Overcommitted to tourism and under committed to sustainability: the urgency of teaching 'strong sustainability' in tourism courses

Article


Cotterell, Debbie, Hales, Robert, Arcordia, Charles and Ferreira, Jo-Anne. 2019. "Overcommitted to tourism and under committed to sustainability: the urgency of teaching 'strong sustainability' in tourism courses." Journal of Sustainable Tourism. 27 (7), pp. 882-902. https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2018.1545777
Article Title

Overcommitted to tourism and under committed to sustainability: the urgency of teaching 'strong sustainability' in tourism courses

ERA Journal ID5856
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsCotterell, Debbie (Author), Hales, Robert (Author), Arcordia, Charles (Author) and Ferreira, Jo-Anne (Author)
Journal TitleJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Journal Citation27 (7), pp. 882-902
Number of Pages21
Year2019
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN0966-9582
1747-7646
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2018.1545777
Web Address (URL)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09669582.2018.1545777
Abstract

With the tourism sector being urged to contribute to the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), tourism educators need to develop industry leaders with 'strong sustainability' mindsets. 'Sustainable development' has long been contested as a weaker form of sustainability due to its 'pro-growth' emphasis. Research suggests that tourism students are graduating with narrow understandings of sustainability, partly due to course designs based on weaker conceptualisations of sustainability and a lack of holistic, critical and systemic thinking. The purpose of this paper is to analyse – using content analysis – the strength of sustainability conceptualisations underpinning international undergraduate sustainable tourism courses, which has not previously been carried out. Results indicate that sustainable tourism courses do not include 'very strong' conceptualisations of sustainability, and that sustainability pedagogy and approaches such as systems and holistic thinking are not widely used. This paper argues that stronger conceptualisations and sustainability skills are essential. A framework is also suggested to assist tourism educators to use critical reflective thinking in conjunction with the SDGs to assist the development of more complex ways of thinking and acting towards achieving global sustainable tourism outcomes. The discussion concludes with suggestions for further research to ensure stronger sustainable tourism curricula.

KeywordsCritical thinking; strong sustainability; sustainable development goals (SDGs; sustainability skills; tourism curricula
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390114. Vocational education and training curriculum and pedagogy
390102. Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development
Byline AffiliationsGriffith University
Southern Cross University
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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