Dwelling with sustainable pedagogy aboard Amtrak: pathways for transdisciplinary and affective general education

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Department of Social Sciences


Intersecting pressures within higher education ask geographers to be ever-more applied, global, community-engaged, field-based, and sustainable. Particularly within the liberal arts education systems, we navigate these pressures for both students seeking geography degrees and those completing their general education. While aspirational if often economically driven, these goals are in some ways contradictory. How can a course be both field and community based? How can a program deliver global and sustainable experiences? Where is the balance between applied practice and critical theory? Focusing beyond these high-level questions, while nevertheless engaging with them, we question the very possibility of drawing upon the legacy of community-based field research to offer a study away experience to students that not only teaches sustainable tourism, but practices it. Using autoethnographic fieldnotes and student surveys, we ask how field-based programs may show significant curricular application both within and beyond geography. We do so via a case study of our Amtrak Tourism: Trains, Cities, and Sustainability domestic faculty-led study away program which seeks to simultaneously practice and teach multiple forms of place-based sustainable-tourism. Our findings point towards the significance of slow tourism and dwelling as key components necessary in navigating both the pedagogical and touristic paradoxes programs such as our face.

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Journal of Geography in Higher Education