Sonya Graci, Ph.D.
Where are you from and where/what did you study?
I am from Toronto and I have a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from the University of Toronto, a Joint Masters of Arts in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Geography with a focus on corporate social responsibility and sustainable tourism from the University of Waterloo.
Why did you choose tourism and hospitality?
Throughout my academic and industry career, I was always interested in corporate social responsibility in the tourism industry. I have also always been focused on development work and believe that tourism can be a tool to alleviate poverty (if planned and implemented correctly). I found it fascinating that the tourism and hospitality industry is mainly voluntary in terms of reducing their environmental and social impacts and wanted to work with businesses and destinations in tourism to increase their level of sustainability. TRSM was a natural fit for me as having come from Toronto I was very familiar with the practical applications of the school. As I am an academic with practical applications and build my work on partnerships with industry, TRSM and Ryerson was a great fit.
How did you become a researcher?
I became a researcher while completing my undergrad. I worked on developing a green hotels program in 1993 for the Toronto Olympic Bid with the late, great Jack Layton as my professor. It really got me excited. It was through this project that I developed a passion for research and for working on problems with communities and industry and increasing the level of sustainability in the world. Being a researcher suits my personality because I am able to work on various projects at one time and use knowledge to create change in the world.
What are you researching right now?
Right now I am researching best practices in sustainable Indigenous tourism both within Canada and internationally. This study is focused on the factors that create a best practice including but not limited to community-based tourism and authenticity.
How can you get students engaged in hospitality and tourism research?
I believe that students are introduced to research and data analysis too late into the completion of their degree! Students can be engaged in research by being provided opportunities to research in their classes and also taking advantage of work-study opportunities at the Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Research.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering a career in research, what would it be?
Researching is a passion. It is about fulfilling your need for knowledge and can be a rewarding career.
What are your major interests outside of HTMResearch?
My major interests include finding adventures, both within the city and abroad with my children. I love to travel and have a passion for exploring new places. I am an avid bookworm and very social. I love going out for dinner and hanging out with friends. I am very passionate about organic and sustainable food and love perusing farmers markets.
575 Bay Street (entrance at 55 Dundas Street West)
Room: TRS 3-175, 9th floor Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2C3
350 Victoria Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5B 2K3