Edited by Pierre Benckendorff and Anita Zehrer
Chapter 28: Ecotourism and interdisciplinary skills
This chapter provides an insight into the history of an ecotourism degree in Portugal, the way its objectives were aligned with the pedagogical purposes of the institution that harbors it, as well as the adaptations it went through as the requirements of educational policies and the work market changed since the degree’s inception. The syllabus of this course encompasses a broad range of scientific areas, as it takes advantage of the fact that the Higher School of Agriculture where it is taught is a centre for agro-sciences, forestry and environmental studies. This variety of academic areas fosters synergies with other courses offered on the same premises, and as a consequence ecotourism students may acquire know-how and participate in activities in areas as diverse as the natural resource management (including woodlands and wild game), the processing of agro-food products in rural contexts, the design of tourist routes, food and wine tourism, equine sports and management, organic agriculture, bird watching, nature conservation and entrepreneurship, among others. The syllabus was twice revised to reflect both the feedback of the labor market and the criteria set by the Bologna Convention. After a brief presentation of the course, its objectives and rationale for its launching, an analysis of its evolution is conducted pinpointing the main changes introduced and the reasons that motivated them. The appropriateness of the syllabus to the prospective graduates was evaluated ex-post, by means of inquiries made to former students that provided a vista into their careers in ecotourism after obtaining their diploma.
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