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Walden Magazine // Jul 23, 2018

Beyond Borders: Expanding the Impact of Tourism Education

Dr. Lorie Tuma transforms college students into global citizens

Lorie Tuma
Dr. Lorie Tuma
Photo credit: Brad Ziegler

For most college students, losing their passport at the Cannes Film Festival would be the beginning of the story of how their trip to France went badly awry. But for one of Dr. Lorie Tuma’s students, it was one of the high points of the trip.

Tuma is a 2012 Doctor of Education (EdD) graduate and assistant professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. For the past 8 years, she has taken a group of students to Cannes each year as part of the international event management course she developed. The students work with industry professionals at the American Pavilion and other festival venues, gaining the kind of hands-on experience that will set them apart when they seek jobs in their field.

Rather than the lost passport becoming a crisis, it became a chance for the student to test his independence, resilience, and confidence as he traveled alone by train to the nearest U.S. Embassy several hours away.

His experience led him to the revelation that Tuma hopes all her students take away from her classes: They are global citizens in a world where there’s always something new to discover, not only about themselves but also about people and cultures very different from their own.

Tuma’s classes and the experiences she provides for her students locally, nationally, and internationally are part of her commitment to getting more people involved in sustainable tourism.

“The United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) created a plan to fight poverty, social inequalities, and climate change through sustainable tourism,” she says. “That means visitors, the tourism industry, and travel destinations take full account of the current and future social, economic, and environmental impact of tourism and work to protect against negative impacts like pollution, damage to local infrastructure, and loss or manipulation of native cultures.”

One way Tuma believes sustainable tourism can be promoted is through social media. She conducted a study, which she presented at a UNWTO meeting in Spain, that examined her students’ understanding of sustainable tourism and whether they shared their sustainable travels on social media.

“Several tourism ministers said they planned to share my ideas with their colleagues,” she says. She has written case studies that were shared with graduate students while she was serving as a visiting scholar at Vancouver Island University in Canada and was a speaker at the International Society of Travel and Tourism Educators conference in Germany.

Although social change has always been part of her life, it was her time at Walden that helped Tuma realize she could do more. “I had never connected the ability to create social change to my career,” she says. “When I started applying what I learned at Walden to my teaching, I realized I could extend the reach of my commitment through my students.

“Social change happens when we share our experiences—in person, through a blog or social media, and through our professions. We can all make a difference. Live your life consciously. Look for opportunities to make contributions to the world, and share those experiences to encourage others to do the same.”

— Susan Walker