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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Why Working in Sustainable Tourism Can Make the World A Better Place

1. Fast-growing Economic Sector

One of the fastest growing sectors not just in tourism, but in the whole economy, sustainable tourism stimulates economic growth and job creation.  When tourism is “sustainable,” there is an implied permanence—and a conservation of resources.  As sustainable tourism takes off, the need for jobs to protect wildlife, biodiversity, and fragile ecosystems for people to visit becomes clear—as does the need for experts who can act as “tour guides” of a sustainable tourist destination.

2. Tourism Linked to Development

Sustainable tourism generates jobs, which generates increases in incomes, which creates options for people—and allows them to improve their quality of life.

Consider the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), an international development agency that promotes private entrepreneurship in the developing world.  One of their subsidiaries includes Tourism Promotion Services, which owns and manages 26 hotels, resorts, lodges, and camps in Africa and Asia—all under one brand name.  Their goal?  To catalyze local growth of private sector ventures by coalescing international investment, business skills, and local knowledge.  AKFED focuses on using local or regional suppliers whenever possible, relying on local networks, offering internship opportunities for local youth, and building local infrastructure, in addition to building its properties.  One project that AKFED has encouraged?  Access to clean drinking water in places where they have projects.

For more examples of how tourism and development are linked, check out Harvard University’s report on “The Role of the Tourism Sector in Expanding Economic Opportunity.”

3. Support of Marginalized Voices

When local people in local communities have a voice in projects that are bigger than they are (see #2), there is a greater likelihood that they will gain the confidence and skills to speak out about issues affecting them.

For example, orphans are a group of people who are notoriously marginalized.  Despite that the number of orphans has declined world-wide, the number of orphanages has increased in developing countries.  Why? An overwhelming number of generally well-intentioned Western tourists who want to travel and volunteer to “do good.”

Sustainable tourism moves away from the concept of “do-good” travel and avoids models that allow tourists or local economies to exploit and capitalize on the misfortune of others.  Instead, sustainable tourism is built on the idea that communities can capitalize on their own resources to attract interested travelers. Rather than taking advantage of marginalized groups, sustainable tourism can give those voices a chance to speak out.

4. Variety of Jobs to Local Communities

Communities that have poor material wealth, but a wealth of culture, history, and heritage have an advantage.  Hotels, restaurants, adventure guides, food suppliers, and other needs for goods and services have the opportunity to provide high-paying, stable jobs for local residents.  Within those places are needs for tour guides, translators, cooks, cleaners, drivers, hotel managers and staff, and other needs, like access to medical care—which translates to a need for doctors and nurses.

As local communities develop around tourist centers, local families can settle.  The needs for other infrastructure become apparent: schools, health care centers, and roads—and the people to maintain them.

5. Rise of Responsible Travel

As sustainability becomes more mainstream in tourism, more tourists are opting to travel “responsibly.”  In 2016, theCenter for Responsible Travel reported that 50 million more tourists traveled internationally in 2015 than in 2014.  They cite the “social and environmental imperative” for responsible travel growing partly in response to the rate of climate change.  They cite research studies that show travelers consider eco-friendly practices when traveling, and that traveling for traveling’s sake is less of an appeal than traveling with a purpose and some research.

6. Earn Your Degree in Sustainable Tourism

Interested in becoming part of sustainable tourism?  Earn a degree that will prepare you for the opportunities and challenges of this emerging industry.

Consider the School of Tourism and Hospitality—The Ostelea.  With campuses in Barcelona and Madrid, the school offers hospitality courses in both English and Spanish.  Take a look at their Master’s in Sustainable Tourism Destinations and Territorial Tourism Planning.  You’ll also have the opportunity to learn the marketing side of sustainable travel and have a sense of how to move forward in this exciting field.

Italy is well-known as a destination for tourism studies, and the European Institute of Design offers a Masters in Design in sustainable tourism. Or look to Portugal, where you can earn a Master in Sustainable Tourism Management from the Polytechnic of Leiria.

8 Inspiring Women Artists Worth Getting to Know

1.Hildegard of Bingen

She lived most of her life in solitude in a hilltop Rhineland monastery more than 900 years ago, but her legacy is a lasting one.  According to Classic FM, “This remarkable woman had left behind a treasure-trove of illuminated manuscripts, scholarly writings and songs written for her nuns to sing at their devotions.” And yet her name didn’t even appear in a reference book prior to 1979.

While in her lifetime Hildegard’s work was never heard beyond the walls of the remote convent where she lived, Today, she is regarded as one of the first known composers of music in Western history, and praised for her “sublime, life-affirming” music. After all, how many 12th century works can claim contemporary hit status? That’s exactly what Hildegard accomplished when her song A Feather on the Breath of God sung by soprano Emma Kirby enjoyed popular success in the 1980s.

2. Sofonisba Anguissola

The life of a female artist during the Renaissance and Baroque periods was anything but easy. While their male counterparts were being heralded as virtuoso, AKA “mortal Gods,” they were denied by critics who regarded them as the “passive sex” and unworthy of wielding the painter’s brush. Says Artsy, “These women fervently fought back, developing innovative painting techniques and advancing younger generations of female artists, teaching them to eschew the men who would try to stifle their development.”

One of the female Renaissance artists who is now globally recognized for her contributions to both the genre of portraiture and gender conventions. Sofonisba Anguissola, whose groundbreaking Self Portrait with Bernardino Campi (1550) is described by Artsy as “a nearly 500-year-old rejection of patriarchal authority.”

3. Agnes Denes

This Hungarian-born American conceptual artist is celebrated for her work in a huge range of media, including everything from poetry to sculpture and beyond. Her best-known work, the environmental installation Wheatfield — A Confrontation (1982), juxtaposed two acres of wheat in the heavily populated spaces, rubble-strewn spaces in lower Manhattan. Denes has said that her motivations for the work “grew out of a long-standing concern and need to call attention to our misplaced priorities and deteriorating human values.”

In her book, Fragile Ecologies: Contemporary Artists’ Interpretations and Solutions, Barbara Matilsky wrote, “The project was an exuberant and daunting task celebrating the tenacity of life. By creating an artwork with wheat, a grain planted throughout the world, Denes also called attention to hunger and the mismanagement of resources. Wheat was transformed into a symbol, as the artist’s work highlighted incongruities…The activities of the city and the countryside came together for a brief time. After harvesting, the hay was fed to the horses stabled by the New York City Police Department and some of the grain traveled around the world in the exhibition “International Art Show for the End of World Hunger” organized by the Minnesota Museum of Art, 1987-90). The ecological cycle was thereby complete.”

4. Rachel Whiteread

Before the age of 40, British artist Rachel Whiteread had already received the annual Turner Prize, and she’d been chosen as one of several Young British Artists to exhibit at the Royal Academy’s Sensation exhibition. Today, she lives and works in London.

Says Gagosian of her work, “Rachel Whiteread’s approach to sculpture is predicated on the translation of negative space into solid form. Casting from everyday objects, or from spaces around or within furniture and architecture, she uses materials such as rubber, dental plaster and resin to record every nuance. In recent large-scale works, the empty interiors of wooden garden sheds were rendered in concrete and steel, recalling the earlier architectural works Ghost (1990), House (1993), and the imposing concrete sculpture Boathouse (2010), installed on the water’s edge in the remote Nordic landscape of Røykenviken.”

5. Georgia O’Keeffe

In giving 20th century painter Georgia O’Keeffe a spot on its list of “The 10 Most Subversive Women Artists in History,” The Guardian explained, “Compared with some artists in this list she may seem soft, but her cussed exploration of her own body and soul mapped out a new expressive freedom for women making art in the modern age.”

Largely regarded as a pioneer of American art, she produced thousands of works throughout her career, and was most known for her depictions of flowers, skyscrapers, animal skulls, and southeastern landscapes. She received both the Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts for her contributions.

Of her work O’Keeffe said, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”

6. Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

In addition to painting Marie Antoinette more than 30 times in her capacity as the queen’s personal portrait painter, she also left behind more than 600 portraits and 200 landscapes.

What separates Vigée Le Brun from the others on this list? She was famous in her own time as one of France’s most popular portraitists. After fleeing France during the French Revolution, she was welcomed by the aristocrats of Europe — including Russia’s Queen Catherine — who continued to commission her fashionable signature work.  She eventually returned to France, where she painted such luminaries as the Prince of Wales, Caroline Murat (Napoleon’s sister) and author Germaine de Staël.

7. Harriet Powers

This southern African American quilt maker born a slave in Georgia in 1837 is well-known for her extraordinary work which depicted scenes from both American history and the Bible using the applique technique. Today, Powers has only two surviving story quilts: One is now part of the National Museum of American History collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. while the other is on exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Says the Georgia Encyclopedia, “Powers’s quilts are remarkable for their bold use of applique for storytelling and for their extensive documentation. Her use of technique and design demonstrates African and African American influences. The use of appliqued designs to tell stories is closely related to artistic practices in the republic of Benin, West Africa. The uneven squares suggest the syncopation found in African American music.”

8. Lavinia Fontana

It’s hardly a surprise that Italian painter Lavinia Fontana has been categorized as a “subversive and inspirational” artist. After all, she was the first woman artist to paint female nudes. She also boasts the largest documented body of work among female artists before 1700.

Says the National Museum of Women in the Arts of Fontana, “She made great strides in the field of portraiture, which garnered her fame within and beyond Italy. In fact, Fontana is regarded as the first woman artist, working within the same sphere as her male counterparts, outside a court or convent.”

While certainly women’s contributions to art are recognized more now than they were in the past, gender inequality is still an issue as women remain underrepresented throughout the art world. (Need more proof? Check out the numbers for yourself.) Which begs the question: Are you up for the challenging of doing your part to “put an end to sexism in art?”  If so, a master’s degree program in Art may be the perfect place to start.

Why it’s Never Too Late for A Master’s in Design Studies

1. STEM and Design

STEM and design go hand-in hand.  Design work requires critical thinking and planning to solve complicated, community-based problems. When STEM students consider projects like building a self-propelled vehicle, or designing a sustainable garden ecosystem, they need to draw on their scientific knowledge in addition to their design knowledge.

When Steve Jobs designed the first Macintosh computers, he cared as much about the engineering and programming as he did about the aesthetic and form of the product—that the appearance of the product should match the seamlessness of the math and science behind it—even down to the font.

2. Business and Design

A great business idea isn’t going to work without great design.  They go hand-in-hand.  At the center of any business plan is user experience, or UX.  Design helps business students understand how user experience and design interface are related.  Business majors should focus on learning UX principles.  What does this mean?

Make your product data-driven.  Test and tweak your product until your data shows which UX configurations work the best.  This way, users tell you about their experience, and you design based on that.

Practice.  Mockup your design with good old-fashioned paper and pencil.  Design a website, an app, or even a popular product’s homepage.  Why?  It forces you to think about translating user needs to interface.

Get inspired.  Study well-designed websites to figure out how the designers maximized UX.

3. Humanities, Social Sciences, and Design

Design is embedded in our everyday lives—with the intent to improve standards of living for people.  How we listen to music.  How we talk to people.  How we buy food.  How we consume media.  How we go to the doctor.  How we use transportation.  How we raise our children.  Where we live and why.

Design education promotes visual literacy—from signs, symbols, emblems, pictures, and emojis, design is intrinsic to our daily perceptions of the world around us.

Its focus on critical thinking encourages designers in the humanities and social sciences to re-imagine how we think about the world’s problems: pollution, overpopulation, poverty, hunger, healthcare—and how we create positive “user” experiences to solve those problems.

Multidisciplinary students considering design should consider two places to study to get the most from their design studies, both in Milan: the Nuova Academia Di Belle Arte, Milano (NABA), and Domus Academy.

What’s unique about them?  Well, they’re both in Milan, Italy, for one—the axis of the design world.  With design stars like Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, and Versace, to name a few, you’ll be in good company.

Both programs offer an interdisciplinary methodology, experts in the field, an integration between education and research, and a global reach. And both programs offer scholarship competitions for international students. An added bonus – if you earn a scholarship, you not only help fund your studies but you get to work with prestigious international companies that have partnereed with NABA and Domus Academy.

NABA specifically offers postgraduate work for designers looking to hone their skills in communication design, creative advertising, product design, interior design, and visual design.

Domus Academy focuses on creating postgraduate programs in business and fashion that maximize students’ real-world design experiences.  At the heart of Domus Academy’s program is the internship.  With alumni including Vogue editor-at-large Anna della Russo, and students who secure jobs at big companies like Nokia, Whirlpool, Gucci, LG, Microsoft, and Ford, Domus Academy will guide you towards success.

Why Smart Cities and Engineers are a Perfect Fit

The global market for smart cities is projected to skyrocket to US$1.2 trillion by the year 2020, according to a report from Global Industry Analysts, Inc. The potential benefits of smart cities are many, including higher quality of life, more equitable opportunities for all; unparalleled social, environmental and economic growth; increased participation from smart citizens; massive consumption reductions in both energy and water; and enhanced interconnectivity, communication and response, including during natural and manmade calamities.

All of which begs the question: What, exactly, is a smart city? In setting out to answer this question, The Pew Charitable Trusts ultimately came up with the following conclusion: It depends on who you ask.

Brooks Rainwater of the National League of Cities told Pew, “The concept of a smart city is somewhat amorphous, but it’s focused on cities leading with technological innovation,” while Jesse Berst of the Smart Cities Council said, ““It’s just using digital technology to improve community life.” Kansas City’s innovation analyst Kate Garman summed it up as “a paradigm shift in the way we think.”

The Hindu Times, meanwhile, offers the following, more specific definition: “A ‘smart city’ is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability. It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents. There are many technological platforms involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres.”

While the definition may be somewhat slippery, we can all agree that smart cities do share some common characteristics, with mobility and connectivity at their core. But these bedrocks of smart cities ultimately serve a higher purpose: the wellbeing of inhabitants.

In discussing smart city features which not only make our environments more efficient, but also safer, friendlier and cleaner, David Perry, Director of Development and International Affairs at Lille, France’s HEI: Hautes Etudes d’Ingénieur, told Masterstudies, “We need to find solutions to what 20th century urbanism has left out, that is urban life metabolism and the flows that connect us to nature. What we take in, what we give off — circular economies.”

Where Are the Smart Cities?

Smart cities may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but the truth is that they’re alive and well all over the world. When asked to name a few of the globe’s smart cities, Perry rolled off an impressive list: “To name just a few prominent examples which demonstrate the variety of Smart Cities worldwide, we could mention: Digital Greenwich and London, England; Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba in Brazil; Paris and Lille in France; Yangon and Mandalay in Myanmarand Thessaloniki, Greece.” He continued, “There are many more. Barcelona, Amsterdam, Marrakech and others on all continents. Let’s not forget the great cities of Mumbai, Singapore and Jakarta or the cities of Mexico City and New York.

In this breadth and depth or examples of urban development and connectivity, lies the “nature and attraction of smart cities,” according to Perry.

Investing in the tremendous potential of smart cities is imperative, says smart city and IT Expert Vasco Gonçalves, CEO of consulting agency SDNC sàrl, who recently called for The European Union Commission, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to commit to investing in “experimental city and make all the data available for free to European industries, universities and the rest of the world, or for a little fee, so that everybody, including small businesses, have a chance to participate.”

How Do You Fit In?

Universities — and engineers, in particular — are stepping up as leaders in the shift to smart cities. Take the five-year-old SunRise smart city project out of Lille University’s Civil Engineering and Geo-Environment Laboratory (LGCgE). This large-scale experiment involves the building of a model smart city where a team of engineers could undertaking planning and testing while gathering data toward creating the true embodiment of the concept with optimal resilience and sustainability at the forefront.

Of course, smart cities don’t happen on their own. A vital part of the equation? Smart people with ICT knowledge to innovate and implement the technology. If you’re looking to become a leading contributor in the field, a Master of Science and Engineering (MSE) in Smart Cities from HEI can help you gain the training you need to succeed.

Not only does HEI’s prime Lille location offer first-hand experience with smart living, but it also boasts numerous other benefits for aspiring engineers in this field, including plenty of opportunities for practical experience thanks to internships and a future-oriented curriculum.

One of the program’s most noteworthy features, says Perry? It’s student-oriented approach. He said, ““We are concerned about the future for us, our students’ careers and our Industrial stakeholders. We have been for 130 years. Our graduates are successful in their chosen professions, globally oriented, Multicultural and multilingual world citizens who easily adapt to their respective career environments.”

Smart cities aren’t without their share of challenges pertaining to everything from scalability to security. With training and tools from HEI, however, engineering grads are uniquely positioned to play a key role in transforming these obstacles into something else: opportunities.