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Towards a spirituality based platform in tourism higher education

Abu Bakar, Barkathunnisha (2020) Towards a spirituality based platform in tourism higher education. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Academic discourse supporting the inclusion of spirituality in higher education has grown across many disciplines and permeated research agendas, publications, and conferences. However, most of the scholarly work on the integration of spirituality focuses primarily on students and, with a few exceptions, ignores the spiritual lived experiences of educators. Specifically, in the context of tourism higher education, there has been little dialogue on integrating spirituality in the educational process and on how it informs the teaching practices of educators.

This thesis is presented as a compilation of four publications. The research began with two conceptual papers that provided an original contribution to tourism knowledge by identifying the opportunity for a spirituality-based platform to situate tourism education. For the purpose of the study, spirituality is defined as the human search for meaning and purpose in one’s life and a sense of interconnectedness with other beings. Historical research was undertaken to examine the advancement of tourism education in the last 5 decades and philosophical research investigated the metaphysical dimensions that have influenced tourism education. A spirituality-based platform with four pillars of spiritual development was proposed as an educational vision for the transformation of tourism higher education.

Empirical research, located within the interpretive paradigm, was undertaken to provide an informed understanding of the lived experiences of 22 tourism educators drawn globally from higher education institutions. The thesis explored these educators’ perspectives about the role and importance of spirituality in tourism higher education, the perceived challenges relating to it, and how their spiritual worldviews informed their teaching and pedagogical practices. Findings from the in-depth interviews indicated that the educators supported the integration of spirituality in tourism higher education but perceived various challenges. The respondents acknowledged that their spiritual worldviews influenced their roles as tourism educators and the adoption of spiritually grounded pedagogical practices. Scholarly implications, recommendations, and strategies are proposed for the integration of spirituality in the tourism academy.

Key Words: Tourism education, spirituality, spirituality in education, tourism studies, tourism pedagogy, tourism educators

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Sciences
Supervisor(s): Lee, Diane, Price, Anne and Wilson, E.
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