Research within the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism reflects backgrounds ranging from psychology to sociology; from marketing to economics; from geography to rehabilitation; from communication to leisure behavior; from health and wellness to natural resources. Students are exposed to a variety of diverse and relevant perspectives on the park, recreation, sport and tourism profession.
Faculty Research Highlights
Carla Santos, Associate Professor, Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Carla Santos’ research program is focused on the examination of communicative practices (from mass mediated narratives to interpersonal communication) as a means of addressing the socio-political and cultural impact of tourism on the world’s people and cultures. Central to her research, and a source of inspiration for her theoretical work, is the notion that to understand the impact of tourism we have to explore the ways in which we talk about and make sense of destinations and hosts. Read more about Dr. Santos.
Kim Shinew, Professor, Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Kim Shinew's research addresses relationships between leisure practices and cultural diversity. Working closely with park districts in the Chicago area, Dr. Shinew has been examining boundary issues between different racial and ethnic groups. In a study of factors addressing the quality of life of residents of Little Village, a largely Latino neighborhood, she and Dr. Monika Stodolska found that things such as environmental degradation, insufficient access to open spaces, a low sense of community, fear of crime, and the undocumented status of many residents adversely affected the community's quality of life. Working within a field in which it is commonly accepted that exercise and leisure activity carries many benefits, Dr. Shinew said it is also important to identify that some of the obstacles people face, such as fear of violence in parks and recreational facilities, are seemingly insurmountable. Read more about Dr. Shinew.
Monika Stodolska, Professor, Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Monika Stodolska's research primarily focuses on issues of cultural change and leisure behavior of ethnic and racial minorities. Her projects have focused on the roles of leisure in improving health and well-being among minority populations and factors that hinder recreational opportunities among minority urban residents. For instance, her studies have examined how unequal access to quality natural environments, discrimination, and fear of crime constrain recreational opportunities among Latino and African American urban residents. She has also explored the roles leisure, recreation, and sport in the adaptation of immigrants, development of ethnic identities, and improving mental and physical health among minority populations. In one of her recent studies, conducted along with her doctoral student, Dr. Stodolska investigated changes in food practices and dietary patterns among Mexican immigrants. In another, conducted with Drs. Berdychevsky and Shinew, she examined the effects of gang involvement on health and well-being among minority youth. Read more about Dr. Stodolska.
Scott Tainsky, Associate Professor, Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Scott Tainsky identifies the values of sports fans by examining such things as attendance and television broadcast demand for professional sporting events. In a paper published in Social Science Quarterly, Dr. Tainsky and University of Michigan professor Jason Winfree examined the impact on attendance of adding international players to Major League Baseball teams. Dr. Tainsky has also examined the effects of domestic population migration and steroid policy on consumer demand for professional sports events. Undergirding all his research, he says, is the desire to disseminate information that will allow fans to reflect on their values and make informed decisions. Read more about Dr. Tainsky.