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Broken Marble

Research Philosophy


Discover and Create

Mountain View

Dr. Kelsey Johansen is an interdisciplinary and pragmatic scholar, inspired by a desire to find meaningful, community engaged, solutions to real world problems.

As an interdisciplinary scholar, Kelsey draws on literature from anthropology, geography, recreation, tourism and leisure studies, and therapeutic recreation professional practice to inform the development and practice of her diverse research projects and scholarship.

Predominately a qualitative and ethnographic researcher, Kelsey takes a pragmatic approach to research, and is adept at community-based, participatory action research, and mixed methods scholarship, including both quantitative research and statistical analysis, as well as public consultation and outreach.

As an educator and a research supervisor, Kelsey actively looks for ways to introduce students to research, whether its through community-service learning projects in the classroom and extended learning environment, paid employment as a research assistant on her projects, or through supervision of capstone projects, directed studies, or Honours or Masters' theses work. To this end, Kelsey has supervised full-time research assistants through University co-op programs, hired part-time undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral research assistants, and mentored and supervised students supporting the transcription and analysis of complex data sets. She has also supervised Masters students, and sat on Masters' thesis committees.

As an interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Kelsey Johansen aims to contribute to the theory and practice of tourism and recreation academically and within the communities in which she undertakes research.  She is a qualitative and mixed methods researcher with a social constructivist perspective, strongly influenced by the anthropological study of tourism, the philosophy of recreation and leisure and social justice issues emerging in the recreation and tourism industries. Kelsey's research focuses on narratives produced by and for tourists/recreationists, the transmission of inter-cultural knowledge and sustainability practices, host and guest interactions, the phenomenological experience of tourism, recreation and leisure, and rural community tourism development.


Research Directions

Currently, Dr. Kelsey Johansen in undertaking a Postdoctoral Fellowship (Water Recreation, Well-Being and Tourism) exploring the the experiential, economic, and societal value of blue spaces, particularly from the perspective of recreation, well-being, and tourism. Her research is situated within the context of the Finnish Lakeland Region.


Kelsey is also involved in several external collaborative research projects, as Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-Investigator (Co-I). Her research spans empirical, theoretical, practical, and applied topics at the intersection of adventure, outdoor recreation, tourism, (rural) economic development, and the sustainable development and management of blue spaces, trails, parks, and protected areas.

She also serves as Chair of the Trail Research Hub, a dedicated group of trail researchers and practitioners from academia, industry and community who undertake research, education, and outreach initiatives to support sustainable trail development, construction, and maintenance across Canada while establishing best practice guidelines for trails governance and management.

Kelsey's research also includes the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). She recently led an interdisciplinary team of researchers exploring how best to design, deliver, and assess online outdoor experiential learning seminars in blended learning settings while ensuring that they foster opportunities to achieve experiential, place-based, and outdoor learning outcomes and cultivate place attachment and pro-environmental attitudes among students. This project was supported by the Learning Innovation and Teaching Enhancement (LITE) Seed Grant from the University of Waterloo.

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