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Past Webcast - September 18, 2007

Research Forum

Past Webcasts Home

VT Cast #6: VolunTourism Research


Discussion focuses on discovering the nature of research and its particular value in looking at VolunTourism. What type of VolunTourism research is likely to be conducted in the future? Tune in and hear what aspects of VolunTourism research are currently being addressed and those that may be addressed in the future.

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Dr. Kathy Andereck, Arizona State University [Bio]; Dr. Phaedra Pezzullo, Indiana University (Bloomington) [Bio]; and Dr. Vinod Sasidharan, San Diego State University [Bio].


[In response to the term “Petting The Critters”]

"That’s a great term that Nancy (Dr. Nancy McGehee) heard from a woman in West Virginia, where she (Nancy) was working, that was working for one of the service organizations there.

"In this particular case, the way the term came up in the conversation, Nancy was interviewing this particular individual…the woman was commenting about a particular group of people who wanted to come in. They wanted to come in, they wanted to set up a table, and hand out used clothing to the people of the community. They were told that’s really not our preferred way of doing things; we would prefer that you donate the clothing to our store – I don’t know if it was a Goodwill or a Salvation Army store - where we will sell it to people for a very low price. This way we still are able to help people, still contribute to this community, but we also preserve the dignity of the people who live in the community in that they at least have to contribute some financial resources to participate and to buy the clothing.

"And this particular group was adamant, ‘No, we want to come with our truck and we want to hand out clothing to the folks who live there.’ And the woman’s comment was: “What they really want to do is they want to come and ‘pet the critters.’” And this particular term is what the people in the community were referring to those who were coming in and just doing handouts. They wanted to come, they wanted to look at the poor folk and help them out. You know this really isn’t the best way to do voluntourism. Again, what we really want to try and do is empower people in a community to eventually be able to have a sustainable life on their own." Dr. Kathy Andereck

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[In response to what the future of VolunTourism Research may include]

"For scholars, questions of embodiment are an interesting question. Trying to get research to account for, in addition to questions of motive or what people see or don’t see, what are the other ways that our body becomes implicated – some of this research has been done in Adventure Tourism, for example. What are the experiences of proxemics, or smells, or other types of bodily experiences in these places and how do they matter, as well as the new journal, relatively new, Tourist Studies, which is trying to push forth critical theoretical questions about tourism more broadly. And how voluntourism raises important questions about ethics and really makes us reevaluate tourism as a broader field and not just any specific niche." Dr. Phaedra Pezzullo

[List To This Quote]

[In answer to what direction would you like to see VolunTourism Research take in the next 5 – 10 years]

"I think VolunTourism is no longer a new idea. I think it has reached the stage where it should be a part of the discussion when we talk about sustainability within tourism, when we talk about corporate social responsibility within tourism. So I think the next level of research is to go beyond… of course, I understand that the questions about voluntourism and the definition of voluntourism will always be there, but I think we need to take that one step forward because the discussions about what ecotourism means still exist, but definitely we understand the value of these different niche products.


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But voluntourism… needs to be integrated with government policy, should be made aware among corporate partners, and again not a lot of corporate partners are aware of voluntourism opportunities, and, also, the community groups, help them understand the significance. So the next level of research would be to have several demonstration projects… perhaps even starting off in the United States or our sister country, Mexico, or in our northern neighbor Canada - having some demonstration projects which show how partnerships with these different entities that I mentioned will be helpful for sustainability… I think no longer is voluntourism to be considered as ‘maybe good for your community’ but we understand that it IS good for the community, it is good, so now the research should be focused on how can we integrate that into tourism policy." Dr. Vinod Sasidharan

[Listen To This Quote]


Kathy Andereck, PhD., Arizona State University

Dr. Kathleen Andereck is a Professor in the Department of Recreation and Tourism Management at Arizona State University. Dr. Andereck teaches and conducts research in Recreation and Tourism Management. She has conducted recreation and tourism related research projects for the Arizona Office of Tourism, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Department of Commerce, Arizona State Parks, Arizona Tourism Alliance, and several Arizona Communities.

Phaedra Pezzullo, PhD., Indiana University (Bloomington)

Professor Pezzullo received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2002. Her research and teaching explore the discourses that constrain and are constructed by social movements by drawing upon contemporary critical theories of rhetoric, performance, and cultural studies. In particular, most of Professor Pezzullo's work relies upon ethnographic research of environmental advocacy in the United States, especially when performances of environmental rhetoric intersect with social justice. Her current project engages environmental communication in the nexus of place, identity, and social change through the environmental justice movement's practice of and material aspects of environments; but also examines how perceptions of race, class and gender are shaped by and shape environmental conditions and attitudes. She teaches courses in several areas, including: Environmental Communication, Gender Studies, Rhetoric of Social Movements and Social Theory/Cultural Diversity.

Vinod Sasidharan, PhD., San Diego State University

Dr. Sasidharan possesses over 8 years of academic and research experience in the field of hospitality and tourism. He currently teaches courses in tourism, outdoor recreation, and hospitality management; planning concepts, principles, practices. Project Director (The Relation of Local Government Recreation and Park Services to the Health of Older Adults, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation); Project Director (Exploring Social-Demographic and Social Psychological Bases of Environmental Concern and Urban Wildlife Values in Ethnic Minority Populations, USDA Forest Service); Co-Investigator (Near Future Trends in the Northeastern United States: Implications For the National Park Service Northeast Region, USDI, National Park Service); Research Associate (Tourist Migration and Public Health: An Assessment of Sexual Behavior and Substance Abuse Among Spring-Break Students and The Impact on Destination Image); Research Consultant (Building a Regional Geographic Database for the Pennsylvania Legislature); Research Consultant, First Night® Wilmington, Delaware.

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