Emerald Eagle Scholars study sustainable tourism in Thailand
June 09, 2011

For the fifth annual trip with the Emerald Eagle Study Abroad Program, Dr. Dan Spears will be taking fifteen UNT Emerald Eagle Scholars to Thailand from June 10 to July 1. The purpose of this program is to give students from all different majors, who might not normally have the opportunity to travel, the chance to have an international educational experience during their undergraduate years.

This year the students were selected from a series of applications and interviews, and while traveling abroad, will be taking the course SMHM 2800 Foundations of International Travel and Tourism.  The main focus of the trip will be sustainability and cultural tourism. Dr. Spears stated, "The main thing students will take away from this trip will be a broader understanding of the social and cultural issues affecting tourism in Thailand. They will be focusing on the issues and relationships of three main dimensions in sustainable tourism development: economic, social/cultural, and environmental."

The students will be able to look at the issues surrounding tourism in several major tourist destinations including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. They will be working with three different universities, speaking with UNESCO and others about global tourism issues, and even participating in "voluntourism." Students will be volunteering in areas in Phuket that were affected by the 2004 tsunami. They will be helping with different projects and sharing different cultural experiences.

At the end of the course, the students will present group projects to the UNT community on July 6, 1:00-3:00 PM in the Crumley Hall Conference Room. Administrators, faculty, staff, students, and Emerald Eagle donors are all invited to watch the presentations. The presentations will focus on the economic, social/cultural, and environmental dimensions researched in Thailand. Dr. Spears commented, "Since these students are Emerald Eagle Scholars they are held to a higher level of requirements. There is a lot more pressure to attain a higher level of understanding. At the same time though, we want this to be an exciting experience for them and allow them to really dive into the local Thai culture."

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