Associate Professor
Karla Boluk

Contact information

Office: B.C. Matthews Hall (BMH) 2303

Phone: 519-888-4567, ext. 34045


Research interests

I use a critical lens in my research to examine the social impact commitments of tourism businesses. Additionally, I challenge the dominant discourse in higher education. Specifically, my research explores ways to sustainably engage and empower communities in poverty eradication, positioning tourism as a mechanism for the creation of positive change. My current research projects in these areas include exploring mechanisms Fairmont Mara Safari Club in Maasi Mara, Kenya have activated to determine desirable outcomes for their communities; an examination of the social impact of a local volunteer tourism organization called New World Community and CLOUD projects, a cross-country case study comparison of social entrepreneurs (in South Africa, U.S., Ireland), and an examination of how critical pedagogy following Freirean philosophy can be implemented into Tourism curriculum. Demonstrating the intersection between my two passions for social responsibility and critical pedagogy I have co-created two brands at the University of Waterloo including the Big Ideas Challenge and Hack4Health.

Graduate supervision and student opportunities

I am currently accepting applications from graduate students with research interests related to:

  • Tourism and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Socio-cultural and environmentally sustainable tourism
  • Tourism as a poverty alleviation tool
  • Sustainable and responsible tourism planning and development
  • Social entrepreneurship/enterprise, Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Tourists as citizens 
  • Creative and critical thinking to advance sustainability in tourism systems

Graduate studies application details

MA Recreation and Leisure Studies student Joseph Skeete is supervised by Professor Boluk. Watch what life is like as a graduate student in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences as Joseph travels from Waterloo to Alberta to conduct research in Banff. Working with the Fairmont group of hotels, Joseph investigates the impact of corporate social responsibility initiatives by the hotel chain.

Teaching interests

  • Responsible tourism
  • Critical consciousness, and problem-posing pedagogy
  • Citizen engagement and activism
  • Bridging theory with industry engagement

Karla Boluk and Corey Johnson together received the 2018 Innovation in Teaching Award from The Academy of Leisure Sciences for their work on the tourism integrated curriculum (REC 280, REC 380, REC 480).


  • REC 280: Introduction to Tourism
  • REC 380: Tourism Analysis
  • REC 480: Advanced Seminar in Tourism, Well-being and Community


BA, Brock University 

PhD, University of Otago, New Zealand

PDF, University of Dalarna, Sweden

Selected publications

See Google Scholar for full list of publications.

Mottiar, Z., Boluk, K., & Kline, C., (2018). The roles of social entrepreneurs in rural destination development. Annals of Tourism Research, 68, 77-88.

Boluk, K., Cavaliere, C., & Higgins-Desbiolles, F. (2017). Critical thinking to realize sustainability in tourism systems: reflecting on the 2030 sustainable development goals. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 25(9), 1201-1204.

Devine, A., Boluk, K., Devine, F. (2017). Managing social media during a crisis: A conundrum for event managers. Event Management, 21(4), 375-389.

Boluk, K. (2017). Bridging urban and rural tourism to build more sustainable communities. In. S. Slocum, & C. Kline. Linking Urban and Rural Tourism. London, U.K.: Routledge. (Invited)

Boluk, K., Kline, C., & *Stroobach, A. (2016). Exploring the expectations and satisfaction derived from volunteer tourism experiences. Tourism and Hospitality Research, 17(3), 272-285.

Weeden, C. & Boluk, K. (2014) (ed.). Managing Ethical Consumption in Tourism. London: Routledge.

Boluk, K. and Mottiar, Z. (2014). Motivations of social entrepreneurs: Blurring the social contribution and profits dichotomy. Social Enterprise Journal, 10(1), 53-68. 

Boluk, K. (2013). Using CSR as a Tool for Development: An Investigation of the Fair Hotels Scheme in Ireland. Journal of Quality Assurance in Hospitality and Tourism, 14, 1-16.

Boluk, K. (2011). FTTSA: Consumer Virtue or Moral Selving?Journal of Ecotourism, 10(3), 235-249.

University of Waterloo