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Flagship Program 2022 - Session Descriptions


Session 1     

Understanding Sustainability and Sustainable Travel:

Beyond the Environmental-Social-Economic Approach

Lead Instructor:

Alissa Murray

Senior Advisor, RISE Travel Institute

Director, Program Operations at The Sustainability Laboratory

Founder of In Locamotion

We’re used to hearing the term “sustainability” again and again, everywhere from business, to politics, to the travel sphere. But what exactly does sustainability mean, and by extension, what is “sustainable travel”? This introductory module will help you break down and understand the concept of sustainability, from a holistic, systems perspective. We will examine various definitions of sustainability, and hone in on a particular, actionable sustainability framework that can be implemented to create lasting change. Finally, we will look at how to realize sustainability within the travel sphere, arriving at an approach to sustainable travel that promotes wellbeing for travelers, host communities, and the ecosystems of which they are a part.

Session 2     

Travel & Me: Locating Ourselves in the Spectrum of Power

Lead Instructor:

Justine Abigail Yu

Senior Advisor, RISE Travel Institute

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Living Hyphen

Communications Director at Wanderful

Guest Instructor:

Dr. Anu Taranath

Faculty, University of Washington Seattle

Author, Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World

We cannot begin this journey without first acknowledging that travel and tourism have their roots in colonization, genocide, and slavery, creating the global inequities that we now find ourselves in. In this module, we'll uncover how these forces continue to play themselves out today and what other systems and processes have compounded to deepen the inequities of our globalized world.

How then do we fit into all of these complexities as individual travelers? This module also aims to unpack and reflect on our own identities and all the ways in which that may affect how we move throughout the world - both at home and abroad. We will then examine how we can bring more mindfulness and consciousness in our decisions around our travels to bring about a more just and equitable world.

Session 3     

Building Inclusivity: Rethinking Travel in an Unequal World

Lead Instructors:

Justine Abigail Yu

Senior Advisor, RISE Travel Institute

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Living Hyphen

Communications Director at Wanderful

Dr. Vincie Ho

Founder and Executive Director, RISE Travel Institute

Travel does not exist in a vacuum. If anything, it is directly and specifically tied to historical and current systems of oppression such as colonization, inequitable economic regulations, militarism, and cultural hegemony. This is evident in the way the travel and tourism industry is currently led and operated – predominantly white, cis, straight, and male-dominated.

In this module, we will unpack the current power structures at play in the travel and tourism industry that make it so unequal and inaccessible for large swaths of the population. We will then look at active ways we can work to make travel more inclusive and accessible for people at all intersections of identity.

Session 4     

The Power of Decolonizing Tourism Experiences and Our Impact to Indigenous Land and People

Lead Instructor:

Genevieve Huneault

Senior Advisor, RISE Travel Institute

Principal Consultant and Founder of Social Root Consulting

Guest Instructor:

Teresa Ryder

Director of Business Development at Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC)

Travel has been a way to escape, indulge, explore, and relax- which, to the Western tourist, can seem rather harmless. But consider the dichotomy between what is being escaped and what is being escaped to. The tourism industry has painted pictures of secluded and pristine destinations and landscapes that are seemingly uninhabited, however this is problematic for our industry. Since time immemorial Indigenous people have lived, cultivated, and thrived on the lands and territories tourists may see as ‘unexplored’. The tourism industry is not impermeable to the perpetualized colonial system, and as a result has an impact on people, land, and culture. 

If we recognize that place and the consciousness of landscape contain the primordial elements for the Indigenous mind, and we center place and place-ness as containing the worldview of Indigenous culture, society, and traditions -then it follows that Indigenous tourism can be an avenue to deepen tourists understanding and engagement with the landscape through indigenous led tourism experiences as an integral aspect to decolonizing the industry. 

We describe how this positions Settlers as constructive participants in decolonizing tourism experiences. By working through experiential, imaginative, and narrative moments associated with Indigenous-Settler relations in Canada, we highlight best practices for fostering Settler accountability for colonization and colonial complicity and elevate the importance of justice as healing within the tourism industry.

Session 5     

Animals in Tourism: Implications and Solutions

Lead Instructor:

Mary Pat Champeau

Board Director, RISE Travel Institute

Faculty, Antioch University New England

Director of Graduate Programs/Faculty Chair, Institute for Humane Education

Guest Instructors:

Dr. Sarah Bexell

Director of Humane Education for the Institute for Human-Animal Connection; Clinical Associate Professor, Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver

Faculty, Institute for Humane Education-Antioch University New England
Senior Advisor, Conservation Education at Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base, China

Daniel Turner

Co-Founder and Director, ANIMONDIAL

It’s not uncommon for tourists to want to swim with the dolphins on their vacation or ride an elephant at an elephant “sanctuary” or visit a zoo or aquarium. As humans, we are drawn to animals, we like to be near them, and to experience a moment of animal-human connection. Unfortunately, many activities meant to attract tourists both in the US and abroad contribute to animal suffering and exploitation. What looks on the surface like an innocent and fun activity often conceals a complex system that perpetuates not only animal cruelty but environmental degradation and human poverty as well. The good news is: When managed properly, tourism can be a force for good. Adopting the right approach it can influence long-term positive change in the world where animals are valued, protected and respected, habitats are restored and humans co-exist with animals in mutually beneficial ways. By resolving to include animal well-being in your travel goals, you can be part of this change.

Session 6     

Conserving Biodiversity through Sustainable Travel

Lead Instructor:

Shreya Sanjeev

Curriculum Development and Student Engagement Manager, RISE Travel Institute

Travel has always been under the global spotlight, even more so now due to COVID-19. There is growing evidence and awareness about the negative impacts of travel on the environment and local communities, mainly through climate change, unsustainable tourism in areas with wild flora and fauna, and local and indigenous culture and customs. 

Responsible wildlife tourism is an evolving industry that provides considerable promise to protect wildlife and spaces. Still, it also has its challenges and must be carefully managed and regulated. Currently, the global wildlife tourism industry generates billions of dollars in revenue while also providing an economic incentive for wildlife and habitat conservation. Although not completely harmless, when conducted properly, wildlife tourism can provide a relatively benign financial incentive for wildlife conservation and maybe the best we can hope for in a world increasingly dominated by humans.



Session 7     

Global and Local Impacts of Climate Change from and on Tourism

Lead Instructor:

Emmanuelle Vital

Senior Advisor, RISE Travel Institute

Principal Consultant at Vital Resources

Founder of Science and Art Initiatives at Pure Inspirations

This session focuses on the two-way interactions of climate change and tourism, in order to understand the implications of a changing climate to tourism and tourism activities on sensitive environmental and cultural systems. It provides an overview of the contributing and impacted tourism sectors in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It refers to research on forecasts for tourism activities and impacts of tourism in a future net zero economy. It also provides examples of actions tourists can take to reduce impacts of their activities on the environment and visiting communities and to contribute to climate adaptation projects.

Session 8   

 Beyond Good Intentions: Challenging the Power Dynamics in Voluntourism

Lead Instructors:

Justine Abigail Yu

Senior Advisor, RISE Travel Institute

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Living Hyphen

Communications Director at Wanderful

Eliza Raymond

Senior Advisor, RISE Travel Institute

Co-Founder and Director of Operations, GOOD Travel

Faculty, University for Peace

Voluntourism was once promoted as a more reciprocal form of travel, in which both volunteers and hosts benefit from the experience. But more recently, the voluntourism sector has increasingly become criticised both within academia and popular media. It has been argued that voluntourism programmes do not always involve a mutually beneficial experience and may even represent a form of neo-colonialism due to the unequal power dynamics between volunteers and hosts.

This session will provide you with an introduction to the voluntourism sector. We will explore the issues around voluntourism, while also providing alternative, more regenerative and equitable ways for cross-cultural exchange. Finally, we will provide practical recommendations for individuals seeking to mindfully serve the destinations they visit.

Session 9     

Photographing with Intention: A Travel Photography Primer

Lead Instructor:

Devon Barker

Art Director and Communications Ethicist, RISE Travel Institute

Co-Founder of and

We will delve into the process of seeing through the lens of equity and work towards developing a personal code of ethics to apply to our photography both at home and abroad. We will look at examples of how altered photos, photos taken out of context, and photos distributed beyond our control can be both a force for good and for harm. As travelers hungry to share the stories and places we have experienced, we will take a step back and consider how simple changes in composition and lighting can influence meaning and shift power dynamics with our subjects. This session will challenge the way we approach photography by examining our motivations and intentions behind the images we make and provide a glimpse into how a single captured moment can ripple through time, culture, and politics. 

Session 10     

Unlocking the Secret Power of Travel: How Travel Sustainably Can Make You a Happier Human Being?

Lead Instructor:

Dr. Milena Nikolova

Chief Behavior Officer, BehaviorSMART

This session leans on insights from behavioral sciences to reveal the secrets of employing travel to generate more moments of personal happiness. Science has revealed that human beings can extract more psychological and spiritual benefits from experiences rather than material purchases. It is sometimes small details in how we engage with places and people during our travels that can magnify the bliss that our world-trotting adventure can bring. This closing module will offer some practical insights about the link between sustainable travel and happiness offering recipes for how to travel in ways that makes you a truly smart traveler – a happier and mindful citizen of the world.