Associate Professor
Karla Boluk

Contact information

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

Phone: 519-888-4567, ext. 43045


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.

Boluk, K.A., & Miller, M. (2020). Intergenerational mentorship in pedagogical design and delivery. SCHOLE: A Journal of Leisure Studies & Recreation Education. DOI: 10.1080/1937156X.2020.1760746

Edge, S., Boluk, K., Groulx, M., & Quick, M. (2020). Exploring the diverse lived experiences in the Smart City through creative analytic practice. Cities, 96, 1-11.

Boluk, K., & Carnicelli, S. (2019). Tourism for the Emancipation of the Oppressed: Towards a Critical Tourism Education Drawing on Freirean Philosophy. Annals of Tourism Research, 76, 168-179.

Boluk, K., Cavaliere, C., & Higgins-Desbiolles, F. (2019). A critical framework for interrogating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda in Tourism. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27(7). DOI 10.1080/09669582.2019.1619748.

Boluk, K., Cavaliere, C. & Duffy, L.N. (2019). A pedagogical framework for the development of the critical tourism citizen. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27(7). DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2019.1615928.

Higgins-Desbiolles, F., Carnicelli, S., Krolikowski, C., Wijesinghe, G., & Boluk, K. (2019). Degrowing tourism: Rethinking tourism. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2019.1601732

Boluk, K., *Muldoon, M., & Johnson, C. (2019). Bringing a politics of hope to the tourism classroom: Exploring an integrated curriculum design through creative and reflexive methodology. Journal of Teaching in Travel and Tourism, 19(1), 63-78.

Groulx, M., Boluk, K., Lemieux, C.J., & Dawson, J. (2019). Place stewardship among last chance tourists. Annals of Tourism, 75, 202-212.

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. (2011d). Fair Trade Tourism South Africa: A Pragmatic Poverty Reduction Mechanism? Tourism Planning and Development, 8(3), 237-251.

University of Waterloo