June 8, 1999
Contact: Mary Bridget Reilly


Cincinnati -- This summer won't bring any earth-shattering research for a University of Cincinnati team soon heading for Crete. And that's just the way they want it.

Instead, a team of 12 from a variety of disciplines -- planning, sociology, political science, English, marketing, geography, architecture and biology -- are preparing for earth-shaping efforts.

They're heading for the tourist hot-spot of Hersonisos June 23-July 26 at the invitation of local officials because this picturesque fishing village, dramatic in its setting of sea, mountains and ancient Minoan archaeological sites, is mushrooming. "We're looking at what went right and what went wrong with tourism's growth in the last 20 years," said Michael Romanos, professor of planning. "Farmland is being lost to speculation, a highway now straddles the town. There are problems with crime, pollution, traffic and infrastructure."

For instance, the city has no sewers. During tourist season, residents often have no potable water service to their homes as the hotels reserve most available fresh water for use by guests.

By focusing on Hersonisos as a sustainable development case-study, the UC team hopes to aid the local community as well as similar communities in Crete and to take away lessons that can be applied globally, including U.S. cities.

Sustaining economic development via tourism without straining the environment is one of the most important challenges that Greece faces, according to Romanos for whom this "field project abroad" serves as a homecoming. He is a native of Crete, and began his career there when the country began implementing national economic development plans funded on a massive scale by the European Community 25 years ago.

"Greece has close to 10 million residents. An almost equal number of tourists visit annually. We're going to look at what this has meant to the quality of life in cities and the countryside. Has there simply been unchecked growth or has it brought development that benefits whole communities?" asked Romanos.

Within Hersonisos, the UC team will examine land use and environmental hazards, citizen participation in development, social problems, education and the business environment. For instance, Raj Mehta, associate professor of marketing, will focus on what he calls "green" marketing. "It's important to look at how to get business to make more goods that are non-polluting. We recycle a lot of goods that other countries don't...plastics, cans and paper. Companies need to find ways to get this 'refuse' back into the economic cycle," he explained.

The data collected and any recommendations by UC faculty will be part of presentations to local officials and will constitute a book on sustainable development. Working with the UC team will be faculty from the University of Crete and from the University of the Aegean.

In addition to Romanos and Mehta, other UC faculty participating in the Crete summer research are: Chris Auffrey, assistant professor of planning; Roger Barry, professor of planning; Marcia Bellas, assistant professor of sociology; Laura Jenkins, assistant professor of political science; Maria Curro Kreppel, professor of English; Byron Miller, assistant professor of geography; Virginia Russell, assistant professor of architecture; Howard Stafford, professor of geography; Tom Wagner, professor of planning; and Frank Wray, assistant professor of biology.

Funding for the Crete research project is provided by a UC Faculty Development Council grant.

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