Profile for Laurie Harmon

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Laurie Harmon

Recreation Management & Therapeutic Recreation
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Specialty area(s)

My primary areas of research are social-psychological outcomes of nature-based recreation including how we come to know and get connected to places, technology and the outdoors, and the scholarship of teaching & learning.  I particularly enjoy the work I do using underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to get youth and adults connected to aquatic environments.

Brief biography

I am a Landscape Architect who has morphed into academics. After designing golf courses in Michigan for 7 years. I returned to complete a Master's Degree at Michigan State University. During that time, I also raised a Leader Dog for the Blind - it was a wonderful way to engage with students & faculty while being a part of something much greater than ourselves. I completed my PhD in Leisure Studies at The Pennsylvania State University and have been teaching in recreation since 2004. After excellent teaching opportunities in the greater Washington DC area, I arrived at UW-La Crosse in 2012 and am very happy with the decision to be part of the Recreation Management & Therapeutic Recreation faculty - we have an excellent and student-centered group of individuals here.

In terms of research, I am interested in how we come to know and become connected to the natural places in our world and how they affect our cognitive, psychological, and emotional development. My work is conducted in a variety of National Parks (e.g. Sequoia & Kings Canyon, The National Mall, Isle Royale) as well as local natural areas. I am also interested in how technology affects our place interactions. With my Michigan colleagues, I have used underwater robots, for example, to help youth engage with a variety of aquatic environments.

I love to help folks become more engaged with the outdoors and particularly enjoy hearing how they interact with the natural environment in ways that allow the environment to flourish and be available for future generations. Please feel free to e-mail or drop by any time.

Current courses at UWL

I have either taught or am currently teaching the following courses:

FYS 100 - Time Wasted or Time Well Spent?  Leisure in the New Millennium

REC 204 - Introduction to Outdoor Education

REC 306 - Environmental Ethics, Outdoor Recreation, & Natural Resources

REC 330 - Recreation Resources Management

REC 335 - Environmental Education

REC 340 - Research & Evaluation

REC 400/500 - Planning for Park & Recreation Facilities (undergrad & grad level)

REC 404 - Budgeting in the Recreation Enterprise

REC 711 - Leisure Services Management (graduate level)

REC 731 - Data Evaluation & Management (online RM Master's program)

REC 737 - Biophilia (online RM Master's program)

REC 740 - Outdoor Education (graduate level)


The Pennsylvania State University
Doctor of Philosophy in Leisure Studies
Dissertation: Place attachment and visitors to Isle Royale N.P.
Minor: Social Psychology

Michigan State University
Master of Science in Park, Recreation, and Tourism Resources
Bachelor of Landscape Architecture


Teaching history

Rather than a history, here is my teaching philosophy:

As an educator, my goal is to create a learning environment that embraces the following: 1) create an engaging learning environment through authentic experiences; 2) foster problem solving and critical thinking opportunities; and 3) encourage self-discovery and empowerment through innovation.  Within this context, I do my best to foster a collaborative and constructive learning environment while encouraging students to develop professionally relevant skills such as initiative, confidence, and critical thinking.

Research and publishing

Publications include the following:

Kumm, B. E., Harmon, L.K., Evans, K., Plunkett, D., & Widuch, D. (2019). The benefits of collaboration:  From curriculum mapping to a community of practice. SCHOLE (Special Issue on Navigating Academic Life).

Daniels, M. J., Harmon, L.K., Vese, R., Park, M., & Brayley, R.E. (2018). Spatial dynamics of tour bus transport within urban destinations. Tourism Management, 64, 129-141.

Harmon, L.K. (2016). Place Perceptions. In Bricker, K. & Nickerson, N. (Eds.). Demystifying Theories in Tourism. CABI Publishing.

Harmon, L.K. & Haas, G. (2016). Planning and Decision Making. In Baas, J. & Burns, R. (Eds). Best Practices in Recreation Resources Planning: A Resource Guide for Planners. Venture Publishing: State College, PA.

Daniels, M. J., Harmon, L.K., Barrow, M., Park, M., Brayley, R.E. & Vese, R. (2015). Heritage tourism within a capital city: Symbolism and dissonance. Tourism Review International, 19, 1-18.

Samaras, A. P., Karczmarczyk, D. Smith, L., Woodville, L., Harmon, L., Nasser, I., Parsons, S., Smith, T., Borne, K., Constantine, L., Roman-Mendoza, E., Suh, J., Swanson, R. (Book chapter under final review). The shark in the vitrine: Experiencing our practice from the inside out with cross-disciplinary lenses. In Pithouse, K, Mitchell, C., & Pillay, D. (Eds.). The inward I”: Enacting reflexivity in Higher Education research. Human Sciences Research Council Press.

Daniels, M. J., Park, M., Harmon, L.K. & Brayley, R.E. (in press). Risk management realized: The National Mall & Memorial Parks. Manuscript accepted for publication to International Journal of Culture, Tourism & Hospitality Research.

Paden, R., Harmon, L. & Milling C. (2013). Philosophical Histories of the Aesthetics of Nature. Environmental Ethics. 1-17. Vol.35.

Samaras, A. P., Smith, L., Harmon, L., Nasser, I., Smith, T., Borne, K., Parsons, S., Woodville,L., Constantine, L., Roman-Mendoza, E., Suh, J., Swanson, R., & Karczmarczyk, D. (2012). Reforming in the first person plural: Explorations of a faculty self-study collaborative. In J.R. Young, L.B., Erickson & S. Pinnegar (Eds.). Extending inquiry communities: Illuminating teacher education through self-study. Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices, East Sussex, England (pp. 251-255). Provo, UT: Brigham Young University.

Paden, R., Harmon, L. & Milling C. (2012). Ecology, Evolution and Aesthetics: Darwinian Arguments Against Positive Aesthetics. British Journal of Aesthetics. 1-17. doi:10.1093/aesthj/ays001.

Harmon, L.K. & Johnson, S. (2012). The future of outdoor recreation administration. In M. Erpelding & G. Harrison (Eds.). Outdoor Program Administration: Essentials for the Professional. Human Kinetics.

Harmon, L.K., Daniels, M. J., Brayley, R.E. & Park, M. (2011). Is a nation's front yard becoming a dumping ground? A critical analysis of greenspace within the United States National Mall & Memorial Parks. Special Issue of Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies, 17(2), 269-292.

Harmon, L.K. & Harrington, L. (2010). Building a Community Garden in Your Park: Opportunities for Health, Community and Recreation. Virginia: National Recreation and Park Association. Available at

Park, M., Daniels, M.J., Brayley, R. & Harmon, L.K. (2010). An analysis of service provision and visitor impacts using participant observation and photographic documentation: The National Cherry Blossom Festival. Event Management, 14, 167-182.

Harmon, L.K. & Gleason, M. (2009). Underwater explorers: Using underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to engage youth with underwater environments. Children, Youth and Environments. 19 (1), 125-143.

Daniels, M. J., Harmon, L.K., Park, M., & Brayley, R.E. (2009). National Mall & Memorial Parks: Past, present, future. In W. Frost & C. M. Hall (Eds.), Tourism and national parks: International perspectives on development, histories and change (pp.282-297). Oxford: Routledge.



Laurie Harmon, Recreation Management & Therapeutic Recreation, presented "Nature, Mental Health, and SLOs" at Retention through Wellness in Nature Summer Workshop on Aug. 10 online. This workshop focused on discussion of how college campuses are utilizing nature to improve students' mental health needs. Mechanisms for outcomes and practical applications were the focus.

Submitted on: Aug. 23, 2022



Courtney Warax, New Student & Family Programs; Lisa Klein, Community Engagement; Scott Brown, Facilities Planning & Management; Chelsea Wyman, Murphy Library; Justin Davis, Music; Willem Vanroosenbeek, Pride Center; Nathan Barnhart, Rec Sports; Laurie Harmon, Recreation Management & Therapeutic Recreation; Jenni Brundage and Andie Coxey, both Residence Life; Jamie Henk, Student Association student; Kyle Burke, Magann Dykema, Drea Higgins, Michael Slevin and Corey Stilwell, all University Centers; Kaylie Connaughty and Maren Walz, both University Marketing & Communications; and Gabrielle Smartt, Wellness, Health Advocacy; served on the Eagle Fest Planning Committee. The planning committee was responsible for Eagle Fest, a festival full of music, entertainment, food, and fun. It was an exciting opportunity for all students, faculty, staff, family members and local community neighbors to come together and celebrate the beginning of the fall semester!

Submitted on: Sept. 13, 2021