Introducing Lynn Minnaert, our new Head of Subject

We sat down for a chat with Professor Lynn Minnaert, who has recently joined Edinburgh Napier University as the Head of Subject for Tourism and Languages. In this post, we find out more about her background and aspirations.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I am originally from Belgium. I have worked in tourism education for the past 20 years, most recently as the Academic Chair at the Tisch Center of Hospitality at New York University, and before that at the University of Surrey and the University of Westminster. I have also worked on projects in range of other countries, including Kazakhstan, Finland, Sweden, Dominica and Brazil.

What is your area of research interest? 

My research interest and passion is social inclusion in tourism: I have worked on studies about social tourism for low-income groups, family tourism, event legacies and DEI in the event sector.

Why did you decide to join Edinburgh Napier University?

I was excited about joining ENU because of its strong reputation in tourism, hospitality, events and intercultural communication. The teaching team is creative and dynamic, and has strong industry networks, which benefit students in and outside of the classroom. We have subject specialists who are world-renowned in their fields, and are one of the oldest providers of tourism, hospitality and event education in the nation. Also, Edinburgh is an amazing location to learn about and research these topics!

What are your aspirations for the subject group?

My aspirations are to strengthen our position and reputation as a centre for teaching and research excellence, and as a hub for industry innovation. The objective is that by delivering student-centred, applied and rigorous programmes, as well as producing cutting-edge research, our students, alumni and staff will play leading roles in their industries and communities, as a force for good.

Thank you, Lynn, for your time taking this interview. We are delighted to have you in the team and look forward to working together.

Where are they now? ENU alumnus, Brianna Wyatt, gives an overview of her career so far

Dark tourism is an increasingly popular subject nowadays. It implies the idea of visiting tourist attractions that are associated with death and suffering.

Edinburgh Napier alumnus, Brianna Wyatt has been researching dark tourism for many years, and is now a senior lecturer at Oxford Brookes University. She gave us an overview of her career and an update on where she is now.

Originally from California, I moved to Edinburgh in 2014 to undertake the MSc programme in Heritage and Cultural Tourism Management. After graduating, I was awarded Edinburgh Napier University’s 50th Anniversary Scholarship to undertake a PhD study in tourism.

Although initially I sought to explore ‘dark’ World Heritage Sites, which landed me in an internship at UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris (2015), I completed my PhD in 2019 focusing on the influences of interpretation at lighter dark visitor attractions. This effort was supported by my part-time work as a guest services staff member at The Real Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh and a Duty Manager for Edinburgh Dungeons, and later London Dungeons.

Supported by my previous awards (MA Humanities-History, California State University of Dominguez Hills, 2015; MA Museum Studies, Oklahoma University, 2012), and a PGC in Business Research Methods from Edinburgh Napier University (2017), I quickly became employed after graduation (2019) with Bath Spa University, as a Senior Lecturer in tourism at their sister campus in London.

I later made a transition to Oxford Brookes University, where I am now a Senior Lecturer in tourism and events and the PG Subject Coordinator for the Hospitality, Tourism and Events programmes. I am also an active academic with a research interest in interpretation design of dark tourism experiences.

In addition, I have an interest in experience design for heritage tourism, as well as events and festivals. I have acted as a consultant for a Horrible Histories workshop, providing insight into interpretation of dark histories, and have taken up two separate External Examiner posts for tourism and events programmes at two universities in Scotland.

Most recently, I have been exploring defunct penal institutions, on a global scale, and their conversion into places of accommodation, which will be shown in forthcoming publications. I had the opportunity to showcase my research relating to edutainment interpretation within lighter dark tourism at Edinburgh Napier University’s dark tourism symposium on 5 May 2022.

Congratulations, Brianna, on all your achievements, we couldn’t be more proud!

If you too have an area of interest you would like to research whilst undertaking a PhD with us, please email Tourism Research Centre Lead, Prof. Anna Leask.