Sustainable Tourism track

Cross-disciplinary with the School of Travel Industry Management

The relationship between tourism and the natural environment is intimate and complex. The desire for contact with nature drives enormous volumes of tourism, yielding not only tourist spending, associated jobs, and tax revenues, but also pollution, waste, and over-development resulting from the transportation of masses of people and the construction and operation of tourism-related facilities. Indeed, such pollution, waste, and over-development diminish the quality of the very environments that impel nature-based tourism to begin with. In addition, issues such as food security, water scarcity, overpopulation, urban sprawl, pesticide use, global warming, rising sea levels, and depletion of resources on land and in the sea are just a few of the pressing environmental issues that affect the attractiveness, competitiveness, and sustainability of destinations throughout the world.

The Sustainable Tourism track in the Global Environmental Science program will empower undergraduate students to understand, grapple with, and help resolve these issues by concentrating their academic studies on the vital nexus between tourism and the environment. In this track, students will gain the basic scientific knowledge necessary to understand the underlying science of the environment while concurrently learning tourism concepts and management principles that are essential for establishing cause-and-effect relationships between environmental and tourism-related conditions, trends, and issues. They will also learn how to achieve higher levels of environmental sustainability through more enlightened tourism policy, planning, and management and gain an appreciation of the compromises that sometimes must be made to accommodate economic development and environmental preservation goals. Graduates will be uniquely positioned for careers as planners, specialists, and consultants employed by government agencies required to prepare environmental impact studies and/or tourism plans, consulting firms that prepare such studies and/or plans for government agencies, and nonprofit organizations that operate tourism “ecocertification” programs that provide tourism-related businesses with credentials of their “greenness”.

This track requires the following four Coupled Systems courses; each course is three credits.

  • TIM 321 Sociocultural Issues in Tourism
  • TIM 324 Geography of Global Tourism
  • TIM 415 Nature-Based Tourism Management
  • TIM 420 Sustainable Tourism Policies and Practices


Students interested in the Sustainable Tourism track should seek advising from GES and/or the Track Coordinator, Dr. Daniel Spencer (TIM faculty).