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Barbieri Named 2017 Emerging Scholar of Distinction in Tourism

Dr. Carla Barbieri researches agritourism in Peru
Dr. Carla Barbieri (left) speaks with a Quechua farmer in Peru.

Dr. Carla Barbieri, Associate Professor in Equitable and Sustainable Tourism in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, received the 2017 Emerging Scholar of Distinction Award from the International Academy for the Study of Tourism at their biennial conference in Guanzhou, China, where she also presented the key contributions of her research to the field of tourism.

Every two years, the academy selects up to three scholars for this prestigious global award. Scholars must have completed their Ph.D. within 10 years of receiving the distinction and have significantly contributed to theory of tourism through innovative research.

“This is an international association governed by world-recognized social scientists researching tourism,” Barbieri said. “They look at your contribution to the field in the last 10 years, focusing on the cohesion and impact of your studies in contributing new ideas and to theory. So, this award is a big responsibility to keep me advancing in the field. But, it also is very cool.”

Barbieri leads the NC State Agritourism Lab, which focuses it research on the sustainability of tourism in agricultural settings as a means to promote societal well-being in the US and abroad. Within North Carolina, lab members are currently working on two projects. They are investigating the challenges and opportunities of women in agritourism to help increase their entrepreneurial success; they are also assessing the role of tourism in the development of the emerging craft-distillery industry. Abroad, the Agritourism Lab is evaluating the sustainability of community-based experiential tourism in the Andes of Peru.

“Tourism is a relatively new discipline in social science, and we’re working to provide solutions to challenges in the real world,” Barbieri said. “In my research, I start from a problem, like the decrease of family farms’ profits, and look for sustainable solutions, like agritourism, that can be incorporated in a rapidly evolving environment.”

Traditionally, researchers have approached agritourism directly, investigating the perspectives of the farmers or visitors. However, Barbieri developed a systems approach that includes considerations related to the farmer (e.g., entrepreneurial motivations), the farm household (e.g., gross income) and society (e.g., consumer trends) that enables a holistic understanding of agritourism.

“We need to analyze agritourism in a lens that makes a broad sense,” she said. “For instance, farmers’ monetary gains are not enough to measure the impact of agritourism. We also need to account that agritourism is suitable to preserve landscapes, stimulate local economies, add value to cultural assets, and create a space for young farmers who do not want engage in traditional farming. So, assessing the sustainability of agritourism needs a holistic approach.”

Barbieri also wanted to recognize the past and current members of her team who play a critical role in developing the sustainable research line in the Agritourism Lab. She received her Ph.D. from Michigan State University and her masters from the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Lima, Peru.