Bibliometric Analysis of Academic Research in Education for Sustainable Development in the Field of Tourism

Bibliometric Analysis of Academic Research in Education for Sustainable Development in the Field of Tourism

Noelia Araújo-Vila, Almudena Otegui-Carles, Jose Antonio Fraiz-Brea
DOI: 10.4018/IJSESD.326280
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An increase is occurring year on year, especially from 2019, in publications related to education for sustainability development (ESD) in the field of tourism. The objective of this paper is to analyse how the concept of sustainability is present in education in this area. To this aim, this article carries out a bibliographic review of the existing scientific literature on the presence of sustainability in tourism training. As an empirical part of the work, a bibliometric review of the works published in the Scopus database on sustainability in tourism education is proposed. Through evaluation and relational methods, it is intended to know the reality of this trend in tourism education. The analysis carried out shows that publications related to ESD in the field of tourism started focusing on the environment to shift on economic and social issues with the passage of time, and that there is greater attention to EDS on university education.
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Growing concern about environmental issues and the spread of the concept sustainability is helping to put pressure on governments, businesses, groups and individuals to find solutions that move towards a more sustainable relationship with the planet. A key element in achieving sustainability goals is education. Thus, in response to environmental problems, the educative sector, especially at university level, has integrated in the curricula sustainability contents to support the development of knowledge. This trend is particularly necessary in tourism and hotel education because the tourism and hotel industry is responsible for a significant environmental impact (Styles et al., 2015).

Although there are multiple definitions of sustainability, as well as ways of understanding it and, despite criticism from different cultures of the Western concept of sustainability, increased awareness of sustainability can be linked to several United Nations global conferences, starting with the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which established the United Nations Environment Programme and created a set of 26 principles to address sustainability. Principle 19 described the need for environmental education both within and outside formal education to “broaden the basis of enlightened opinion and responsible behaviour on the part of individuals, businesses and communities” (UNEP, 1972).

Education in sustainability has received increased attention in higher education (Maragakis et al., 2016; Westerman et al., 2016), combining several new materials with current sustainability assessments in the classroom to inspire critical thinking among students that has not yet been fully explored (Thomas, 2009). In addition, the objectives of education include training people who can work in enterprises that offer economically profitable, socially responsible and environmentally viable services. Therefore, schools, and especially universities, should design curricula that develop students' skills in critical thinking and anticipate the implications of their actions, along with a sense of ethics and empathy.

According to Cupitt and Smith (2012, p. 5) ESD should provide students with “the ability to solve problems through the integration of knowledge, leading to a general understanding or a vision of the world with long-term visions and an integration of values”. However, the reality is somewhat removed from this intention, graduating many students without such skills. Carp (2013), Blewitt (2013) and Sterling (2013) also point out parallels between the goals for education in general and ESD and suggest that current approaches to education do not achieve these goals. A potential reason for this in the case of tourism could be that curriculum design is based on weak conceptualization of sustainability (e.g., triple result) as opposed to sound conceptualization of sustainability (Ferreira et al., 2017).

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