The recently published fourth edition of “Research: USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus,” highlights faculty research that arose from challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for the hospitality and tourism industry, and heightened awareness of racial tensions and disparities in the United States during the past two years.
“The magazine, now in its fourth year, is raising the visibility of research at USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus,” said Sandra Justice, associate director of the Office of Research and Innovation at USF. “The learning environment knows no bounds when students are engaged in the research enterprise. Here at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus, faculty experts at the frontiers of knowledge in fields such as business, education, social sciences, and criminology are advancing our understanding from humanistic and societal perspectives.”
The 46-page magazine, which was published this month, includes research examining the impact of the pandemic, important ongoing work building a more just society and a wide array of connections with military veterans and the USF community.
“The magazine highlights the impact of the research being performed by members of our campus faculty, which is a crucial part of our mission as a preeminent global research university,” said Karen Holbrook, chancellor of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. “As a campus and university committed to an inclusive culture and student success, we deeply value the essential research conducted now and, in the future, to address the topics we have featured in this issue.”
The magazine explores research by hospitality and tourism experts Cihan Cobanoglu, Faizan Ali and Sir Adam Carmer that examines the devastating effects of the pandemic on various sectors of the industry and its workers – which their research predicted at the start of the crisis in March 2020 -- and possible solutions going forward.
“We wanted to give people hope and help them find their way, because the industry was lost,” said Cobanoglu, dean of the USF School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, McKibbon Endowed Chair and director of the M3 Center for Hospitality Technology and Innovation. “They didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. We wanted to provide a light so they could see around.”
An example of that resilience detailed in the story is the online certificate program spearheaded by Cobanoglu to prepare displaced hospitality workers to pivot their skills to new careers, if needed. About 6,000 students from more than 100 countries registered for the free seven-week course.
Also featured is the incredible trajectory in business at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, by most measures the fastest-growing airport in the world. The magazine features an interview with airport CEO Rick Piccolo, who also is the chairman of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus board and a member of the USF Board of Trustees, who shares both the airport’s success story and how the mutually beneficial partnership with the campus can contribute to the community’s economic success while providing a glide path for new career pathways.
The George Floyd murder, examined through the lens of social justice research, spurred thought leaders into action to discuss and address various challenges. Research examined how politics, risk perceptions, and social interaction influence COVID-19 safety practices, such as wearing masks; and disparities in opportunities for Black Americans in the hospitality industry.
Other stories in the magazine highlight research exposing the ongoing racial divide in K-12 curriculum and in the advertising industry.
Real-world assignments help prepare the next generation of culturally aware marketers. Kelly Cowart, an associate professor of marketing at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, said companies have become more sensitive to possible racial undertones in their messaging to consumers, especially when their pitches misstep.
“What we’re seeing are companies bending over backwards to show how sensitive they are to race,” Cowart said. “They’re in a hurry to show images of Black people or interracial couples using their products or services so they can give the impression that they’re a culturally and racially inclusive company. Whether that’s the case remains to be seen.”
The magazine also examines the role of interdisciplinary research at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus and the Trailblazers program, which matches graduate and doctoral students with mentors at all USF campuses.