The purpose of this study is to investigate the potential for environmental and social impacts from university-level educational travel programs.
This study analyzes the sites visited by 17 education travel programs to the Westfjords (Iceland) from 2014 to 2016. It uses a geographic information system (GIS) project to examine the potential for environmental and social impacts from these programs on local communities and environments. It compares them with similar data on general tourism to the region.
The results reveal that educational travel programs visit sites that are generally in moderately sensitive areas environmentally and socially. They visit different sites from general tourists and sites that are more sensitive environmentally and socially.
The research area was limited to the Westfjords of Iceland, and thus, the results may not apply globally to all educational travel destinations.
These findings suggest that education travel programs carried out by and for universities the potential to have negative effects on the locations they visit. Universities need to design their educational travel programs so as to limit such impacts to host environments and communities and explicitly educate student participants about sustainable travel behaviors.
This is the first study to combine GIS with several environmental and social metrics to assess impacts from educational travel programs. Further, it is the first study to map the frontstage–backstage continuum as a quantitative metric.
This study was supported by funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (IZK0Z2_171645) and from Franklin University Switzerland’s Faculty Development Funds. The author would like to thank Dr Peter Weiss, Pernilla Rein and the staff at Háskólasetrið Vestfjarða for their support with this project, Astrid Fehling for assistance with the GIS project, Thórir Örn Guðmundsson for help with the itineraries and Ólafur Arnalds and Sigmundur Helgi Brink for the GIS data on soils. He also thanks S. Steinert-Borella, L. Granese and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on previous drafts. Any remaining errors are his own.
Hale, B. (2019), "Understanding potential impacts from university-led educational travel", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 245-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-09-2018-0163Download as .RIS
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