Courses offered at Harvard Extension between 2010 and 2021

ENVR E118A Ecotourism Businesses Development, Monitoring, Market Research & Investment Preparation

This course stressed the fundamentals of developing a tourism business in the 21st century which is managed with social and environmental indicators – from start-up to longer-term management systems primarily for small and medium sized enterprises.  Students analyzed local needs, regional and international markets, the thriving digital tourism economy, impact financing, and the wide range of supply chains all ecotourism businesses manage.

Each week students took on a new course component to build out their business model, by reviewing competition, evaluating conservation goals, and integrating social and community-based planning indicators, all based on the local context of their chosen project.  The Integrated Annual Reporting system was taught to create dynamic, triple-bottom line business plans.  Class discussions dug into financial, climate, conservation, and social enterprise indicators and management. 

Speakers included leading ecotourism business owners from Africa, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and North America and an interactive Harvard Business School case discussion focused on the three-part HBS business case on the company Wilderness Safaris, designed for the course. Instructors and guest speakers addressed the historic impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the travel sector, profile recent examples of ecotourism business growth, acquisition and consolidation, and shared the latest outlooks on impact and climate investment.

Instructors: Megan Epler Wood & O’Shannon Burns

ENVR E-118B Sustainable Tourism, Regional Planning, & Geodesign

This course introduced the basic principles of tourism master planning, enabling students to learn how communities, governments, business, and civil society can take a more inclusive and sustainable approach to planning tourism destinations worldwide. Students learned to present quantitative and qualitative economic, sociocultural, and environmental data, to determine the best management of vital natural and social resources, and to build scenarios that include the impacts of climate change, including approaches to mitigation and adaptation, over the next 20-30 years. A live interactive session was held using interactive geodesign methods to address key decisions in the process of design for tourism growth. Students participated in applying digital tools and analyses to a specific case. Each student generated scenarios and learned how to manage these scenarios through new approaches to governance.

Instructors: Megan Epler Wood, Dr. Vicente Molés, Dr. Stephen M. Ervin

ENVR E-118 Environmental Management of International Tourism Development

This course laid out the significance of the international tourism industry, which represents approximately 10.4% of the global economy.  It provided students with an understanding of how the tourism business operates, primarily focusing on mainstream tourism, its supply chains, and how each sector of the business approaches environmental management. The course took a look at the growth of tourism as an industry, how digital sales and marketing are transforming the sector, and its part in the rapid globalization of world economies. It discussed the industry’s particular impacts on emerging economies, its role in employment generation and economic development, and the current status of global dialog on green tourism growth. Speakers from business and government reflected on the management of sustainability for tourism. Students learned how the industry is presently managing air, energy, water, waste water, solid waste, sprawl, and ecosystem impacts, and how new systems for environmental management can be deployed at the business and destination level. Each week a different sector of the industry was covered, including hotels, tour operators, air carriers, airports and transport.  Special attention was given to the impacts of climate change on the tourism industry, as well as on issues of carbon management of the different sectors of the industry. A set of environmental and carbon assessment tools and methodologies was presented. Students learned how governments presently manage tourism, discussed how governance is changing, and reviewed prospects for further reform and considered innovative new systems for management of growth. 

Each lecture in the course addressed COVID-19 impacts on the sector of the industry and the destinations covered. In addition, there were overviews of the pandemic’s effects on the economic, social, and environmental conditions being faced by tourism-related businesses, government authorities, and local society in key destinations worldwide. 

To learn more about the course and to get a feel for Megan’s teaching style, watch her 9-minute video that introduces the course.

Instructor: Megan Epler Wood

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