In the blog series "EMTM Thesis Diary" students tell us about their fourth semester experience doing research and writing their master's thesis in the destination of their choice.
Yun-Jhong Harold Ho from generation 2021-2023 is currently based in Barcelona, where he is writing his master's thesis on the shifting social roles of aquariums.
If were not studying tourism, I’d probably be a marine biologist (or a fisherman). The ocean has always held a special charm for me while growing up on an island. Ever since choosing tourism as my major and now studying for a master’s with EMTM, I have been looking for a way to reconnect with the ocean.
There are numerous approaches to connecting the ocean with tourism. To name a few, island tourism, wildlife encounters, recreational fishing, and water sports. While researching it, I discovered an area that has received less attention in marine tourism studies: aquariums. Aquariums have been key players in the development of many destinations' tourism, although their association with tourism gets overlooked because aquarium studies often focus on marine biology, conservation, or animal husbandry. Therefore, it almost felt like a mission to me, using the scope of tourism to re-examine aquariums.
While my thesis focuses on "the shifting social roles of aquariums", it leads me on a journey encompassing education, philosophy, ethics, and environmental awareness together with tourism. I had no idea how rewarding writing a thesis can be when it is about a topic that you genuinely cared.
I am currently based in Barcelona, a city that provides me with excellent access to marine resources, in addition to making it very easy to connect with other parts of Europe. While doing interviews, I was also able to speak with aquariums from all continents. Listening to their viewpoints and analysing the narratives has been an enriching experience for me. Not only have I learnt about the current societal functions that aquariums operate, but we are also working together to create a fresh perspective on what it means to have aquariums in the future.
I was given the opportunity to explore this intriguing ocean and all it has to offer to the world. I love that EMTM's courses and support allow me to continue being a "fish nerd" and reconnect with the ocean. Writing a thesis may be the final stage of my student life, but I know a door to a sea of possibilities has just opened.
Written by Yun-Jhong Harold Ho (Taiwan), student of EMTM Generation 2021-2023