This thesis explores systems thinking in fifty tourism higher education programs across the world by establishing several indicators: critical thinking, networks, interdisciplinarity, wicked problems and feedback loops. Critical thinking is seen as one of the fundaments of systems thinking. Networks and interdisciplinarity are characteristics of any system. Lastly, wicked problems and feedback loops relate to the complexity of systems. In addition, barriers and facilitators of incorporating systems-thinking in tourism education are explored through sending out a survey in a mailing list of scholars and by sending emails directly to the schools of the sample. A content analysis of program descriptions on two study portal websites and university websites provides an in-depth evaluation of the abovementioned indicators. A matrix that has been established, plotting systems thinking against critical thinking, shows that these two concepts are usually either both implemented or both kept out of a program. This confirms the interrelationship between the two concepts. Finally, it can be said that most of the indicators are found in tourism programs to some extent. Master programs generally contain more systems-thinking indicators than Bachelor level education. In general, however, there are great differences between programs and what they aim to teach.
Author: V. Oudhof (2018)