Skip to main content
Skip to main content

Ogden News

WKU student conducts research on sustainable tourism in Iceland

WKU student conducts research on sustainable tourism in Iceland

Jason Fox, a Joint Undergraduate-Master’s Program (JUMP) student in the WKU Center for Human GeoEnvironmental Studies (CHNGES) and Department of Geography and Geology, recently completed research in Iceland studying environmental sustainability within the country’s whale watching tourism industry.

Fox, a senior from Russellville, spent three weeks in August with various whale watching operations completing interviews with managers on company policies and protocols relating to environmental impact, tourist education and communication with other companies. Fox conducted interviews in Reykjavik, Akureyri and Húsavík, a small town in the north of Iceland world famous for whale watching. While in Iceland, Fox also volunteered with International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in promoting tourist education on whale watching in Reykjavik.

The aim of Fox’s research is to determine sustainable best practices in tourism management and how best to share them throughout the industry. Nature-based tourism is Iceland’s largest economic sector, and whale watching is one of the most popular activities available. Whale watching, in general, is also among the most popular ecotourism activities at destinations across the globe. In Iceland, while each whale watching company approaches sustainability differently, multiple companies operate out of the same harbor space, and often multiple boats view the same whales while on tour.

The project originated through correspondence between the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik, CHNGES, the IFAW and IceWhale. As the whale watching industry continues to grow, IFAW and IceWhale seek to make sure that operators are communicating with one another to secure the protection of whale populations, while also offering one-of-a-kind experience for Iceland residents and visitors.

Fox and his advisor, Dr. Leslie North, expanded this project to include communication between companies on environmental sustainability. As Iceland faces threats of a warming climate, the environmental footprint of tourism must be minimized in order for the industry to sustain itself. Collaboration between operators, research bodies and organizations such as IFAW and IceWhale can serve as a first step toward sustainable tourism, and WKU CHNGES is poised well to help develop the best mechanism by which to facilitate communication and environmental education among all interested parties.

To fund this research, Fox received a WKU FUSE Grant and a WKU Office of Scholar Development Lifetime Experience Grant. Fox is a student in the Mahurin Honors College at WKU.

For information, contact Dr. Leslie North at or (270) 745-5982. To follow Fox’s research, as well as other activities of WKU Center for Human GeoEnvironmental Studies (CHNGES), follow the Center at @wkuchnges on Instagram and Twitter and/or @chngeswku on Facebook.

Contact: Leslie North, (270) 745-5982

Latest Headlines
WKU Board of Regents to meet Feb. 23

The WKU Board of Regents will hold its first quarterly meeting at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 23. The meeting will be in the Martin Regents Room of Jody Richards Hall.

2 WKU students chosen for ONE Campaign summit in Washington

Nicole Camargo and Amanda Collins, two ONE Campus Leaders at WKU, were chosen to participate in an exclusive summit in Washington, D.C., focused on fighting extreme poverty and disease.

View from the Hill: International Year of Bosnia and Herzegovina

This year’s International Year of program at WKU focuses on Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country whose immigrants make up nearly 10 percent of Bowling Green’s population. Amy Bingham shows how the stories are coming to life in this View from the Hill.

Featured Articles
Black History Month Salute: Sharon Hunter

This month, we're highlighting the work of African American faculty, staff, students, and alumni who make a difference each day at WKU. Today, we focus on Sharon Hunter, Director of Strategic Enrollment Management and Retention Support at WKU.

Holocaust mural exhibit to open March 1 at National Corvette Museum

An exhibit of 20 murals depicting powerful messages about the Holocaust will open March 1-15 at the National Corvette Museum. The murals were created by students participating in The Center for Gifted Studies VAMPY program.

Black History Month Salute: Gaines Brown

This month, we're highlighting the work of African American faculty, staff, students, and alumni who make a difference each day at WKU. Today, we focus on Gaines Brown, a Distinguished Minority Fellow and MPA student from Lexington, KY.


Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
download excel.

Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
download word.

Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
download powerpoint.

Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,
download quicktime.

 Last Modified 3/6/17