New partnership between Royal Roads University and ITESO pairs tourism students on social innovation projects

Mar 9, 2021    Source: Chelsea Dibble

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“I wanted my students to get involved in a project that is not solely in the walls of a classroom,” says Dr. Eugene Thomlinson, Associate Professor and Director of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Royal Roads University (RRU).

Over the past few months, Eugene has been leading a collaborative tourism project with colleagues at the Jesuit University of Guadalajara (ITESO) in Jalisco, Mexico.

Using COIL methodology (Collaborative Online International Learning), the first phase of the project paired third-year tourism students from both universities on an assignment to better understand how tourism companies in Mexico and Canada were navigating COVID-19. 

“It was great to have RRU and ITESO students working together on a common research goal while doing everything remotely from different countries,” says Eugene.

The second phase of the project, expected to start in 2022, will see the same students, who will now be their fourth year, collaborate in person on social innovation projects in and around Guadalajara. Funding for the project came from the Government of Canada’s Outbound Student Mobility Pilot Program.

“Prior to COVID-19, RRU and ITESO were already actively working together promoting student and faculty exchanges, developing course materials and program ideas, and exploring opportunities for joint research,” says Eugene.

“This project strengthens our connection with ITESO by creating new international experiential opportunities for RRU students to study in Mexico and give back to some of the communities there. It introduces our students to social and environmental issues and demonstrates how socially-responsible tourism can have a transformative impact across communities,” he concludes.

Eugene hopes his project model can be duplicated in other programs and institutions in the future once it has been tested and refined.