Informing Sustainability Decisions: The Role of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Scholars in Addressing Unsustainability


  • Dan McCole
  • Christine Vogt


As policy makers, organizations, and citizens employ their resources toward the creation of more sustainable communities, scholars play an important role in outreach to introduce science- and evidence-based practices to a sustainable transition process. Goals that are implemented into programs, projects, or interventions become valuable applied science-based knowledge. This paper features three cases of academicians partnering with non-academic stakeholders to foster more sustainable planning, policy, and implementation in the parks, recreation, and tourism (PRT) field. Because of their long involvement with the concepts of sustainability, as applied to natural resources recreation and tourism, PRT scholars are well suited to contribute to initiatives that endeavor to create more sustainable communities, especially since many such efforts involve the use of natural resources for recreation and tourism purposes. However, in order to best add value to their contributions, it is critical that PRT scholars regularly examine and reflect upon their roles and actions in sustainability efforts. This paper aims to do that by presenting three cases and observing the roles and academic interventions of PRT scholars in broader community sustainability efforts. The cases utilize three different types of academic interventions; a mail survey, a two-year integrated assessment process, and a white paper policy analysis. The findings of the case studies contribute to the knowledge base and demonstrate examples of how parks, recreation, and tourism scholars can play an important role in community efforts toward sustainability.