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 – typically summed as “parks and recreation.” She is an applied social scientist who researches and teaches about these topics and related tourism. Her 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 vital issues for managers, visitors, and communities. She focuses primarily on relevance, sustainability, collaboration, inclusion, climate change, and scales of impact. For example, she routinely provides timely visitor use management data and links these data to more transcending, beyond-park contexts (e.g., regions, park systems). She also examines issues through a lens of multifaceted relevance, or how parks and recreation can sustain meaningful connections with a variety of audiences (e.g., visitors/participants, underserved groups, organizational partners, local communities).

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

Further project and publication details are found on Dr. Perry’s CV. She enjoys discussions on all-things-parks-and-recreation and welcomes inquiries from potential collaborators and graduate students.

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). She also has an extensive work history in national and state parks, which assists in considering how to increase the applied utility of parks and recreation social science.

Courses taught:

  • 276 – Sustaining our National Parks and Recreation Lands

  • 310 – History of Environmental Thought and Sustainability

  • 477 – Nature-based Tourism