Penn State partners with national snowsports instructors group

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management and the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) have formally committed to a collaborative relationship to develop curriculum, research and opportunities for study.

As a component of this partnership, faculty members are exploring the potential for a snowsports academic pathway as part of the Recreation, Park and Tourism Management (RPTM) degree. This pathway would focus on teaching and learning snowsports and involve an integration of theory and practice to prepare people to work in snowsports with a particular focus on high-quality teaching and learning.

This partnership also will expand research in several areas, including the scholarship of teaching, the impacts of snowsports-related tourism, and the health benefits of snowsports participation.

“This partnership will allow Penn State to make significant contributions to the snowsports sector, which is a major part of the recreation and tourism industry in the United States and internationally,” said Peter Newman, professor and head of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management. “This is an important strategic development for the department because it involves partnership with a well-respected organization and contributes to our reputation of high-quality teaching, research and service.”

Pete Allison, associate professor of values and experiential learning at Penn State (in RPTM and at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center) and director of the Kurt Hahn Consortium for Values and Experiential Learning, has worked as a liaison with PSIA-AASI to develop the partnership. Previously, he developed a similar partnership with the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) while serving as head of the Graduate School of Education and Sport at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

“The partnership between Penn State and PSIA-AASI will help to ensure the quality and consistency of all PSIA-AASI courses and place Penn State as the preferred institution for academic study and research on snowsports. The partnership reinvigorates a long history of snowsports at Penn State, which goes back to Max Dercum, founder of Tussey Mountain near University Park and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, in the 1930s,” Allison said.

PSIA-AASI is a nonprofit education association with a membership of more than 32,000 men and women dedicated to promoting snowsports through instruction. The association establishes certification standards for ski and snowboard instructors and develops education materials to be used as the core components of most ski and snowboard school training.

“PSIA-AASI’s certifications are badges of honor that symbolize our members’ credibility and expertise. Our national certification standards mean that no matter where a member comes from, they teach to the same standards as thousands of PSIA-AASI members across the country,” said Nicholas Herrin, PSIA-AASI’s CEO. “Working with Penn State will help to validate our organization’s credentials since we’ll be working together to align transferable skills to gain credits for courses taken at a university level. Also, these programs will help us to grow leadership from within the snowsports industry as our members look for opportunities to advance their career, either inside or outside the snowsports industry.”

In January, Herrin and Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State, signed a memorandum of understanding to formally begin this collaboration.

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Last Updated March 27, 2018