From Extraction to Attraction: Coastal Communities in an Era of Leisure and Tourism

Elective Course | 4 ECTS | Course: CRD 08

Instructor: Pat Maher

Course Catalog Description

About the Course

This course is about how we engage with leisure pursuits in small coastal communities, particularly those in the Arctic.  How do these communities interact with tourism on social, economic and cultural levels?  What is the individual tourist-local interaction like? How about the larger system? This course relies on understanding tourism at a basic storytelling level; and putting that into larger contexts.

Students will analyse the impact of tourism at their doorstep and create photo essays, go on field trips and produce their own digital story or short movie.


I grew up all over the globe; from Nova Scotia to California, Indonesia to Denmark.  I completed my PhD in New Zealand, with fieldwork in Antarctica, and since then have held a number of academic positions in Canada.  My research has many strands, but in tourism it's mostly about understanding the meanings that visitors take back from their expedition experiences and how that shapes their "real life".  I'm both a researcher and an educator - valuing what my research brings to my teaching and vice versa.

For further details, go to:

Every year I come back to UW and Isafjordur to get refreshed and rejuvenated - by the beautiful landscape of the West Fjords and the inspiring students (truly global thinkers) that I get to learn with. Teaching here, in a compressed format, with students from all over the world is pure joy!


This course examines the impact of rising tourism figures and second home ownership in coastal communities.  Changes of the local economic foundation, social structure, culture and individual interactions of coastal communities will be highlighted. This course provides an overview of tourism in coastal/marine areas and includes topics such as: shared resource use and management; sovereignty tensions; adventure and expeditionary tourism; the logistical challenges of operating in remote marine environments; and the impacts tourism may have on the sustainability of the communities and environments in the region.

On completion of the course, a student:

  • can describe the logistical complexity for tourism related business in coastal communities.
  • can describe changes and conflicts in local economies that experience a shift from extraction-based economies to a service-oriented industry, such as tourism.
  • can identify factors that attract people to remote regions as tourists or second homeowners and critically examine the impact of this development on the local society.
  • can evaluate the importance of tourism on the livelihood of coastal communities.
  • can present and explain findings from the scientific literature and discuss them with peers. 
  • can develop critical thinking, written and verbal communication skills, through course assignments to distinguish between the different physical, social and political contexts present in coastal/marine tourism