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Group of Seven Lake Superior Trail

The Ontario Trails Integrated Curriculum Design (ICD) Projects are a series of joint community-based research projects and educational initiatives being undertaken by the University of Waterloo's Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies in partnership with the Ontario Trails Council and trail organizations across Ontario, including the Bruce Trail Conservancy, Hastings Destination Trails, and the Hydrocut.

Each Ontario Trail Research Project entails a unique student led, instructor supported, research project where students from the University of Waterloo's first year Introduction to Tourism class are working to address a specific research need identified by their Ontario Trails Organization partner, in conjunction with Project Leads the fourth year Advanced Seminar in Tourism Development.

Through these partnerships, students have the opportunity to address some of the following Trail Organization-identified needs: 

  • Development of a Social Media Tool Kit and set of Social Media Best Practices for Tourism,

  • Completion of a literature review and identification of industry best practices related to effective communication with trail users,

  • Completion of a COVID-19 and Trails Media Analysis, and

  • Development and piloting of several Trail-Specific User Experience Surveys.

At the end of the semester, each organization currently participating in the Ontario Trails Research Project program will receive an Executive Summary as well as a series of infographics highlighting their study's findings. To support project completion, each organization has nominated two staff members, Board members or volunteers to act as Project Liaisons. In the coming weeks, Project Liaisons will be meeting with students for an initial consultation meeting, to discuss how the student research teams can meet their needs. Later in the semester, Project Liaisons will be able to provide feedback on students’ presentations of their interim findings, which will be incorporated into the final deliverables, namely the Executive Summary and Infographics, provided to each Organization. You can learn more about our Community Partners here.


Current projects are running from January 11th, 2021 through to April 16th, 2021 (the end of the Winter 2021 semester at the University of Waterloo). However, as these classes are offered on an annual basis there are opportunities for additional partner organizations to participate in Winter 2022. Furthermore, several current partners are in the process of setting up Co-Opportunities for students from these classes to continue their research over the summer while also gaining valuable hands-on industry experience.


If you are interested in participating in the Winter 2021 Ontario Trails ICD Projects, please email Kelsey Johansen.

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