UT Geography Undergraduate Erik Schmidt (pictured left) traveled to New Orleans in October 2012 to conduct research at four plantation museum sites along the famous River Road District. Erik worked with an interdisciplinary team of fifteen students and faculty members from University of Southern Mississippi, LSU, Texas Tech, and East Carolina University. The team surveyed and interviewed over 700 visitors, collecting data on tourists’ demographic characteristics, geographic origin, travel motivations, and opinions about the representation of slavery on plantation tours.
Erik presented the results of his work as a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers in Asheville, NC in November. The New Orleans project was conducted under the auspices of the RESET (Race, Ethnicity, and Social Equity in Tourism) Initiative and ongoing efforts to improve on-site interpretation of African American heritage at southern plantations. Dr. Derek Alderman, the co-coordinator of RESET, directed and partially funded Erik’s research experience as part of the Department of Geography’s commitment to facilitating undergraduate research experiences.