Journal of Sustainable Tourism Now Welcoming Submissions for a Special Issue

Critical Thinking to Realise Sustainability in Tourism Systems: Reflecting on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

Journal of Sustainable Tourism

“On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years” (UN, 2017).

The Journal of Sustainable Tourism (JOST) is planning to publish a Special Issue (SI) titled Critical Thinking to Realise Sustainability in Tourism Systems, which will be guest edited by Karla Boluk (University of Waterloo, Canada), Christina Cavaliere (Stockton University, United States), and Freya Higgins-Desbiolles (University of South Australia, Australia). The SI will focus on the role of critical thinking and inquiry in the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in tourism systems. 

Critical Thinking (CT) requires a process of discovering, acknowledging, and checking implicit assumptions to ensure accuracy, and informed decision-making (Brookfield, 1987). Specifically, CT allows for deeper explorations of the dynamics of power, privilege, hegemony, and hierarchical structures. It can therefore allow us to further understand various aspects of sustainable development approaches within tourism systems. The primary aim of this SI is to examine the role of CT to achieve advancements towards sustainable tourism systems.

The impetus for the development of this SI emerged from the declaration by the United Nations General Assembly of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. This declaration purposely positions tourism as a tool to advance the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs. Thus, mutually serving as an opportunity and responsibility to appraise from a critical lens what the SDGs connote and how they can be understood from multiple perspectives. Simultaneously, this SI will encourage various worldviews that both challenge, shape, and more critically reflect realities of global communities as related to, and impacted by, sustainable tourism development.

Accordingly, we call on the academy to reflect upon, examine, and contribute critical analysis of the role of CT within the SDGs as situated within contemporary tourism scholarship and neoliberal multilateral organisations. Contributions should consider how we can apply CT and the SDGs to global tourism systems to achieve sustainability. There is an inherent need for positions of power to be deconstructed in order to further the prospects of sustainability. For example, multiple worldviews are needed to guide international sustainable development for tourism systems. Indigenous perspectives, ethics of care, feminist ecology and radical eco-socialism are examples of ways in which this SI seeks to engage alternate ways of knowing. This is also an attempt to further understand how the Radical serves as an important part of the Critical. Juxtapositions of power can also be approached philosophically by understanding the roles of cooperation in sustainable community development in contrast to the capitalistic ideology that celebrates competition. This interplay of differences between cooperation and competition from multiple worldviews can be positioned within various contexts such as in the academy, resource use, policy and planning, along with consumption and production systems.

Many current organizational, industry, and academic structures aimed at achieving sustainable tourism and sustainability more broadly, are not utilising critical lenses to deconstruct and reframe operational strategies. Current dominant sustainable development approaches are embedded in neoliberal practices. Considering the current socio-political and economic propensities toward neoliberalism, it is timely to further engage with CT to advance sustainability. Achieving sustainability will require radical reconfigurations of positions of power and therefore approaches to systems of consumption and production. Therefore, this SI seeks to engage critical thinking perspectives in order to interrogate positions of power and ideas that will reconfigure systems for more effective and inclusive sustainable development as expressed in the SDGs.

To this end we invite exploratory, empirical and/or theoretical/conceptual papers that engage aspects of CT as applied the SDGs in contexts that directly or indirectly relate to sustainable tourism. This is also a timely opportunity to explore how the tourism academy may challenge and collaborate with multilateral institutions and the industry to implement critical dimensions of the SDGs. In this time of rapid change, complexity and increasing conflict, there is a need for CT to more rigorously examine efforts toward achieving the SDGs. To foster this, a variety of submissions are sought that critically examine efforts to attain sustainability through diverse disciplinary perspectives and diverse methodologies. Additionally, submissions based on co-researching and co-authoring with tourism stakeholders outside of the academy are also encouraged, particularly from NGOs, communities and others less frequently heard in academic venues. We also encourage colleagues sharing interest in relevant aspects of the SDGs to consider coming together to write in collaboration, and to co-create submissions to develop new insights and analyses.

Contributions are invited that embody the application of CT within the wide ranging thematic areas of sustainable tourism. Table 1 lists the 17 SDGs and provides indicative examples of how CT may be engaged in the study of sustainable tourism for this special issue. We acknowledge that among these topics there is overlap between SDGs, and that this list is indicative only.

Submission Instructions

Expressions of interest in contributing a paper to this special issue are invited in the form of a working title and 450-500 word abstract of your proposed paper by 1 August 2017, to be submitted by e-mail to: Abstracts should include paper title, authorship, author affiliations and contact information including the email addresses of all authors and keywords (maximum six). Full papers will be invited following abstract review. The deadline for the submission of full papers is 1 February 2018. All submissions will be subject to the journal’s normal high standards of peer review. All accepted papers will be published online without delay, with print publication of the special issue to follow.

Queries should be directed to the three guest editors via email.

Karla Boluk
Christina Cavaliere
Freya Higgins Desbiolles

Editorial information

  • Guest Editor: Karla Boluk, University of Waterloo
  • Guest Editor: Christina T. Cavaliere, Stockton University
  • Guest Editor: Frey Higgins-Desbiolles, University of South Australia