The Leisure, Tourism and Society program offered by the Faculty of Communication and Culture has fallen victim to budget cuts. A joint decision made by faculty members dictated the LTSO program is slated to be phased out within the next three years.
There are currently 51 students enrolled in the program, one of the larger Communication and Culture major concentrations. The LTSO program is unique in that it takes a holistic approach to the study of the tourism industry from social, cultural, economic and environmental perspectives. The program is designed to provide students with a basis for more diverse career options than the strictly management-orientated Haskayne School of Business tourism program.
Funding issues are not a new problem to the LTSO program.
"The program has not been able to find stable funding, and has run on sessional lectures and courses/professors borrowed from across campus," stated Associate Dean of Communication and Culture Dr. Doug Brent. "[We're] concentrating on what we do best with current budget constraints."
He feels without even one full-time LTSO professor, it is impossible to provide the necessary level of "overall coherence" in the program.
Current students have no need to panic; the faculty guarantees all students currently enrolled will be able to finish their degrees. Dr. Brent wants to make it clear if there is even one qualified student left in the program they will get their degree.
However, the university's guarantees do little to appease students currently registered in the program.
"This program is needed," said second-year LTSO major Heath Simpson, who was not notified by the university of the change. "Places like SAIT have basic tourism but this is more integrated into society."
Simpson credits the program with providing him with opportunities to travel and work somewhere other than Canada, something he would not receive in a standard tourism program. As a second-year student, Simpson is concerned that if the university does not offer the necessary courses, he won't be able to graduate.
Students' Union Vice-President Academic Demetrios Nicolaides was surprised to hear of the program's pending closure. He is pleased all current students enrolled in the program will be able to finish their current degrees.
"Reality is a factor of supply and demand. I have to hear the justification for the program's closure," said Nicolaides of addressing student concerns.
Communication and Culture Representative Laura Schultz is taking an optimistic approach to the LTSO program's closure.
"I actually see this as beneficial to students," stated Schultz.
She expressed the need to ensure resources are pooled and used effectively, especially in this tight fiscal climate.
As of this academic year, no new applicants are being accepted into the program although Brent says some concessions may be made for senior students who have clearly been working towards the degree and have not yet applied.
Any students interested in tourism are encouraged to consider tourism programs offered by Haskayne or the geography department. Another alternative to the LTSO program is the Communication Studies program which focuses on a similar interdisciplinary process of study.
If you have any questions, visit the Undergraduate Program Office at SS 209 or phone at 220-5490.