These two films (and Joe Pavelka’s “Turismo Alternativo” article from the July/August Ecotourism issue of Alternatives) are stories that were unearthed via the bachelor of applied ecotourism and outdoor leadership (ETOL) program at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. The four-year degree program admits 30 students from across Canada each year, and has been operating since 2000. Students are introduced to a mix of outdoor adventure activities and interdisciplinary academic courses that focus on developing a strong understanding of local and global issues and practices, informed stewardship and purposeful exploration. Students are also encouraged to travel and experience the world, and the ETOL program operates field schools in Peru and Norway, as well as expeditions to the Yukon and Northwest territories, Alaska and Baja, Mexico.
Graduates of the program have found a places throughout Canada and abroad. The majority of graduates begin their careers as guides (or instructors in some similar capacity), and then move into more senior positions with parks agencies, non-profits and commercial companies throughout Canada and abroad. Others have set up their own businesses. The ETOL program operates a film festival every November, featuring trips, stories and adventures from the previous year. For more information about the program, follow the links at mtroyal.ca.
Joe Pavelka is an associate professor and coordinator of the Bachelor of Applied Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership program at Mount Royal University in Calgary.