ECU graduates first students in sustainable tourism master’s program

Stefanie Benjamin, left, and Shannon Arnold are among the first graduates in ECU's new master of science in sustainable tourism program.

Four East Carolina University students graduated this summer with a degree unlike any other; they were the first to earn the university’s new master of science degree in sustainable tourism, the first program of its kind in the United States.

Established in 2010, the degree program incorporates an interdisciplinary approach to teach students how to protect and enhance the resources of popular tourist areas, while at the same time encouraging tourism and the resulting economic boost to the area. The program reflects a growing concern about how to balance the benefits of tourism with its impact on vacation destinations.

Graduates Michaelina Antahades, far left, and Whitney Knollenberg, second from right, are pictured with Dr. Joseph Fridgen, director of academic programs for the MS-ST program (left) and Dr. Patrick Long, director of the Center for Sustainable Tourism (right).

The program draws upon emerging sustainability sciences in various disciplines at ECU. Courses provide study of sustainability through participating faculty in the university’s College of Business, the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Human Ecology, the College of Fine Arts and Communication and the College of Health and Human Performance.

The graduates were Shannon Arnold of Kinston, Stefanie Benjamin of Miami Shores, Fla., Michaelina Antahades of Charlotte and Whitney Knollenberg of Delton, Mich.

The next step for Arnold and Antahades is employment within North Carolina’s travel and tourism industry. Benjamin and Knollenberg plan to pursue doctoral degrees in hospitality and tourism management, at the University of South Carolina and Virginia Tech, respectively.

For additional information about the Center for Sustainable Tourism and the master of science program, visit


Contact: Dr. Patrick Long, director

Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University

(252) 328-4969



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