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Faculty and Staff Profile

Aby Sene-Harper, Ph. D.

Pathway Postdoctoral Fellow

Office: Lehotsky 276B
Phone: 864-656-4849

 Educational Background

Ph.D. Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences
Texas A&M University 2016

M.S. International Tourism Management
University of South Carolina 2008

B.A. Sustainable Development
Warren-Wilson College 2005

 Courses Taught

Methods of Environmental Interpretation (Clemson University)
Park Planning & Design (Texas A&M University)
Community Development & Supporting Institutions (Texas A&M University)
Conservation of Renewable Resources (Texas A&M University)


Dr. Aby Sene-Harper is a conservation social scientist whose research provides empirical data for strategy and policy development to (re)connect historically marginalized communities with parks and protected areas in the US and Sub-Saharan Africa. The National Park Service provided funding for her most recent research project to assist the agency in partnership and stewardship development with African American communities. The project included a two-fold study of (1) the historical and cultural factors shaping African Americans’ park visitation patterns, and (2) the meanings and values African Americans ascribe to national parks. In Sub-Saharan Africa, her work centers on the potential of integrated conservation and development approaches (e.g.livelihood projects, ecotourism) to yield positive and sustainable results for community development and protecting resources within protected areas. Dr. Sene-Harper believes that research methods should be informed by the social contexts and questions at hand. She uses both qualitative (e.g. interviews, focus groups, discourse analysis) and quantitative (e.g. survey questionnaires) methods. She is particularly proficient in qualitative methodology as a means to gain a deeper understanding of marginalized communities and their relationships with nature and protected areas in particular. She was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation-Interdisciplinary Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (NSF-IGERT) fellowship.

 Research Interests

Parks and conservation area management, Sustainable tourism, race and nature, community development, rural livelihoods, qualitative inquiry, community-based natural resource management.

 Research Publications

Selected refereed articles

Sene-Harper, A. & Sèye, M. (2019) Community-based Tourism around National Parks in Senegal: Implications of Colonial Legacies in Current Management Policies. Tourism Planning and Development, 1-18.

Sene-Harper, A., Matarrita-Cascante D., LR Larson (2018). Leveraging Local Livelihood Strategies to Support Conservation and Development in West Africa. Environmental Development.

Petriello, M., Redmore, L., Sene-Harper, A. & Katju, D. (Accepted). The Terms of Empowerment: Empowering Conservation or Communities? Oryx.

Olagunju, A., Thondhlana, G., Chilima, J.S., Sene-Harper, A., Compaoré, W.R.N. & Ohiozebau, E. (Accepted). Water governance research in Africa: Progress, challenges and agenda for policy complementary research. Water International.

Matarrita-Cascante, D., Sene-Harper, A. & Stocks, G. (2015). International Amenity Migration: Examining Environmental Behaviors and Influences of Amenity Migrants and Local Residents in a Rural Community. Journal of Rural Studies, 38: 1-11.

Invited book chapter

Sene-Harper, A. (In press). Tourism Development in Senegal: Historical Overview and Future Directions for Community-based Tourism. In Adu-Ampong, E., Novelli, M. & Ribeiro, M. (eds). Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Africa. Routledge

Project reports

Sene-Harper, A, Floyd, M., Fearn, M. (2018) Diversity in partnerships research and development: Technical report. Washington, D.C: National Park Service.

Sene-Harper, A., Floyd, M., Fearn, M. & Lester, D. (2017) Black Philanthropy: A Review and Synthesis of the Literature. Washington D.C: National Park Service.

Sèye, D. & Sene-Harper, A. (2014). Vingt ans de gestion intégrée du Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj : Les perceptions et attentes des populations de la périphérie. Dakar, Sénégal : Département des Parc Nationaux, Ministère de L’Environnement et du Développement Durable.

Manuscripts in progress

Sene-Harper, A., Floyd, M.& Fearn, M. “We have our own cultural ways of being in nature”: Black Americans and the National Parks. Target Journal: Journal of Leisure Sciences

Sene-Harper, A, Floyd, M., Fearn, M. & Lester, D. Black philanthropy and the National Park Service. Target Journal: Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.

 Honors and Awards

Funding awards

Jake Hershey Scholarship for Natural Resource Conservation. Dept. of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University, Fall 2015 - Spring 2016. Total amount awarded: $3000.

Jake Hershey Scholarship for Natural Resource Conservation. Dept. of Recreation, Park &Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University, Fall 2013 - Spring 2014. Total amount awarded: $3000.

Joseph R. Stone Scholarship. American Association of Travel Agents through Tourism Cares. Fall 2013 – Spring 2014. Total amount awarded: $2500.

Applied Biodiversity Science NSF-IGERT Fellowship. National Science Foundation –
Interdisciplinary Graduate Education and Research Traineeship. September 2012 – August 2014. Total amount awarded: $80,000

Recognition award

Building Future Faculty Participant. Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, North Carolina State University, Spring 2018

Graduate Student of the Year. Dept. of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management,
University of South Carolina, Fall 2007- Spring 2008.