University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Campus

Momentum

Fall 2023

Campus Magazine

Transatlantic partnership with Serbian university leads to second U.S. Embassy grant

By Georgia Jackson, University Communications and Marketing

A new collaboration between three University of South Florida faculty and two professors from the University of Novi Sad will expand on the success of last year’s $98,000 U.S. Embassy University Partnership grant, which launched an informative and cultural exchange between faculty and students at USF and the Serbian university.

The new project, titled “Strengthening digital sustainability communication in tourism and culture between the U.S. and Serbia,” seeks to define and bridge the gap between American and Serbian perceptions of sustainability through a neuromarketing analysis of the digital communications created by tourism entities in Florida.  

Brooke Hansen, an associate professor of instruction in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, will lead the charge with Adam Carmer, director of the Sensory Innovation Lab and assistant professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management; Laura Harrison, director of USF’s Access 3D Lab; and Miroslav Vujičić and Uglješa Stankov, professors in the Department of Geography, Tourism and Hotel Management, at the University of Novi Sad.    

“We are excited to again be partnering with our Serbian colleagues at the University of Novi Sad,” said Hansen. “This project builds on successful collaborations between the faculty on immersive technologies for sustainable cross-cultural tourism development between the U.S. and Serbia.”  

Following an online workshop hosted in October, by USF, the Serbian cohort will travel over 5,000 miles from Novi Sad to the Tampa Bay area to analyze sustainable practices at proposed local sites, such as the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Tampa Bay Watch and Chiles Hospitality, which supplies its restaurants on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key with fresh produce from its 26-acre organic farm in Parrish. The Serbian team will gather data, create 3D models with support from USF’s Access 3D Lab, located on the Tampa campus, and prepare a neuromarketing analysis of the organizations’ digital communications.  

“The Serbian team is going to take the websites and the marketing and show it to a Serbian focus group to see if they’re paying attention to the sustainability aspect of the marketing,” Hansen said. “Sustainability issues are complex and interconnected, and it can be difficult to communicate them in a way that is easy to understand and engage with. Using innovative 
digital approaches such as 3D imaging and virtual reality may enhance communication of sustainability messaging.”  

In the final phase of the project, Hansen, Carmer and Harrison will head to Serbia for a conference and academic roundtable featuring representatives from American institutions of higher-education, sustainability leaders and other stakeholders. The team will also create a web portal with sustainable communication practices.  

“Learning from one another is the essence and joy of education,” Carmer said of the continued partnership.  

Last year’s exchange included a trip to Prince Alexander’s Royal Palace, Lepenski Vir, Golubac Fortress and other Serbian tourism sites as well as a tour of several locations that highlight the importance of the hospitality and tourism industry to the state of Florida, including Busch Gardens, St. Armand’s Circle and downtown Sarasota. The group also visited USF’s Access 3D Lab, where they were presented with the latest virtualization and 3D modeling technologies, the augmented reality development in hospitality and tourism and the immersive sensory pedagogies used in food and beverage tourism. 

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Momentum is published by USF Research and Innovation and the Office of University Communications and Marketing on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. The University of South Florida, a member of the Association of American Universities, is a high-impact research university with campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee.