Elena Bigart

Photo of Bigart, Elena

Elena Bigart

Social Scientist and Research Associate, ITRR; Instructor.

Office Hours:

Fall 2020: Wednesdays, 1-3 pm

Personal Summary

Since 2007, I have been working with nature protected areas around the world to increase their capacity in visitor management, environmental education, interpretation and cooperation with local communities and other stakeholders. I worked in tourism, nonprofit sector and academia and was involved in a number of projects focused on sustainable tourism, wilderness, recreation management and stakeholder collaboration, including those associated with transboundary conservation in Russia and the U.S. In particular, after graduating from the Moscow State University, Department of Geography, I developed and organized ecotourism and environmental education programs in different countries of the world. After that, for several years I was leading the only Training Center for protected area managers in Russia (a part of the Environmental Education Center), and developed and led more than 50 trainings, workshops and study tours for the managers of national parks and nature reserves that were aimed at increasing management effectiveness of natural areas.

In 2010, I received a Fulbright scholarship to study in the U.S., and chose University of Montana, where two years later I received M.Sc. in parks, tourism and recreation management. In 2013-2016, I served in the Steering Committee of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) as a Regional Vice-Chair, and as an Executive Committee member of the WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group, which gave me a remarkable opportunity to learn from environmental leaders around the world and participate in several exiting conservation, environmental education and visitor management projects. 

In 2015, I returned to Montana which I now call my home. My doctorate dissertation research was focused on defining, measuring and refining an identity of peace in the U.S. section of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. I used both qualitative and quantitative research methods, and was aimed at advancing the peace park concept and enhancing the value of the peace designation. In summer 2019, I defended my Ph.D. and am now teaching at the Departments of Society and Conservation and Geography.


Ph.D. Forestry and Conservation Sciences: 2019, University of Montana

M.S. Parks, Tourism and Recreation Management: 2012, University of Montana (Fulbright scholar)

B.S. Geography: 2001, Lomonosov Moscow State University

Courses Taught

PTRM-141: National Parks and American Culture

GPHY-121: Human Geography

PTRM-217: Parks and Outdoor Recreation Management

PTRM-310: Natural Resource Interpretation and Communication

PTRM-528: Tourism and Protected Areas: Striving for Sustainability

GBLD-499: GLI (Global Leadership Initiative) Capstone Development

PAMDEP (Protected Area Management Distance Education Program) Coordinator