Maine and Iceland share many similarities: a rural landscape; tourism as a leading economic sector; and workforce shortages. Both regions also suffer from lack of planning in the tourism sector, putting this economic driver at risk. There is much the two regions can learn from one another. Developing collaborative educational programs and research projects is a way to build the future workforce, sustain the tourism landscape, and improve the tourism industry in Maine. The investment of Maine Economic Improvement (MEIF) funds has supported specific projects aimed at accomplishing these goals: an undergraduate travel class of USM TAH students to Iceland bi-annually; joint research projects on sustainable tourism issues with the University of Iceland; a speaker series and presentations of faculty from Maine in Iceland and faculty from Iceland in Maine; and the creation of a Tourism Concentration in Reykjavik University’s Masters of Business taught by USM TAH faculty. The benefit to our students are many: connecting USM TAH students to global issues in the tourism industry; developing students’ skills as they learn in Maine and Iceland through faculty research and the speaker series; affording the opportunity for international travel where students can apply classroom learning in a global context through the travel class; and offering the option to pursue a business graduate school with a tourism concentration (something not available to them in New England) in the new Reykjavik University Master’s program collaboration.
We envision these collaborative ventures to grow to the point where there is consistent USM-Iceland University research projects and travel classes that can involve USM TAH undergraduate students and tourism industry members each year, and to where the master’s degree program at RU has USM TAH students accepted into it each year. This will help build more globally-minded leaders and managers, as well as a sustainability-oriented tourism workforce in Maine.
Tourism & Hospitality Program Advisory Board
University of Iceland Tourism Faculty
Reykjavik University Faculty
Reykjavik University Industry Advisory Board
Tourism & Hospitality
Tracy S. Michaud, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor and Chair of the Tourism & Hospitality Program. She focuses her teaching and research on sustainable rural tourism development, cultural and culinary tourism, and tourism entrepreneurship in Maine and Iceland. She has co-taught a travel class in Iceland and led the effort to create a Masters of Business-Tourism Concentration at Reykjavik University where she will teach classes. She recently received the ICHRIE NENA Best Research Poster Award on Engaged Learning in Tourism Education and Outstanding Faculty Involvement Award at USM. The Tourism & Hospitality Program recently received the Visit Portland’s Leadership in Education Award.