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Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management


Cutting-edge foundational and applied research.

Our research interests are as broad as our program offerings, are led by internationally-recognized scholars, and are supported by our undergraduate and graduate students, who have the opportunity to participate in our research teams.  

PRTM's research mission is to generate high quality scholarship, research and other creative activities to serve the citizens of South Carolina and our national and global constituents, and to create innovative solutions in a rapidly changing environment.


  • Sport and Recreation Management Research

    Sport and Recreation Management (SRM) faculty believe that recreation is an important and fundamental element in the human condition. Our belief that recreation is invaluable to quality of life is not only a topic in itself, but is also foundational to the rationale and implications of our research.

    General research interests among the CRSM faculty include:

    • Recreation for health and wellbeing: Exploring the value of recreation and leisure in contributing to the overall health, wellbeing, and quality of life for individuals, families, communities, and the environment.
    • Recreation outcomes for youth development: Developing a better understanding of the influences on youth development, and identifying ways to use recreation as an avenue for positive development.
    • Social justice in recreation: Examining issues of prejudice and privilege in recreation and leisure services, provisions, availability, and participation in order to better serve all populations regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, weight, ability, etc.
    • Recreation management and administration: Identifying effective management approaches and frameworks to better serve constituents and capitalize on the value of recreation in contributing to human health and well-being.


  • Parks, Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Research

    Faculty in Parks, Conservation and Outdoor Recreation are committed to the advancement and application of new knowledge to inform and improve parks and protected areas worldwide. The six research priorities below contribute to this mission:

    • Visitor monitoring and management: Provide tools and frameworks to help manage parks and protected areas to maximize the visitor experience while minimizing environmental impacts
    • Human dimensions of natural resource management: Investigate the social aspects of resource management issues (public opinions, attitudes, demographics, etc) to support effective planning and inform decision-making processes.
    • Parks, recreation, and public health: Explore the human-nature connection and the multifaceted benefits associated with parks and outdoor recreation across diverse contexts, with a particular emphasis on public health and well-being.
    • Environmental education and interpretation: Evaluate existing programs and identify strategies and approaches for reaching desired outcomes such as building environmental awareness and helping learners in informal settings develop the knowledge and skills necessary to engage in steward behaviors and promote environmental sustainability
    • Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas: Research to support tourism management in parks and protected areas that maximizes the benefits to local residents in and around parks, minimizes impacts on the resources of the area, and enhances the visitor experience.
    • Outdoor/Wildland Recreation: Investigating and evaluating outdoor and wildland recreation benefits, impacts, and management.


  • Recreational Therapy Research

    Faculty in Recreational Therapy focus their research on:

    • Complementary and alternative medicine as means to improve function and well-being for individuals with acute and chronic disease
    • Community reintegration for veterans and their families
    • Adapted sports as a means to improve well-being for individuals with physical disabilities
    • Reducing stigma for marginalized populations through recreation and leisure
  • Tourism and Event Management Research

    Tourism and Event Management faculty focus their research on a number of different areas: 

    Consumer Behavior and Tourism Marketing

    Travel can change a person’s life. As a result, understanding the decisions, activities and evaluations of visitors and how to effectively market high quality and sustainable travel and event experiences is one of the richest areas of tourism research. However, the combination of more specialized travel niches and the increasing role of technology in visitor decision making has changed the consumer behavior and tourism marketing research landscape. At Clemson University, the Travel and Tourism faculty work closely with domestic and international undergraduate and graduate students on theoretically-based and applied travel and tourism research addressing local and global problems faced by tourism and event entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations and destination managers from around world. Through the use of traditional and contemporary social science theories, travel behavior models, research methods and cutting-edge analytical tools, students explore, develop and implement tourism marketing and communication plans and strategies that meet the needs of both tourism and event guests and hosts.

    Sustainable Community Tourism Planning and Development

    Sustainable tourism, developed and managed correctly, can create opportunities and lasting benefits to the local communities and environments where it exists. Central to sustainable tourism development are the ideas of minimizing negative impacts - environmental, socio-cultural, and economic - while maximizing the positive effects of tourism. Successful sustainable tourism development requires the involvement of local community stakeholders in the planning and decision-making process and a system for monitoring impacts. In doing so sustainable tourism can be a vehicle for economic development and poverty alleviation, foster community development and cultural authenticity, and promote environmental and wildlife conservation. Our teaching and research has focused on tourism planning here in South Carolina and the Southeast U.S., but has also transcended international borders with teaching and research related to community tourism planning and development conducted in East Africa, Central and South America, Europe, and the Caribbean.

    Socio-Cultural Impacts of Tourism

    Tourism directly impacts and influences cultures and societies. Every year, over one billion travellers cross international borders for a variety of reasons: for business, to visit friends and family, and to experience the traditions and heritages of other people, while many other domestic tourists visit regions of their home country that are culturally different than their own. These cultural interactions can have lasting impacts – both positive and negative - on destinations and tourists alike. Our teaching and research in topical areas such as heritage tourism, tourism management, and sport tourism, and in regions such as East Africa, Western Europe, and North America, focuses on the many ways tourism impacts cultural values, traditions, and identity.

    Tourism and the Environment

    Tourism is inextricably linked to the natural environment and impacts it both positively and negatively. Many destinations rely on the surrounding natural beauty or specific landscapes as the primary attraction, and the tourism industry is often walking a tightrope between conservation and development. While visitors and developers want accommodations and amenities close to attractions such as beaches and mountains, overdevelopment and inappropriate development cause a great amount of stress on the local ecosystems and can endanger the attractions themselves. While the negative environmental impacts of tourism receive more attention and are widespread, there are also examples of tourism being the catalyst for environmental conservation, for example tourism has played a major role in the development of state and national parks both domestically and internationally. Our teaching and research on the connection between tourism and the environment includes regional, domestic, and international examples and opportunities.

  • Youth Development Leadership Research

    Faculty in Youth Development Leadership are committed to the advancement of knowledge and application of the discipline of Youth Development that will foster youth well-being and preparation for a successful adulthood. The four research priorities below contribute to this mission:

    Youth Program Evaluation

    YDL faculty engage in several program evaluation projects with a variety of partners to provide an understanding of the effectiveness of youth programs to meet program goals and increase efficiency in program implementation. Current partnerships include school-based projects, youth well-being and advocacy in communities, outcome evaluations with camps and other out-of-school time providers, and parent perceptions of youth program outcomes.

    Promotion of Positive and Healthy Development

    Faculty study positive and healthy development of young people to inform youth-serving professionals, policy-makers, educators, and parents in enacting strategies to serve and empower youth to reach their potential.

    Parent and Mentor Influences on Positive Youth Development

    Faculty projects focus on specific adult roles such as parents, mentors, coaches, and program staff which influence positive youth development. This research examines the nature of adult-youth interaction and how certain interactional patterns may promote the growth and success of youth in community settings. Faculty are also examining how parent involvement, including over-parenting, influences youth development outcomes.

    Coping, Resilience, and Success for Military Youth

    Faculty serve as collaborators with youth-serving organizations, corporations, and private foundations to evaluate and implement support mechanisms and initiatives that build coping and resiliency skills for youth in military families.

Edge Presentation 

Explore our research labs

Adaptive Sport & Recreation Lab

Bicycle Research Team

Clemson University Institute for Parks

REYSE Collaboratory

Virtual Reality and Nature Lab

Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management | 170 Sirrine Hall