Global Good conference helps 'revision tourism' to be better for the planet

On November 10, 2023, Appalachian State University's Walker College of Business hosted Global Good, a full-day conference centered around the theme of re-imagining tourism in ways that would benefit the planet. Approximately 150 students, faculty and staff, and community members were in attendance.

"Visitors to beautiful sites around the globe are enriched through their experiences, yet that enrichment can come at a price for the environment and the local culture," said Meredith Church Pipes, one of the event’s key organizers. "But it doesn’t have to."

The event explored creative ways of engaging with the planet, both abroad and at home.

Delphin Ruché, director and cofounder of Wild Lab Projects in Norway, presented the keynote talk "Regenerative Tourism: How citizen science can save the world.” 

Ruché shared his inspiration for founding Wild Lab Project and told stories of the many citizen science projects that tourists have participated in through his organization, including research on the kelp forests off the coast of Norway and bird surveys in the Arctic.

Global Good attendees also heard from speakers making changes locally. 

Joel Olsen, owner of the Lovill House Inn, told the story of the restoration and transformation of this historic, and now award-winning and sustainable, local bed and breakfast and his goal of creating "sustainable luxury" for guests. 

Maysville Town Manager Schumata Brown and Jones County Economic Development Director John Bender joined App State's Hospitality & Tourism Management Program Director Carol Kline to tell the story of Jones County, North Carolina. Jones County currently ranks second to last in visitor spending within the North Carolina tourism economy. 

The speakers shared the challenges faced and the steps being undertaken to build a sustainable tourism destination from the ground up - incorporating such initiatives as citizen science tourism, sustainable restaurant development, low impact natural tourism and educational programs to inspire pride and interest in local fauna.

The Global Good conference combined two of the college's annual signature conferences -  Global Opportunities (GOC) and Business for Good (B4G) - as it served “to highlight innovative and entrepreneurial ways of addressing global challenges” (GOC) and “share how sustainable business practices relate to us all” (B4G).

Community partners provided morning refreshments — coffee and pastries from local bakery Stick Boy and canned water from Mananulu — and conference attendees were invited to an awards lunch after the morning talks.

View conference photos.

The Global Good Awards Luncheon recognized the exceptional contributions of Walker College faculty, staff and students in the areas of sustainability and global engagement and provided a "Sustainability Snapshot in the WCOB,"  outlining ways attendees could plug into current sustainability initiatives in the college. Jim Westerman, chair of the college’s sustain initiative and a management professor, emceed the talk on:

Award Winners

Triple E Award

The Triple E (formerly Green E) Award recognizes individuals for outstanding accomplishments in the area of sustainable business at Appalachian State University. The "E" stands for Economy, Environment and Equity.

Two faculty members were honored:

  • Dave McEvoy, Chair of the Department of Economics, for his work engaging students in climate diplomacy. 
  • Dr. Pia Albinsson, professor of marketing, for her research on collaborative consumption and the sharing economy, consumer activism and corporate social responsibility.

Inspiring International Leaders Award

Dr. McEvoy also earned the Inspiring International Leaders Award, recognizing his success in inspiring students to pursue meaningful international experiences and develop a global mindset.

McEvoy led the process of App State becoming official delegates to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is the forum for the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) that assesses progress in dealing with climate change and makes plans for climate action. In 2022, McEvoy, along with Dr. Lee Ball, chief sustainability officer for the university, took the first delegation of App State students to COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. McEvoy will return to COP 28 (in Dubai, United Arab Emirates November 30 - December 6, 2023) with App State students.

Global Citizen Award

Two students earned the Global Citizen Award, which recognizes those who have established meaningful connections with the international community beyond the classroom while abroad or on campus:

International Business Major Shea Raiola, for her campus leadership and dedication to promoting a global perspective, working to foster a welcoming environment for international students on campus. 

Hospitality and Tourism Management Major and Animal Studies Minor Caroline Bestler, who completed a three-month-long Internship with Lilongwe Wildlife Trust in Malawi, Africa and truly connected with her local hosts in authentic and lasting ways.

Faculty-led Most Valuable Participant Award

Management Major and German minor Matthias von Feilitsch earned the Faculty-led Most Valuable Participant Award, which recognizes a student  for their outstanding leadership, maturity, global perspective, intercultural communication, and engagement during international travel. Von Feilitsch is a 2023 Holland Fellow and was chosen as a delegate to the University of Zululand MBALI Entrepreneurship Conference in South Africa.


See a list of past International Award Winners

View more photos from the luncheon.

#WalkerAbroad Photo Contest Winners

Student participants in Walker College faculty-led programs, semester abroad or international internships shared images from their travels as part of the #Walker Abroad Photo Contest, and three students were honored for their photos that represented their experiences and highlighted the culture or natural beauty of their destinations.

  • 1st place: Erika Hess, Sahara Desert, Morocco
  • 2nd place: Shea Raiola, London, United Kingdom
  • 3rd place: Gabriel Braca, Mdina, Malta


About Delphin Ruché

Renowned conservationist and Wildlife Biologist Delphin Ruché served as the Global Good keynote speaker. With 20+ years of experience in nature conservation, public outreach, fieldwork in remote environments, and entrepreneurship, Ruché has long aimed to (1) get close to the wilderness and (2) contribute to its protection. He has spent 20 years traveling as a scientist and now directs a non-profit that promotes nature conservation through citizen science and regenerative tourism. Ruché aims to bring positive change where he lives and more empathy for the wild part of nature. Ruché also served as the keynote speaker at UPLIFT NC's Rural Tourism Summit Nov. 3 at NC State University.