Elizabeth 'Bess' Perry

Elizabeth 'Bess' Perry

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Assistant Professor
Department of Community Sustainability



Dr. Bess Perry is an Assistant Professor of Protected Areas and Natural Resources Recreation Management and Director of the Park Connections Lab. Her program of applied social science research spans from site-specific to regional and often includes interdisciplinary approaches, mixed methods of inquiry, and cross-scale contributions.

Dr. Perry’s work addresses critical issues for managers, visitors, and communities. She focuses primarily on relevance, sustainability, collaboration, inclusion, and climate change. Working with students and affiliates of the Park Connections Lab, Dr. Perry routinely provides visitor use management data, with links to beyond-park contexts (e.g., regions, park systems) and transcending themes (e.g., stewardship, place identity). She also uses a lens of multi-relevance, or how parks and recreation can sustain meaningful connections with a variety of audiences (e.g., visitors/participants, underserved groups, partners, local communities).

She works with many types of parks to address their unique managerial concerns and highlight their contributions to sustainability. Recent examples include urban and metro, cultural and heritage, coastal and marine, wildlife and game, partnership, linear, and iconic nature parks. This work also stretches into related recreation activities and community-focused programming, such as with trails and mountain biking amenities development. She typically works with conservation agencies, recreation organizations, and place-based collaboratives on their pressing concerns.

Dr. Perry holds a B.S. in Natural Resource Ecology – Conservation Biology (University of Idaho), M.S. in Forest Ecosystems and Society (Oregon State University), Ph.D. in Natural Resources (University of Vermont), and postdoctoral training in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management (Clemson University). Her extensive work history in national and state parks assists in considering how to enhance the utility of parks and recreation social science.

Further details are found on Dr. Perry’s CV. She welcomes discussions with potential collaborators and graduate students.

Courses taught:

CSUS 276 – Sustaining our National Parks and Recreation Lands

CSUS 310 – History of Environmental Thought and Sustainability

CSUS 431 – Interpretation and Visitor Information Systems

CSUS 477 – Nature-based Tourism

CSUS 814 – Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas Management Theories and Applications