By Wes White
In 1916 Robert Frost wrote the collection Mountain Interval, of which the famous The Road Not Taken is contained. His works in this volume, speak of topics of regret, relationships, and the human condition all cloaked in the language of land, nature, and exploration. Frost knew then, as we know even better now, that people are drawn to the wild, open, and free spaces in our world – the roads less traveled. It is something that inhabits all persons, at varying levels.
We pause to observe the changing leaves dance in the wind, we recognize our smallness in the vistas of Rocky Mountain National Park, and we hold our breath at the sight of unbroken snow fields glistening in the colors of the setting sun.
This connection to the transformational power of exploring and preserving nature is what led CSU Associate Professor Mark Gasta to pursue the creation of the Online Graduate Certificate in Adventure Tourism. Gasta states that he has had many careers, but this is perhaps the most meaningful, because it is about aligning who you are with what you do. For Gasta that means guiding students in aligning their passions with their vocation through empowering tourism clients in connectional and transformational experiences that are life changing and seek to preserve the cultural and natural resources upon which they depend.
Research by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has revealed that the primary motivation of adventure travelers is seeking transformative experiences. Forbes recently published that people aren’t buying things as much, but are seeking meaningful experiences via travel and adventure. REI has also released a series of videos about exploration and adventure in nature having profound effect upon a person’s mental health and wellness. With so much attention focused on adventure, experience, and the value of time spent outdoors it is no surprise that the outdoor recreation industry has revenues that double the pharmaceutical and automotive industries.
Adventure tourism is not just simply another type of tourism, but a superior economic development tool and avenue to alleviate poverty and protect and preserve wild places and threatened cultures, says Shannon Stowell, President of ATTA.
It was this deep sense of social and ecological altruism and the power of personal transformative experiences that led Gasta from high-level corporate positions to the pursuit of seeing students connect their vocation and avocation through adventure tourism. For Gasta, it has made all the difference.
Delivered through CSU Online, this certificate launches spring 2018 and its flexible online format allows students to complete coursework at their own pace. CSU students are also able to take courses as electives. Each course includes narrated presentations, discussion groups, and a range of multi-media content, including video interviews and discussions with industry experts. This connection to industry and being grounded in The Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, with 90+ years of expertise in conservation of parks and protected areas, positions AT to equip professionals in adventure tourism to not only do well, but to do good.
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