The Building Resilient Communities through Outdoor Recreation certificate examines how communities can build their capacity for change and take proactive steps to improve their economic prospects and quality of life through outdoor recreation.

Courses in this certificate will examine examples of the many and varied strategies and tools for outdoor recreation development, alongside the various benefits and challenges associated with its implementation. Particular focus is given to community-led and focused economic development, sustainable destination management best practices and the important role that outdoor recreation can play in addressing equity and quality of life issues within marginalized and disadvantaged communities, all of which are central to the creation of resilient and engaged communities.

This certificate can be taken as a standalone offering or as part of the Master of Science in Outdoor Recreation Economy program.

Outdoor recreation and access to the outdoors are increasingly recognized as vital components of healthy, resilient communities. Whether urban, suburban or rural, communities of all kinds are turning to the outdoor recreation economy for various reasons. In the rural context, communities undergoing a just transition from previous extractive industries are looking for opportunities to elevate their local economies and provide a future for the next generation. In suburban and urban communities, the ability for parks and open space to contribute to climate change resilience, reduce urban heat island effects and improve community health outcomes have led to significant reinvestment in our public spaces and community life. 

How can communities ensure that outdoor recreation-focused development is not something that happens to them, but rather is something that builds upon community strengths and assets and reflects the needs and wants of its members? What skills, knowledge and tools do communities need to have at their disposal in order to inspire action and take charge of their future and become more livable, resilient and sustainable?

At the end of this certificate, you should be able to:

  • recognize the importance of community and place and their role in building resilience,
  • communicate the importance of the outdoor recreation economy in the building of sustainable and resilient communities,
  • critically evaluate the various strategies through which outdoor recreation can contribute to community economic development and building resilience,
  • assist communities in identifying and implementing appropriate strategies and tools to develop the outdoor recreation economy,
  • apply community leadership and visioning skills that can assist with the implementation of sustainable and resilient outdoor recreation-based community economic development,
  • lead and engage representative, inclusive and meaningful stakeholder participation and engagement processes,
  • identify various sources of funding to assist communities with outdoor recreation development,
  • recognize and champion the role that outdoor recreation can play in addressing issues of diversity, equity inclusivity and justice in all communities,
  • critically evaluate and apply theoretical concepts to real-world examples of building resilient communities through outdoor recreation; and,
  • communicate and engage with community, industry and government leaders in a professional manner.

Course Descriptions

Asynchronous Subject Courses (2 Credits Each)

At the heart of the outdoor recreation economy exist the towns and communities that nurture and develop outdoor recreation businesses and amenities. These communities not only provide a place for people to live, but also much of the necessary infrastructure, resources and supporting facilities and services that make communities great places to live, work, visit and recreate. This course explores what it means to be a community and the significance of place, as well as the structure and organization of communities, the role of government and governance, alongside the engagement and participation of community members in decision-making through democratic processes and how these can influence the development of the outdoor recreation economy and community economic development outcomes.

At the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • describe what it means to be a community and the importance of place,
  • discuss the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the framing and understanding of community and the implications for the outdoor recreation economy,
  • define community economic development and identify the various steps involved in the process,
  • critically assess different frameworks and theories relating to community economic development and destination development,
  • examine the various ways in which communities are organized and structured, and the role that key public, private and third sector organizations play in community governance and policy-making, 
  • critically evaluate how democratic processes are carried out within communities and the role that community members play in the adoption and development of the outdoor recreation economy,
  • assess the various ways in which outdoor recreation can contribute to community economic development in different contexts; and
  • examine how communities become destinations over time and why communities turn to tourism and outdoor recreation as key economic drivers.

This course focuses on the various strategies that can be adopted to develop and grow a resilient outdoor recreation economy within a given place. Through critically examining these strategies and how they have been applied, the many and different ways in which the ORE can contribute to community economic development and building resilient communities is analyzed.

 At the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • assess the various ways in which the ORE can contribute to community economic development and building community resiliency in different contexts;
  • critically examine how the ORE can help improve equity, inclusion, and justice within communities;
  • compare and contrast different strategies for resilient ORE development;
  • discuss the importance of economic diversification and regionalism for communities investing in the ORE;
  • explain the need for integration of community economic development with broader community planning efforts;
  • adopt an anticipatory mindset to assist communities in planning and development efforts that take into account broader macroenvironmental factors; and
  • evaluate both the challenges and the opportunities associated with applying different strategies to build resilient ORE communities.

This course focuses on the practical community economic development tools that support the outdoor recreation economy and help build resilient communities. By studying these tools and how they’re commonly used, their importance to a community’s outdoor recreation economy and its resiliency will be more readily understood and appreciated.

At the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • identify and evaluate alternative approaches to developing and funding outdoor recreation amenities and activities;
  • explain how communities conserve and manage public and private land for outdoor recreation use, to reinforce their outdoor recreation economy, and to help build a more resilient community;
  • critically examine federal, state, and local government policies that support community economic development, the outdoor recreation economy, and community resiliency;
  • describe how business assistance programs and financial incentives are used to attract and retain outdoor recreation businesses;
  • explain the importance of community infrastructure to community economic development, how communities plan for and fund infrastructure, and how infrastructure supports the outdoor recreation economy and resilient communities;
  • describe destination marketing and why it’s important as a community economic development tool, especially to tourism, the outdoor recreation economy, and community resilience;
  • differentiate between public sector, private sector, and hybrid community economic development programs and how they’re managed and funded; and
  • explain how entrepreneurial ecosystems support entrepreneurs, innovation in the outdoor recreation economy, new outdoor startups, and help build resilient communities.

This course focuses on how to build community capacity and readiness for the successful development of the outdoor recreation economy. Emphasis is given to the different methods of building community capacity to ensure communities are in the best position to address challenges.

This course explores:

  • building community capital and trust,
  • the importance of community visioning and leadership development,
  • how to plan and implement meaningful and inclusive stakeholder engagement processes, 
  • how to build successful partnerships and collaborations; and
  • how to harness research and data to improve community economic development outcomes and garner widespread support for the outdoor recreation economy.

Although every community is unique and the process of community economic development through the outdoor recreation will look different from place to place, commonly identified best practices and case studies are examined so you have working examples of how the outdoor recreation economy can be developed to bring about significant economic, socio-cultural and environmental benefits to communities across the world.  

At the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • critically assess what makes resilient and sustainable communities as well as the role that the outdoor recreation economy can play,
  • identify the key components necessary to help build community capacity, readiness and empowerment to assist in the development of the outdoor recreation economy,
  • identify and discuss challenges associated with community economic development and the outdoor recreation economy,
  • examine different methods of building community capital and trust,
  • apply stakeholder engagement best practices to ensure representative, inclusive and meaningful participation in community economic development planning and visioning for the future,
  • discuss the role and importance of community visioning and leadership development,
  • examine strategic partnerships and collaborations among businesses, government and the third sector for the development of the outdoor recreation economy and identify best practices,
  • critically assess what data is relevant for understanding and communicating the potential of the outdoor recreation economy for community economic development,
  • communicate to different stakeholder groups in a variety of mediums (written and oral) utilizing research and data to create a narrative on the outdoor recreation economy; and
  • identify overall best practices for community economic development through outdoor recreation.

Synchronous Project Course (2 Credits)

In this course, you apply the concepts, knowledge and skills gained in the other courses within this certificate to complete a real-world project. You analyze, research, develop and implement innovative strategies, processes and designs and solutions as relevant to the outdoor recreation economy. This course has an experiential foundation and requires collaboration with colleagues, stakeholders and partner organizations.

This course should empower you to:

  • apply the skills and knowledge acquired during the certificate courses to complete a solutions-focused project,
  • practice how to successfully engage with a team and stakeholders; and
  • communicate professionally with the outdoor recreation industry and relevant stakeholders.

You must complete all other courses in this certificate prior to enrolling in this course.