publication materials, accessing sound science, promoting destinations, and much more. In short, the MS-ST will be a degree program that prepares individuals in the principles, procedures, and operations of the global tourism industry. This degree program will include instruction in leisure, hospitality, and cultural geography; tourism planning, policy, and regulation; economics; the arts and culture; demographics of place; and related business and financial management practices with a central theme of sustainability.

The MS-ST degree program will

 provide a strong foundation for career advancement, future doctoral studies, and, ultimately, executive and senior level positions within the many and varied public, private and non-profit tourism entities;

 provide recent graduates from undergraduate programs at both ECU and across North Carolina, an outstanding graduate degree program opportunity in tourism, most specifically, sustainable tourism;

 provide technical consultation and planning advice to local communities, businesses and non-governmental organizations interested in improving and expanding their tourism potential;

 provide culturally diverse coursework specific to the unique business practices needed in tourism that will prepare students to meet the challenges of living and working in a global community;

 meet emerging industry demand for degreed professionals who can manage complex sustainable tourism environments;

 provide individuals who are interested in transitioning from their current level of employment to higher positions in tourism that call for more advanced study;

 provide eduational advancement and applied research opportunities to the emerging numbers of community college personnel needed to prepare students for jobs and careers in tourism;

 recruit and support outstanding faculty committed to quality teaching, research, and community activities in all components of sustainable tourism including leisure and recreation, hospitality, social and physical sciences, medicine, business, information technology and the arts.

Students in sustainable tourism will be recognized throughout North Carolina and the country for their knowledge and skills in the application of sustainable practices in tourism which contribute to the protection and preservation of our precious environmental and human resources. They will

 possess in-depth knowledge regarding complex management and leadership actions in sustainable tourism for public and private (non-profit, governmental and for-profit) tourism entities;

 demonstrate the ability to assess the adequacy of scientific practice in water, energy, climate and natural resource management;

 understand state-of-the art technologies and their applications to tourism-related subjects for use in research, grant writing, conferences, publications, and speaking engagements;

 critique and evaluate industry policies, practices, and performance;

 exhibit leadership, organizational abilities, and interpersonal and advocacy skills, including the ability to communicate effectively with internal and external groups.

 employ critical thinking skills, research skills, and analyitical abilties through interaction with local communities, governmental entities, educational institutions, and tourism businesses;

 acquire competency in the advancement of policy, planning, and management practices in sustainable tourism through applied research;

 master the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to become leaders in state, national, and international tourism associations and organizations, government agencies, and small businesses and corporations;

 use appropriate skills to consult with local communities throughout North Carolina, especially in eastern North Carolina, in strategic planning and system’s implementation and management of sustainable tourism.

b)the relationship of the proposed new program to the institutional mission and how the program fits into the institution’s strategic plan

ECU is fully committed to excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement. The teaching and research missions address the provision of a rich graduate education, including the foundation for professional practice through applied research and enriching the cultural activities for students throughout the university. The ECU strategic plan, which provides for the implementation of these goals, includes efforts to expand educational opportunities; enhance the learning environment; increase the productivity of faculty, staff, and students; extend the leadership and partnership roles of ECU in eastern North Carolina; and provide leadership in the application of information technology in protecting the environmental qualities of the region and state.

With respect to ECU’s vision, mission, and strategic plan, the fields of tourism, leisure, and hospitality are exponentially important to students’ education, applied research, and the region’s economic and cultural well-being. Given ECU’s strategic location in the heart of eastern North Carolina and its proximity to two metropolitan centers, the university can provide students with multi-faceted avenues for employment in the tourism industry. The MS-ST degree program will also serve as an extension for industry-related research, forecasting, and meeting the dynamic challenges of the tourism industry.

ECU is committed to increasing its partnerships and outreach, which will contribute positively to the state’s economic growth. North Carolina’s Department of Commerce is targeting the tourism industry as a growth catalyst for the state. ECU can engage itself in this process of growth by providing well-educated graduates in tourism for the private and public sector; by conducting research in areas where there is commercial potential; by helping to transfer technology to the marketplace; by identifying economic, environmental, cultural, and social trends; and by working with communities to improve their quality of life. Tourism also has economic spin-offs into other sectors such as communication, energy, agriculture, construction, transportation, and rural development. In brief, the MS-ST degree program will be an integral part of ECU’s outreach efforts by providing technical advice and leadership to local communities and businesses interested in improving and expanding their tourism potential.

The MS-ST degree program’s aim is to become one of the most respected graduate-level tourism education programs in the state and nation through advanced educational development, integration of disciplines, and dissemination of knowledge related to all aspects of tourism, with special emphasis on sustainability. In the future, this degree program will be recognized for creating a greater understanding of tourism and its role in the economic, environmental, cultural, and social development in eastern North Carolina and throughout the state. The highest goal of the MS-ST degree program is to prepare students seeking careers in the tourism industry to be effective leaders and community decision-makers through quality sustainable tourism education, research, and community engagement.

c)the relationship of the proposed new program to other existing programs at the institution

The MS-ST degree program will be interdisciplinary and effectively meld current course offerings from a number of ECU colleges and programs into its curriculum. This degree program will be housed in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies with administrative responsibility assigned to the NCCST. The College of Health and Human Performance, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Departments of Geography, Economics, and History, the College of Human Ecology, Department of Hospitality Management, and the College of Business are joining in all aspects of the degree program offerings, faculty, staff, facilities, and student sharing, facilitating the development of this degree program and course content. The four colleges have been working collaboratively on the new degree program by means of joint planning meetings, in which the department chairs and involved faculty members have been determining their investment in this proposed degree program. All identified entities are committed to involve their faculty, facilities, and services. Several additional ECU programs have also been identified with which the MS-ST degree program will collaborate, coordinate, and cooperate in developing an effective interdisciplinary approach to sustainable tourism education, for example, the Center for Agromedicine. (Please see diagram at the end of this report.)

With respect to community engagement in this degree program, there will be a close working relationship with the ECU Office of Economic Development (OED), especially with the Regional Development Institute, the Small Business and Technology Development Center, the Rural Outreach Network, and the Center for Survey Research. NCCST in partnership with OED can effectively utilize graduate students in tourism to help service the frequent requests received for tourism expertise throughout eastern North Carolina. The College of Business is also an important resource for the MS-ST degree program. Graduate courses in decision sciences, finance, management, and marketing are all possible inclusions in this proposed degree program as are the experiences in research available through the Bureau of Business Research. Additional programs and offerings, such as urban and regional planning (URP) program within the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences offer other opportunities for coordination and cooperation with this MS-ST degree program. URP has ongoing offerings that can be of assistance to tourism development, strategic planning, and the possible development of an MIS system for tourism. Finally, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, the College of Technology and Computer Sciences, the College of Education, the College of Nursing and the Brody School of Medicine also offer special resources that can ultimately benefit the MS-ST degree program.

d)special features or conditions that make the institution a desirable, unique, or appropriate place to initiate such a degree program.

Today, tourism is recognized in most parts of the world as an important economic, environmental, and social development phenomenon. Globally, the tourism industry has a US$7.1 trillion impact on the world’s economy (Travel and Tourism Research Association, 2007) with domestic travelers contributing $15.4 billion to North Carolina’s economy (NC Department of Commerce, 2007). As a result, there is a need for comprehensive research and educational programs focusing on all aspects of tourism. The proposed MS-ST degree program is a first step in addressing some of the significant research and teaching needs of the tourism industry in North Carolina and across the world. Simultaneously, the degree program will help enlarge, enrich, and enhance efforts of ECU to conduct important new tourism initiatives, especially with respect to tourism in North Carolina. Moreover, it provides the opportunity for research into the economic, business, policy, planning, geographical, natural resources, social, environmental, economic, entreprenurial, and leisure aspects of tourism; travel decision-making processes; tools for marketing and promoting tourism; new rural tourism initiatives; and the development of state, national, and global tourism information systems.