Tracy Michaud and Rob Sanford published an article in Maine Policy Review called “Injecting New Workforce Leaders in Tourism, Hospitality and Environmental Science: A Community-Engaged Learning and Immersion Class” on July 16, 2018, volume 27, issue 1. The abstract is as follows:
Tourism, especially nature-based tourism, is a major and growing industry in Maine; key policy papers name tourism as the major economic export in Maine. Therefore, it is important that leaders are graduated into the Maine workforce with specific knowledge of the tourism and hospitality industry and with a connection to the environment in which it is flourishing. To do this, retaining and graduating students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds are needed and important to the future of Maine’s economy. Community-engaged learning, including immersion classes, is a key strategy to increase student persistence in some programs at the University of Southern Maine (USM), an institution that serves a high percentages of first-generation, diverse, nontraditional students. Two academic units at USM, the Program in Tourism and Hospitality and the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, collaborate in delivering a co-located intensive immersion class for all new majors. Early in their college career this engagement with community partners and with each other fosters a sense of community among the students and with the industry in which they will work. It is argued that this community engagement is a factor contributing to student retention and success in these programs and ultimately will help create the creative, resilient, locally active leaders needed to guide sustainable tourism development in Maine’s largest economic sector.