Dr. John Confer


Department of Business, Economics and Enterprise Sciences


Dr. Confer's general area of interest includes parks and recreation, including history/philosophy of recreation and leisure, recreation evaluation and research, computer applications in recreation, parks and tourism, recreation programming and leadership, recreation administration and management, and trends in recreation and leisure.

Within this general area, he is most interested in natural resource recreation, outdoor and adventure recreation, park management, forest recreation, nature-based tourism, ecotourism, heritage tourism, commercial recreation, and other forms of alternative tourism such as heritage tourism, agri-tourism, edu-tourism, geo-tourism and sustainable tourism. He is especially interested in water-based recreation, coastal recreation/tourism development and management, recreation ecology, behavioral aspects of natural resource recreation, spatial aspects of leisure/recreation and tourism geographies, and geographic information systems in parks and recreation management.

Through his educational background and practical work in the areas above, he has gained experiences and skills that allow him to teach general courses for park, recreation, tourism and sport majors in statistics and evaluation procedures, research methods and program evaluation, using specialized statistical software (quantitative and qualitative) and GIS software.


  • Introduction to Recreation and Leisure
  • Recreation Site Design and Planning
  • Recreation Resource Management
  • Commercial Recreation Management
  • Recreation Management and Leadership
  • Recreation Program Planning and Evaluation
  • Introduction to CAD/GIS
  • Human Ecology
  • Historical Geography

Dr. Confer also supervises interns and advises undergraduate parks and recreation students.

Selected Funded Research

  • Confer, J., K. Fredrick, J.W. Hug, and S. Jasko (2009-2010). Cal U Eco Learning Community. Building Academic Excellence through Learning Communities Award, Funding Agency: California University of Pennsylvania, Faculty Professional Development Center. Total Funding: $5,000.
  • Confer, J., K. Fredrick, J.W. Hug, and S. Jasko (2008-2009). People, Nature and Media: Exploring Human Connections to the Outdoors and the Natural World Learning Community. Building Academic Excellence through Learning Communities Award, Funding Agency: California University of Pennsylvania, Faculty Professional Development Center. Total Funding: $5,000.
  • Floyd, M. (PI), J.O. Spengler (Co-PI), and J.J. Confer (Co-PI). (2004-2009). A study of physical environmental factors and their association with leisure-time physical activity in public parks in diverse communities. Funding Agency: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living Research Project. Total Funding: $225,000.

Selected Scholarly and Professional Publications

Selected Refereed, Peer-Reviewed - Published Journal Articles

  • Huang, C., and J.J. Confer. 2009. Applying the Tourism Opportunity Spectrum model in nature-based tourism management. Managing Leisure, 14, 4: 247-258.
  • Eadens, L., S.K. Jacobson, T.V Stein, J.J. Confer, L. Gape, and M. Sweeting. 2009. Stakeholder Mapping for Recreation Planning of a Bahamian National Park. Society & Natural Resources, 22, 2: 111-127.
  • Cheng, J., B. Thapa, and J.J. Confer. (2005). Relationships between demographic variables and environmental behaviors among coral reef recreationists in Green Island, Taiwan. Tourism in Marine Environments, 2, 1: 39-43.
  • Confer, J.J., B Thapa, and J.L. Mendelsohn. (2005). Exploring the multiple levels of recreation conflict in outdoor environments. World Leisure Journal, 47, 1: 12-23.

Book Chapters

  • Kerstetter, D., J. Confer, and K. Bricker. 2007. Industrial heritage attractions: types and tourists. In D. Timothy (Ed.) The International Library of Essays in Tourism, Heritage and Culture (Vols. 1-3), Volume 2: The Heritage Tourist Experience (pp. 179-192). Aldershot, Hampshire, UK: Ashgate Publishing.
  • Confer, J.J. (2004) State Parks. In Gary Cross (ed.) Encyclopedia of Recreation and Leisure in America, Vol. 1. Farmington Hills, MI: Charles Scribner's Sons. (pp. 312-315).

Service Learning Projects

Through Cal U Eco, a learning community, Dr. Confer has worked with Drs. Hug, Fredrick and Jasko to plan and run many outdoor recreation activities, including canoe, whitewater rafting, bicycling, hiking and climbing trips for students, faculty and staff to become more active in their leisure time.

The Pike Run Youth Fishing Festival is the largest community youth recreation event for the Borough of California and the surrounding region. The festival attracts about 150-200 youths up to age 16 and their families for a daylong free fishing derby in Pike Run at Rotary Park. The event includes lots of fun and educational activities and is held every year the week after trout season begins.

The students in the class, along with help and financial support from the Cal U Parks and Recreation Society, plan the event and raise money through various fundraisers and sponsorships to purchase the trout, trophies and prizes, as well as cover the costs for the other activities. They also complete a river cleanup the week before the event, stock 1,000 to 2,000 trout the day before the event and stay by the stream overnight to make sure the trout aren't fished out before the event begins.  

In addition to planning and running the Pike Run event, Dr. Confer's students plan and run a conference - Healthy People, Healthy Communities - Naturally! - with the Cal U Eco Learning Community. They also assisted with planning the District 1 winter meeting for the Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks Society in 2009.

In The Classroom

"I challenge students and work with them to help them solve problems or find answers. I feel lessons learned in this way are retained longer. Even if the precise fact or specific skill is forgotten, the process by which they learned that fact/skill is usually retained and can be repeated. In all of the classes I teach, I attempt to use examples or case studies to emphasize points and make them more applicable to the students. These include ‘real world' examples and related situations often drawn from personal experiences or from my research program, where an academic concept or particular skill might be applied.

I feel learning is an exciting and rewarding experience. I am continually learning and hope I always will. As a teacher, I am always actively involved in scholarship and in the pursuit of my own learning. I attempt to inspire in my students this desire to learn, and take satisfaction and enjoyment from their successes. I also take pleasure in the rewards of teaching - that look in the eyes of a student when the ‘light goes on' and they come to understand a complex concept or master a difficult task. As a teacher, I always try to be enthusiastic, supportive and creative. I am never satisfied with my lectures and strive each time to make them better by evaluating myself after each class. I have always wanted to be a teacher and when I think about the people I admire, most of them are teachers.

I am committed to incorporating instructional technologies in all of the courses that I teach. I feel integrating technology in the classroom is critical in preparing students for the more technologically oriented and information-based society of today and tomorrow. However, technology for technology's sake is not the goal; it is merely one of many tools employed in the successful transfer of information and creation of knowledge."

  • B.S.: Recreation and Leisure Services Management, East Stroudsburg University; major: Recreation and Leisure Services Management; dual major: Environmental Studies
  • M.S.: Natural Resources Management and Engineering, University of Connecticut; major: Natural Resources Management and Engineering
  • Ph.D.: Program in Recreation and Park Management/Leisure Studies, Penn State University; minors: Geography – Geographic Information Systems, Environmental Resource Management

Email: confer@calu.edu

Phone: 724-938-4211

Office: Eberly Hall Room 240