It isn't every day that National Geographic comes calling to partner on an innovative geotourism book. Yet for Niagara University professor Jan van Harssel, Ph.D., that is exactly what happened.
van Harssel, who has been teaching at Niagara for 25 years, recently completed a two-year project as lead author on a book titled "National Geographic Learning's Visual Geography of Travel and Tourism." The 550-page publication was undertaken in association with the National Geographic Society and Cengage Learning, an educational book publisher.
The visually stunning book takes readers through a concept known as "geotourism," which aims to introduce many aspects of world geography while exploring established and emerging tourist destinations worldwide. The in-depth book covers world destinations in 12 sections, which are then divided into 40 chapters, each presenting key facts and touristic details specific to the individual country and region.
van Harssel credits his "dream team," a group of his devoted Niagara University students and alumni, with helping him compile the book. The team included Amy Domiano, a 2012 NU graduate from Buffalo; Emily Senif, a senior from Fly Creek, N.Y.; and Ashley Gladney, a senior from Charlotte, N.C. For an entire semester, the group met regularly in the library at 8 a.m. to research destinations, compile information and develop ideas for the chapters from the extensive National Geographic photo database.
The book comes with a downloadable mobile application and online links to learning resources on the National Geographic website. It is also available in Niagara University's campus store.
van Harssel, who through the years has traveled the globe, now does most of his sightseeing stateside with his wife and two golden retrievers. Last summer, he, his wife and their canine companions visited 20 states and 10 national parks in their motorhome.
For more information on Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, call 716-286-8279 or visit www.niagara.edu/hospitality.