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Wageningen University

Sustainable Tourism: Society & Environmental Aspects

Wageningen University via edX


Tourism’s profound impact on the world
Tourism continues to experiencing incredible growth. Of all the industries of major importance worldwide, Travel and Tourism directly contribute $1.4 trillion to the global economy and provides one out of ten jobs and that number is growing.

But tourism is more than just a powerful economic force. Tourist activities come with a host of social and environmental issues at tourism destinations. And return, tourism business itself is highly sensitive to global transformations such as changing consumer behaviour, economic developments, natural disaster, epidemics, or acts of terrorism. Tourism is in fact a complex phenomenon.

Introduction to tourism; an all-round perspective
Instead of taking on tourism education’s customary approach – that of growth driven, applied and hospitality management – join us to explore the tourism industry and build your own reflections. You'll be exposed to a variety of insights throughout the course. These include tourism's historical background and a variety of social science approaches will be looked at, with a special focus on the human geography of tourism. You will be exposed to the negative impacts on natural resources, the cultural heritage of host communities and climate change related issues, such as carbon emissions. Which role can sustainable tourism development play to address both the tourism associated economic benefits as well as the collateral costs for key stakeholders?

Based on weekly reflection exercises, you'll be challenged to form your own argument for a tourism development of your choice. You'll also help others by providing and receiving meaningful feedback on their critical reflections of tourism phenomena.

The effects of Corona virus on the tourism industry
There is no doubt that tourism has been greatly affected by the Covid 19 virus outbreak. With the upcoming attempt to rebound post-Corona, all players in the industry face a choice: will it be business as usual or do we re-invent toward more sustainable practices? But also, how has Corona effected tourists and their behaviour? We will discuss these and other highly relevant questions throughout our tourism courses.

For whom
Whether you are a business owner, work in tourism or an fervent traveller, join us for this MOOC for an science based understanding of what tourism does to our living environment, our behaviour and our cultural inheritance. Help drive sustainability in tourism. Subscribe now!

Professional Certificate Programme

This online course, ranked among the 10 best online courses in the world by Class Central, is part of the Professional Certificate Programme Tourism in Transition: Exploring a Sustainable Future, along with the MOOC Sustainable Tourism: Rethinking the Future, which was nominated for the annual edX® award in 2019 and the MOOC Tourism and Climate Change.


Module 1: Introduction & Overview
What is tourism, and how can you study it from a social sciences point of view?

Module 2: History of global tourism development
Where does tourism come from? We go back in time to understand where our contemporary tourism practices originate.

Module 3: Scientific approaches and systemic observations
What are typical social science approachesto tourism; including behavioral, cultural, and more critical observations? And to what kind of observations do these approaches lead?

Module 4: Key theories and global flows
Take notice of a set of typical theoretical concepts used in tourism studies, and become acquainted with how global tourism developments run parallel with rapidly developing flows of people, goods, technology, information,and capital.

Module 5: Environmental impacts of tourism
Take the main economic, socio-cultural, and environmental interactions and impacts generated by and in tourism.

Module 6: Synthesis and looking forward
Finalize your own argument related to a tourism development of your choice, and become familiar with the science of sustainable tourism.

Taught by

Arjaan Pellis and Jonas Skutka


4.6 rating, based on 159 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Sustainable Tourism: Society & Environmental Aspects

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This is one of the best courses for the tourism field. This is one of the best courses for the tourism field. This is one of the best courses for the tourism field. This is one of the best courses for the tourism field. This is one of the best courses...
  • Anonymous
    I found the course extremely interesting. I have learnt alot of things about factors effecting Tourism that i hadn't even realised especially for the need to preserve some environmental areas. I have discovered factors effecting the way we indulge in...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    The material is good and the case study assignment is also pretty well thought out. However, some of the tests are quite confusing, as there are many questions that are contradicting or have double negatives which might make it difficult for someone who...
  • Anonymous
    In my opinion this course is interesting and an opportunity to have a different look at the tourism industry in a broader spectrum. The interaction is good and through peer reviews you can build your own case and assignment. One pitfal is, if not everybody participates in the peer reviews on time, it can take a while until you receive your feedback which can hold up your work. I havent received feedback on all of my written parts while I submitted all my feedback on time. This can be improved by putting a time limit on the feedback to make sure everybody participates.
  • Anonymous
    It is a nice course, and good to follow for students with completely different studies. I'm myself an animal scientist and I've never studied something in the tourism sector. I like the way the course is structured and that you can do everything in your own pace. I also am surprised by the way the report writing is structured. I've never used such an approach of making a table in which all my supporting and contradicting arguments are structured, which really helped me in writing. Overall, great course and I would surely recommend it to other students!
  • Anonymous
    Exactly right! Keep it up. Excellent Keep up the good work. Exceptional Magnificent Exciting Majestic thoughts Exemplary Marvelous Exhilarating Meritorious Extraordinary Much better Fabulous My goodness, how impressive!

    How do you say good feedback?
    Positive feedback you can give: "I'm really happy with your determination to finish this project. I know it wasn't easy, but I knew you could do it. Your helpful attitude makes it clear that you can continue to take on new challenges and grow with the company. Thank you for your extra effort
  • Anonymous
    I really like the concept of tourism explained by the teacher. They explain it clearly and easily to understand. The students are encouraged to explain their ideas regarding the issue in the discussion section, which is very interesting and essential to improving their critical thinking about tourism matters. In addition, students can distinguish the differences in every concept and what factors affect some issues related to tourism.
  • Anonymous
    This is an excellent compilation of knowledge, views, approaches and more than that, scientific literature.

    Its a good opportunity as MOOC to join and complete it.

    Thank you
  • Anonymous
    Very enlightening for me. When I'm on a vacation I tend to not think or respect the struggles of the local people in the area I am visiting - this is evident in my excessive food, water, and energy consumption. This course wasn't all negative though, it taught me about the issues that are prevalent in the tourism industry, and how those issues may be fixed moving forward.

    Would highly recommend!
  • Anonymous
    I really liked the course and think that the lectures are interesting and contains the right amount of information in each video. The only thing I do think is a bit unececcary is the peer reviews, as I don't think it help me that much with giving information, and it is merely something that I do just to get it over with. Other than that very engaging and good lecturers and interesting subject.
  • Anonymous
    I have thoroughly enjoyed the course. I would recommend it to anyone thinking of entering a career in Tourism or has a profound interest in Sustainable Tourism or just curious. I have learnt things I didn't know before. How are actions are contributing...
  • Anonymous
    This course is easy to follow and can be done in your own time whenever you want to. The course gives many insights from diverse perspectives, which makes it interesting to engage with the course. The module exams are not too hard, but keep you on your toes and encourage you to pay attention while watching the short knowledge clips. I learned a lot!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I am really happy to share my own learning experience with the Sustainable Tourism course via edX. This is my first experience in doing an online course. This course had been started on march 2020 but I took this cause on June 10 : nearly a month ago....
  • Anonymous
    As a practitioner but a beginner in tourism research, I'd like to say the course is beyond my expectation. It provided me a comprehensive foundation of not only sustainable tourism but also tourism as a whole. Alongside the lectures, the instructors pushed me to think more deeply and generally by raising open questions.
  • Anonymous
    The course is very well structured. Every module is divided into steps with clear lectures and small exercises. This helps you to structure your thoughts and built up an essay. Although I am new to the study of tourism, the course was easy to follow and I gained some interesting insights.
  • Anonymous

    Very well structured including fun elements, brief and to the point presentations as well as sincerity.

    Thank you very much indeed.

    Hope to keep in touch via Linkedin for future possible collaborations.

    Adam Kahraman
  • Anonymous
    In the lecture, tourism was not viewed as an activity to satisfy tourists' interest, but as a positive and negative impact in various aspects. In addition, I was able to select and study cases on my own and modify them through peer feedback.
  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed this course! The videos were really interesting, clear and funny, so I wanted to watch & learn more and more. It was also interesting to work on my individual study case, which topic I could choose.
  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed this course! The videos were really interesting, clear and funny, so I wanted to watch & learn more and more. It was also interesting to work on my individual study case, which topic I could choose.
  • Anonymous
    Very good course if you want to learn about tourism and sustainability. Recommend to get the verified access and complete the full course.

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