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Partner Profile: AC21 Consortium

AC21 (Academic Consortium for the 21st Century) is a long-standing partnership consisting of 16 member universities that work to promote multilateral cooperation in education and research between members. Established in June 2002 at Nagoya University, the network strives to build bridges and foster collaboration that can positively impact our global society.

Major initiatives of the consortium include the International Forum, International Graduate Summer School, and the Special Project Fund (SPF), which was established during the International Forum hosted by NC State in July 2008.

The SPF provides critical funding of up to $10,000 per project, strategically bringing together AC21 universities for new, mission based research collaboration and scholarly exchange. Annually, between three to five projects are funded. Through workshops, symposia, educational training, and the development of research teams, joint projects have enjoyed broad participation among scientists, academics, post-docs and graduate students from across AC21 institutions.

Five SPF projects for the 2020 cycle were selected and recently announced, including an initiative led by Dr. Yu-Fai Leung, professor and director of graduate programs in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (College of Natural Resources).

Entitled, “Workshop to Develop a Collaborative Research Network and Agenda for Antarctic Tourism,” the project builds upon preliminary investigation of the impacts of Antarctic tourism on wildlife and the environment. Dr. Leung notes, “as Antarctic tourism is growing rapidly and diversifying, it is critically important that our understanding of tourism operations, tourists’ experiences, tourism-associated environmental impacts, and the effectiveness of current management practices is also enhanced. Antarctic tourism research has a unique opportunity to bring researchers, government and non-government organizations, tour operators, and tourists themselves together to co-produce timely and useful knowledge to inform policies and practices that ensure the sustainable future of our world’s Last Frontier.”

The collaboration brings together complementary expertise and knowledge from NC State, the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, Tongji University, China as well as from outside the AC21 with contributions from Universidad San Francisco Quito, Ecuador and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain.

The project will involve the organization of an Antarctic Tourism Monitoring and Research Workshop, with the purpose of sharing current research and facilitating exchange among participants. To further widen its impact, the workshop will be held in conjunction with a major Antarctic scientific conference where a larger group of Antarctica tourism researchers and graduate students will be attending.

Learn more about NC State’s global partnerships.