Faculty & Staff


Howie Harshaw, PhD

Associate Professor

Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation

About Me

Ph.D. – Forestry – University of British Columbia – 2006
H.B.O.R. – Outdoor Recreation, Parks & Tourism – Lakehead University – 1995
B.A. – Geography – Lakehead University – 1995

Prior to coming to UofA, I was a research associate in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia. In addition to teaching and graduate student supervision, I developed a research program focused on the human dimensions of natural resources, with an emphasis on outdoor recreation in an effort to understand the relationships that people have with nature, and have investigated the interactions of resource development and quality of life. Throughout my research, I have worked with communities, municipal and provincial governments, and industry to better represent the views and attitudes of the public in policy and operational decisions. I have contributed to the development and assessment of criteria and indicators for outdoor recreation in the planning of resource-integrated forested landscape planning in BC for government and the forest industry. 

I am currently involved with a number of organizations:

  • Associate Editor, Journal of Outdoor Recreation & Tourism
  • Associate Editor Leisure/Liosir
  • Deputy, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) Division 6 (Social Aspects of Forests & Forestry), Unit 6.01 (Forest Recreation, Landscape & Nature Conservation).
  • North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) Human Dimensions Working Group: Canadian representative.
  • Certificate authority and student advisor for the UofA Certificate in Sustainability.


For many people, outdoor recreation provides one of the main opportunities to experience, interact with, and learn about forested landscapes. I believe that understanding this interface is important in addressing growing public concerns with, and expectations of, natural resource management.

I am interested in public outdoor recreation on Crown lands – outside of parks and protected areas, and my research framed in terms of sustainable resource management and natural resources conservation. As outdoor recreationists are not the sole users of natural landscapes, their needs and interests must be coordinated with other stakeholders. Outdoor recreation participation in Canada is ubiquitous; the satisfaction of outdoor recreationists ought, therefore, to be an important consideration among natural resource and land-use managers and planners. My research is focused on three areas:

1.) Structural social psychological characteristics outdoor recreation participation.
Leisure and recreation have served as contexts for understanding the development of social capital through social networks. I have employed a social network approach to examine the role that social capital plays in the relationships that people have with forested landscapes through participation outdoor recreation activities in order to identify the implications of these relationships for social sustainability within the context of forest land-use planning.

2.) The role of recreation specialization in recreationists’ preferences for natural resource management.
The recreation specialization framework provides a basis for the differentiation of recreationists holding various goals, preferences, and behaviors. I am interested in understanding the relationship between recreation specialization and environmental attitudes using Riley Dunlap’s New Ecological Paradigm. I am also exploring the relationships between recreation specialization and preferences for sustainable forest management.

3.) Public participation in natural resource decision-making.
Sustainable forest management provides opportunities for the public to become involved in decision-making. I examine the effectiveness of different participation mechanisms for providing meaningful opportunities for involvement, and in documenting barriers to participation.

Current Research

  • “The Role of Social Networks & Recreation Specialization in Understanding Rock Climbers Attitudes Towards the Environment”. This project will contribute to our understanding of the relationships between recreation specialization, social networks, and environmental worldviews; this project will also inform local managers about current rock climbing use in Squamish BC. [http://www.hd-research.ca/?page_id=87]
  • “Alberta Migratory Bird Hunting Recruitment and Retention​”. This project investigates the decline of waterfowl hunting in the Canadian Prairies through an examination of different hunter recruitment, retention, and reengagement strategies.
  • “Understanding the dynamics of people’s interactions with waterfowl: Assessing stakeholder and professionals preferences for waterfowl”​​. This project is being conducted on behalf of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, a trilateral agreement between Canada, the US, and Mexico; I am working with Environment Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Service on the project to better inform the management and planning of waterfowl and wetlands across jurisdictions. This project will influence national (and international) policy and management strategies for the conservation and stewardship.


            RLS 465: Natural Areas Tourism
            RLS 210: Recreation/Leisure Scholarship