Senior Lecturer in Experience Design (Tourism)

Donna is Senior Lecturer in Experience Design (Tourism) at Cornwall Business School and joined in August 2020. Donna is a tourism academic and received her doctoral degree in 2017 from the University of Exeter which focused on the function and impact of innovation alongside key issues associated with the management and operation of dark tourism visitor sites and attractions. Her doctoral work highlighted that researching ‘sensitive issues’ and ‘emotion work’ can present numerous opportunities and challenges for the researcher and wider team. She worked at the University of Exeter Business School since 2009 as a lecturer in management and has also held a previous lecturing post at the University of Plymouth. 

Donna has an industry background in travel and tourism and research consultancy in both public and private sectors with a specific focus on tourism industry-related projects and is an advocate of ethical business practices. She is also active outside of academia working on a number of well-being and mental health initiatives within local communities. The importance of well-being in the academy is a key area of Donna’s most recent work. Her most recent project explores the emotional components within the research process across multi-disciplinary research areas highlighted in her recent event in conjunction with Manchester Metropolitan University entitled ‘Encountering Emotions in Academia’. Donna is also a keen methodologist and has taught research methods and methodology for a number of years with a particular interest in innovative research methods when working with ‘sensitive issues’. She is also the co-founder of ‘The Academic Woman’ – a platform dedicated to the personal and professional development of women in academia which has run a series of inspirational talks and events within higher education institutions and external events. 

External Links

Contact details



Year Qualification Awarding body
2017 PhD University of Exeter
2006 LTHE University of Plymouth
2006 MSc University of Plymouth
2001 BSc University of Plymouth

Membership of external committees

Board Member of Recovery Devon

Research Interests

Research interests and expertise

Donna's expertise crosses a number of disciplines and as a tourism academic has a keen interest in the ethics of dark tourism and digital innovations in the tourism industry. She has shared her doctoral research at national and international conferences on the subject of dark tourism. 

As an advocate for sustainable organisational practices, she has a keen interest in wellbeing in differing context such as within the tourism industry, local communities and academia. Donna's most recent research including evaluation of community-based mental health initiatives such as 'Horsemanship for Health' - using equine-assisted education to facilitate wellbeing and 'Surfwell' - using surfing to aid recovery for police personnel suffering from mental health challenges and 'Happy to Share' - an initiative aimed at minimising loneliness and social isolation in communities. 

Research Topics

  • dark tourism
  • digital innovation
  • Organisational wellbeing
  • Research Methodology
  • Socio-cultural Impacts of Tourism
  • tourism and crime
  • visitor interpretation

Research Outputs

Publications and research outputs

Externally funded research grants information

Collaborators Currency Funder HESA Category Project title Value Year ending Year starting
ESRC Surfwell 2020 2019
Recovery Devon H4H 2019 2019
ESRC Happy to Share 2021 2020



Doing Sensitive research. Keynote Speaker, University of York, York. November 2018.



Encountering Emotions in Academia. Manchester Metropolitan University, Event, Manchester. June 2018.



Dark Tourism as a Business – New Frontiers. ATLAS Conference, Amsterdam. February 2018.



Dark Tourism. Death Heritage Conference, Stockholm. September 2016.



Online Methodologies. Oxford University Conference July 2006


Areas of teaching

  • Professional Practice
  • Research Methods
  • Tourism

Courses taught

  • BA(Hons) Sustainable Tourism Management