Karla Boluk

Associate Professor
 Karla Boluk

Contact information

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

Phone: 519-888-4567, ext. 43045

Email: kboluk@uwaterloo.ca

Remote video URL

Research interests

Guided by a social justice paradigm and critical lens the broad goals of my research program are to examine ways tourism enhances the well-being and quality of life of those involved in or affected by tourism. My critical sustainable tourism scholarship pursues interconnecting approaches. Specifically, my work positions tourism as a mechanism for the creation of positive change. Additionally, my work investigates ways to activate critical thinking among students to support responses to contemporary challenges and inequalities equipping graduates as critical tourism change agents. I am currently leading a SSHRC Grant exploring the role tourism social entrepreneurs play in progressing sustainability. My work has mutually challenged and critiqued the UNs Sustainable Development Goals, as well as considered the global framework to better understand how tourism may progress sustainability efforts.

Graduate supervision and student opportunities

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

  • Critical explorations of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Examining the role of Tourism Social entrepreneurs/entrepreneurship/enterprise in progressing sustainability
  • Tourism as a poverty alleviation tool
  • Tourists as critical tourism citizens
  • Tourism and an ethics of care 
  • Tourism degrowth and the circular economy
  • Creative and critical thinking to advance sustainability in tourism systems

Graduate studies application details

Remote video URL

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 Health 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

  • Social Justice
  • Sustainable tourism
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Critical consciousness and problem-posing pedagogy
  • Citizen engagement and activism
  • Community development and engagement

Karla received two teaching awards in 2014 at the Ulster Student Union Awards Ceremony including The Most Inspirational Lecturer award in the Ulster Business School, and the Overall Most Inspirational Lecturer University wide based on student nominations.

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 218: Social Entrepreneurship for Change
  • REC 356: Recreation and Community Development
  • REC 480: Advanced Seminar in Tourism Development
  • REC 621: Issues in Leisure and Social Justice


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.