Publication Date

Spring 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Leslie North (Director), Jason Polk, David Keeling

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


The natural environment provides the opportunity for educators to teach the general public about scientific topics that are misunderstood. Arctic tourism has increased as accessibility to these regions has improved. Informal learning is a valuable yet extremely understudied phenomenon within the tourism industry. Iceland is a country that lies in the North Atlantic and has experienced a significant increase in foreign visitors over the past decade. Of the natural features in Iceland, glaciers have become a top attraction for visitors. Since thousands of visitors participate in guided glacier tours annually in Iceland, an opportunity to couple glacier tourism with informal education is created. This study utilized a mixed-methods approach of pre- and postoutcome assessments, semi-structured interviews, and observations to evaluate tourist perceptions during a guided glacier tour at three popular destinations in Iceland: Sólheimajökull, Into the Glacier, and Jökulsárlón. This project aimed to assess the outcomes and applicability of informal environmental education to teach about climate change during a guided glacier tour. Results identified that learning outcomes were similar among sites. Each guided glacier tourism experience is unique in nature, but collectively produced individuals that had widened perspectives and increased understanding of glaciers and climate change.


Environmental Education | Geography | Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration