Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership

Bachelor of Health and Physical Education – Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership

Become a champion of outdoor adventure. Kayaking, mountain climbing, backcountry skiing, biking and backpacking — it may sound like your favorite ways to spend a weekend, but it is all part of the Bachelor of Health and Physical Education — Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership (EL) program.

Pushing your limits, both physically and academically, is definitely part of this rigorous four-year program, but it also emphasizes the importance of safety while helping to prepare you for a leadership role in the fast-growing fields of ecotourism, adventure tourism and outdoor pursuits.

You will be prepared to become a champion of outdoor adventure, equipped with entrepreneurial savvy and a comprehensive understanding of the links between health, physical activity and wellness. The skills and knowledge you will acquire in this program provide you with a well-rounded education that will expand your career and/or education options at a graduate level.

Practical experience

Part of the popularity of this major — which is unique in Western Canada — is the experiential learning requirements. As a BHPE — Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership student you will complete experiential learning components in each year of the program, including a fourth-year capstone course giving you the opportunity to get some real-world experience and put your classroom theory into practice.

The BHPE — Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership program also includes two expedition requirements, the first one is a course, which is completed in the Spring (early May) or Summer (late August) of year two. In past semesters some students went to Moab, Utah on a mountain biking, hiking and canoeing expedition. Others went to Northern BC's Atlin Lake where they were hiking and canoeing or to Vancouver Island's Clayoquot Sound for a sea kayaking experience. Both practicum and expedition experiences allow students to put what they have learned into practice as they gain new experiences in the field.

This program gives you a combination of hard (technical) and soft (interpersonal) skills; you’ll have a solid base in:

  • tourism and business
  • sociocultural heritage
  • outdoor pursuits
  • environmental science and leadership
  • communication

The BHPE — EL builds upon the curriculum/courses previously offered in the highly-regarded Bachelor of Applied Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership to offer a four-year program that is supported by a balance of General Education courses and work experience components, which gives students the option to add a minor to complement their major.

Career choices

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Graduates of the BHPE — Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership generally find work at resorts, outdoor adventure outfitters, parks, universities and colleges, with community organizations or in the tourism and outdoor adventure industry.

Your job title could be:

  • Outdoor guide — lead groups of hikers, bikers, fishers, kayakers, skiers or climbers through the great outdoors.
  • Park warden — you can care for Canada’s parks, assisting visitors, and enforcing rules.
  • Ecotourism program planner — work internationally or locally on sustainable tourism initiatives. Plan programs, develop marketing plans or consult on sustainable operations for tourism agencies.

Research opportunities

Students have the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research in Alberta or abroad. Students commonly participate in an international field school (to countries such as Peru or Norway), where a student-led research project is undertaken.

There are also opportunities to conduct research in Alberta’s rich tourism and outdoor adventure environments.

Field Schools
Launching Canoes For Peru
Canoes For Peru Documentary Trailer