Professor Valene L. Smith - 14th UNWTO Ulysses Prize Laureate



Professor Smith, recognized as the “Mother” of tourism social science studies, is a Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at the California State University, Chico, California, United State of America, where she has been teaching for 50 years.

As a pioneer in the field of tourism and a distinguished scholar in her discipline of anthropology, Valene L. Smith’s works are numerous and make her truly deserving of the Prize. A review of her accomplishments brings to light that she has not been locked into one culture, one nation, or one geography. In the true sense of the term, she is a globetrotter of the sociocultural global village we call home. Her research is lodged in different cultures and countries and hence her contributions are holistic in nature and scope. Significantly, unlike the majority of tourism scholars, she has also been a “practitioner” as an international tour guide for American Express in 1955, started her own travel service agency in 1959, and remains a Certified Travel Counsellor.

On other fronts, Valene Smith is named as an Outstanding Educator of America, recognized as a 2000 Women of the 20th Century, and is a recipient of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Community Service Award. Still on other fronts, among being an active member of American Anthropological Association, Society for Applied Anthropology, Society of Woman Geographers, Soroptimist International of Chico, American Association of University Womena and the American Fulbright Association. In addition, she has produced documentary films and has in place the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology in California. along with being a Licensed Private Pilot. Her Autobiography-Stereopticon "Entry to a Life of Travel and Tourism Research (Cognizant, 2015)" tells her academic/professional story in her own words.


The UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge in Tourism is awarded to a distinguished scholar for his/her outstanding contribution to create and disseminate innovative knowledge in tourism.


Links of interest

Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology in California
Previous UNWTO Ulysses Prize Awardees