Students outside library

August 23, 2016 - 2:51am

SLM Focus North


VIU’s Sustainable Leisure Management (SLM) Program involved in the design and piloting of a joint Master’s in Northern Tourism with University of the Arctic (UArctic) partners As the Arctic has increased its presence in global public attention (think geopolitical tensions, climate change, and globalization), it has also become an increasingly popular tourism destination. To address the need for tourism related education based on multidisciplinary learning, training and research, several leading tourism scholars and educators from across the Circumpolar north supported the creation of the Thematic Network on Northern Tourism as part of the University of the Arctic. Since 2008, multidisciplinary research projects on Arctic tourism have taken place among the network members, and an initial plan for a joint master’s degree on northern tourism was formed as part of an on-going discussion.

Vancouver Island University is a UArctic member and, through the work of faculty member Dr. Suzanne de la Barre, jointly submitted a funding application to develop and pilot a Master’s in Northern Tourism with six other member institutions. The application to the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation for Education’s High North Programme was successful, and Suzanne will accompany three students on the first course of the pilot programme.  She is one of six instructors from four other institutions involved in the field-based course: the University of Lapland, the Arctic University of Norway, Cape Breton University, and the University of Oulu.

 Together with Suzanne, the SLM students – Sunil Kanumuri (Madhur), Olivia Wei, and Michelle Harnett will travel to the far north of Norway and take part in the one-week long field-based course. This unique learning experience aims to examine the destination development challenges and opportunities of a remote Arctic location. A case study approach will focus on developing Vardø inVaranger Peninsula as a sustainable bird watching destination.





Students will plan, conduct and report on developing this remote location into a bird watching destination. Research skills and applied knowledge are the learning objectives and will occur through seminars, fieldwork, presentations to stakeholders, and reporting in ways that may also advance students’ own thesis research.


Why stop at Norway? Suzanne and students will stopover in Iceland on the way back to Canada and participate in the International Polar Tourism Research Network (IPTRN) conference. They will present their individual research, and also collaborate on a panel presentation that will reflect on the UArctic Norway field course and its case study.

SLM Focus North: 23rd August 2016

We’ve arrived! The SLM Focus North gang has made it to Alta, Norway - the City of Northern Lights. After checking into our hotel, we met up with the other Canadian students from Cape Breton University for dinner at Du Verden restaurant for some traditional Norwegian fare, including reindeer, whale and Nordland Pils (Norwegian beer). 

Vancouver Island University (VIU) team and Cape Breton University (CBU) team leaving from Oslo, Norway to Alta, Norway for the Field School.



Reindeer Fillet at Du Verden Restaurant one of the traditional Nowegain fare.


With Field School beginning tomorrow morning (Tuesday), today was a day of leisure, rest and preparations for the busy week ahead. Some got up at the crack of dawn to hike nearby mountains, some got up early to get ahead on the week’s work, and well… others slept in until 15 minutes to breakfasts’ end, spooning delicious smoked salmon and granola sprinkled yoghurt under squinted eyes and jet-lagged bodies before heading back to bed (ahem). 

A dinner social took place this evening at the student center on the campus of UiT the Arctic University of Norway (Alta), where we got to meet the other students in the Northern Tourism program. After a round of introductions in which each student shared where they study and where they’re from, we learned that 15 nationalities are represented among the 32 students, from places as far and wide as Iran, Italy,China, France, Indonesia, Belgium, India, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Nepal and the Scandinavian countries Denmark, Finland, and of course, Norway. With so much to learn about each other, the room was quickly filled with conversations and questions: Where are you from?  Where are you studying? What makes you interested in arctic tourism? 


Tomorrow will be our first day of the field school portion of the program, beginning with a morning of classroom lecture followed by lunch at the student centre, and then onto the bus for a 7 hour journey to Vardø, the focus of our field school case study, where we’ll enjoy a barbecue and campfire in the evening.

As diverse as the program students are the program faculty, including Outi Rantala, (University of Lapland), Kari Jæger (UiT the Arctic University of Norway), Trine Kvidal-Røvik (UiT the Arctic University of Norway), Patrick Maher (Cape Breton University), Kaarina Tervo-Kankare (University of Oulu), and of course our very own Suzanne de La Barre (Vancouver Island University), each representing a member university comprising UiT the University of the Arctic.

Let the learning begin!


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