Palma, from 23 to 25 October 2013
Celebrating and Enhancing the Tourism
Knowledge-based Platform: A Tribute to Jafar Jafari


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General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 24 October, 2013 15:45 to 16:05 Oral Communication
Studying Tourism: Where's the Humanity in It?
Speaker: Kellee Caton, Thompson Rivers University

Authors: Kellee Caton


It is now becoming commonplace to hear critiques from those working in the area of tourism pedagogy that the contemporary curriculum is overly vocational, being bent toward the development of skills and competencies for handling tourism as a business activity, at the expense of providing students with the chance to explore their chosen field through a more liberal model of higher education. Indeed, tourism is more than the sale of hotel rooms, restaurant meals, and tours of interesting sites. It is an activity through which people from different cultures, with different personalities and life histories, encounter one another and one another’s spaces. It is a domain highly inflected by power relations, and it has the capacity to engender a host of troublesome impacts, but also to serve as a profound space of possibility for positive change. This growing recognition of tourism as a worldmaking force is indeed the driver behind calls for curriculum development beyond the narrow confines of a vocationalistic, or even a managerialistic, model. Critiques of the traditional shape of the curriculum typically draw on the idea of tourism studies as a bisected field--with one portion addressing its business-oriented features and the other portion being dedicated to its analysis from a social science perspective--and argue that both of these elements need to be represented in educational practice. Rarely considered, however, is the role the humanities could play in fostering more relevant and engaging educational experiences in preparing tomorrow’s leaders in our field. Similarly, scholars working in the area of tourism epistemology have long noted tourism studies’ overly positivistic bent. Although our field shows increasing openness to alternative perspectives on knowledge production, we can still be argued to largely fall short of embracing the most open and creativity-oriented approaches currently in practice across the intellectual landscape, such as arts-based research; notably, we lag well behind other social science fields, in particular education, on this front. In his seminal paper “The Truth about Tourism,” Tribe asks us to consider what blinders we may be wearing when we seek to advance tourism knowledge. Is it possible that our current approach systematically reveals only part of the truth? And indeed might our very definition of “truth”--grounded as it is in social science and business perspectives--be constraining what we can know and understand about tourism? This conceptual treatise considers the current state of affairs in tourism pedagogy and epistemology and then makes a case for the heavier inclusion of philosophy and the arts in tourism education and knowledge production, by exploring the many benefits the humanities can provide for our field. Such benefits--which can accrue both in the classroom and in the body of tourism knowledge--include philosophy’s ability, in the words of Richard Rorty, to help us “hold our time in thought” and the ability of the arts to help us destabilize taken-for-granted assumptions and create alternate, imaginative spaces from which the real world can be effectively critiqued. In making the case for these (and other) benefits of the humanities for tourism studies, the paper draws upon scholarship from evolutionary psychology, education, and philosophy and the arts themselves to offer an interdisciplinary exploration of the need for our field--which is grounded in the study of humans by humans--to find its very human soul.
Further information:

Submited paper (31 KB)

Session 3 – Critical curriculum development
Place: Room SB04

Other activities in Session 3 – Critical curriculum development
16:05 h. to 16:25 h.Oral Communication

Sexual Harassment, Tourism and Education

Speaker: Avital Biran, Bournemouth University, Senior Lecturer in Tourism
Speaker: Yael Ram, Ashkelon Academic College
Speaker: John  Tribe, University of Surrey, UK
16:25 h. to 16:45 h.Oral Communication

Rethinking Caribbean Tourism Education: the way forward

Speaker: Acolla Lewis, University of the West Indies, St Augustine