Hospitality: A Liberal Introduction

Article excerpt

Hospitality management higher education's historic origins have resulted in a strong vocational ethos permeating curricula. Knowledge about hospitality has been drawn from the industry and the world of work rather than from the many disciplines or other fields of enquiry, which help explain hospitality. However, it would appear that a point has been reached where there is a will for hospitality management education to break out from its vocational and action orientation and begin to explore new territories that would embrace a more liberal and reflective orientation. The impetus may reflect maturity within the field of knowledge, and/or a generational change in the professional and academic profiles of the personalities who dominate.

Thus, this paper explores hospitality management education, the movement towards the inclusion of a more liberal and reflective orientation, and provides an example of how a more liberal base was introduced into the curricula at two universities located in Australia and Scotland respectively.


The aim of this paper is to critically analyse literature associated with hospitality management and liberal education, and to consider implications for curriculum. Spanning two decades, the literature reveals some major tensions, contradictions and debates confronting contemporary hospitality management educationalists. Specifically it has been found that hospitality management education is a field of academic study that continues to struggle for definition. Acceptance of an appropriate conceptual framework remains elusive, and there is little agreement on what constitutes the core body of knowledge. Furthermore, there appears to be a significant and growing movement in support of the incorporation of a more liberal and reflective orientation in the hospitality management curriculum. The findings of this meta-analysis are employed to provide the educational architecture supporting the design and development of an introductory class to hospitality as a specialist higher education field of study.

Two higher education institutes identified the need for such a class independently, and geographically half a world apart. In 2000 an extensive curriculum review was carried out of the Bachelor of Business in Hospitality Management at the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Marketing at Victoria University in Melbourne. One of the key findings was that a subject that introduced undergraduate students to the concept of hospitality, the industry sector, and management constructs and practices was vital for the curriculum. At the same time, a major curriculum review of the Bachelor of Arts in Hotel and Hospitality Management at the Scottish Hotel School at the University of Strathclyde arrived at the same conclusion. Consequently, both universities developed an introductory class to hospitality, designed to develop an early sense of scope, context, meaning and self-understanding relative to the students' chosen specialisation, and the management issues and challenges therein. A common and collaborative approach to class design and development was adopted by the two universities, which deliberately integrated a liberal and reflective way of thinking and learning about hospitality, the industry and management practices. An overview of the class that has been piloted in Australia and Scotland respectively is provided; extracts from students work are used to demonstrate some of the results achieved; and conclusions are drawn relative to the implications for hospitality management education.

Hospitality Management Education

According to Nailon (1982) the development of hospitality management education has been evolutionary. Moreover, he advises that the curriculum in hospitality education originated from a vocational base and maintains that the traditional approach to hospitality education was based on an amalgam of craft, ritual and inherited practices. …