The World Parks Congress only happens once a decade, but for the
CSU faculty members who attend, it is the experience of a
“I’m a first-year faculty member,” said Peter Newman, an
assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources
Recreation and Tourism. “For me to start off my career by going to
the World Parks Congress, it helps me strive for where I want to be
in 10 years. I want to attend the conference again, and I want to
be there not as a wide-eyed observer, but as a high-up
Newman and four other CSU faculty members attended the
conference in South Africa, which was held Sept. 8 to 17 and had
the theme, “Benefits Beyond Boundaries.” The International Union
for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) holds the
event every 10 years in a different location. Previous conferences
have been held in Seattle, Yellowstone National Park, Indonesia and
Michael Manfredo, a professor and chair of the Department of
Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism, explained the purpose of
“It is the governing body of all the parks in the world. They
keep statistics about the world’s parks, and they advance research
and training,” Manfredo said.
Attendees of the conference had to be nominated by various
agencies or other professionals in the field, Manfredo said. He
believes CSU was lucky to have five people nominated and
“For this particular event, they went through a strict
nomination process. They wanted broader representation from around
the world,” Manfredo said.
Most of the CSU faculty members who attended were funded by
outside sources. This speaks to the recognition of the excellent
faculty at CSU, Manfredo said.
Around 2,500 people attended from 187 countries, Newman
“We were addressed by world leaders including Queen Noor from
Jordan and Nelson Mandela,” he said. “It was amazing because we
would participate in these workshops, and every time we stood up to
say something, we were translated into French, English and
One of the best experiences for Newman and Manfredo was seeing
all the CSU alumni who attended the conference.
“That was the remarkable thing, to see all these people whose
lives have been touched by faculty. We got a chance to meet with
all these people whose lives we have touched,” Manfredo said.
Making contacts was also an important part of the conference for
Newman and Manfredo. Manfredo thinks these contacts will help
faculty and students in the future.
“We now have a network. We are committed to research together,”
Manfredo said. “As we make these contacts, it creates opportunities
for students and grad students.”
While the faculty members were in South Africa, they took time
to learn more about the culture. In particular, they observed
post-apartheid South Africa and also how AIDS affects the
“What was amazing,” Newman said, ” was that 40 percent of the
people living in the region we were in were HIV-positive. These are
young people we are talking about. It’s just stunning. In natural
resources, they train twice as many people as they need because
they know many of them are going to die.”
Faculty members brought the information and experiences from the
World Parks Congress back to share with students. Newman said
attending the conference has influenced his teaching.
“It’s part of my parks class. My class for that week studied the
World Parks Congress. They all understood the themes of the
congress. They could get online and actually hear speakers. They
could participate virtually,” Newman said.
Kristen Bergeron, a senior natural resources recreation and
tourism major and student in Newman’s class, talked about how her
class studied the World Parks Conference.
“We were linked on WebCT and there was a discussion posting
where we got to discuss what was going on there. Peter (Newman)
wrote about once a week and encouraged us to write questions. He
really made us feel like we were involved in the decisions being
made there,” Bergeron said.
Newman summed up what he had learned about parks during his time
at the World Parks Congress.
“What we’ve learned is that it’s not about exporting ideas, but
importing them. It’s about learning how our ideas have morphed in
other countries, and how our ideas need to change,” Newman
Manfredo also had a final thought concerning his visit to the
“We were all amazed at what we learned,” Manfredo said. “It all
trickled back to the students.”