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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


International Studies

First Advisor

Kent Warren

First Committee Member

Michael Osmera

Second Committee Member

Susan Snyman


This thesis looks at how ecotourists can become aware of biocultural diversity (the intersection of biological and cultural diversity) and help contribute to sustainable development, which considers the needs of both present and future generations. The thesis will address the ecotourism industry and how people who travel with companies that cater to ecotourists can contribute to biocultural diversity and sustainable development. It will utilize a sustainable development framework and a critical theory approach for considering biological and cultural perspectives including human rights and social justice, the contribution of traditional knowledge, community involvement, and the effects of human impact and globalization. The primary audience of my research is people who travel the globe in search of the earth’s natural wonders. I highlight issues related to minimizing environmental impact, respecting local cultures, building environmental awareness, and providing direct financial benefits for conservation. My central research question is: How can travelers help to preserve the environment, be sensitive to local cultures, and contribute to a sustainable future? I ask: By understanding the distinct correlation between biological and cultural diversity, how can we utilize both traditional (and local) knowledge combined with scientific knowledge to help sustain and preserve our natural ecosystems? I conclude with findings that point to the need for shared community authority, management, and decision making; mutual benefits; recognition of the rights, values, norms, power structures, and dynamics of local populations; respect for belief systems as well as traditional and local ecological knowledge; and the importance of contextual adaptation.





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