Several students paddle individual kayaks

UNE to offer new major in Outdoor Business and Innovation

Paid internships and experiential coursework will prepare students in this first-of-its-kind major in New England to quickly assume roles within Maine's outdoor industry

Outdoor recreation is big business in Maine, contributing nearly $3 billion to Maine’s economy and accounting for 4.9% of all jobs in the state.

As Maine's outdoor recreation sector surpasses the state's overall economy, the University of New England acknowledges the demand for proficient professionals in this thriving industry. Through introduction of a new, pioneering bachelor’s degree in outdoor business and innovation, UNE stands as the inaugural institution in New England to address the growing need for skilled workers in this field.

Offered through the recently established College of Business, UNE’s Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Business and Innovation degree program is designed to prepare students for dynamic careers in a sector that is pivotal to Maine’s economy through a strong focus on sustainable community development, environmental policy, entrepreneurship, and small business management.

Graduates of the program will also leave UNE with industry experience through paid internships and project-based learning provided in collaboration with Maine Outdoor Brands, an alliance of more than 150 of Maine’s outdoor product, service, and retail companies. These experiences will prepare UNE outdoor business and innovation graduates to quickly assume supporting and leadership roles within the industry, said Jenny Kordick, executive director of Maine Outdoor Brands.

Several students, wearing helmets, take a selfie over the side of a mountain
A female student navigates on a stand-up paddleboard
Students pose with bows and arrows in a field
A male student demonstrates how to use a flint to light a fire
Two students scale the side of a mountain using ropes

“We recognize the significance of a program that not only equips students with the knowledge and skills essential for success, but also nurtures connections within the outdoor business community,” Kordick said. “These graduates are poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of our industry as it evolves with cutting-edge, high-tech equipment, encompassing boats, RVs, bikes, and backpacks; a growing emphasis on sustainable clothing and gear designed to provide comfort across diverse climates; and adaptive strategies to cater to shifting market demand among the emerging cohort of outdoor enthusiasts.”

UNE has also partnered with the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation (OOR), which will serve an advisory role in curriculum development. Carolann Ouellette, OOR director, said UNE’s outdoor business and innovation degree program will grow Maine’s outdoor recreation economy as it supports the state’s 10-Year Economic Development Plan.

“UNE’s new outdoor business and innovation major is exciting news for Maine and for the many outdoor businesses in the state,” Ouellette said. “The outdoor industry offers diverse and rewarding jobs, and having a secondary education program focused on the industry will benefit Maine’s employers in this sector.”

We are thrilled to provide our students with the opportunity to engage with and contribute to an industry that is integral to Maine’s identity.” – John Austin, Ph.D., interim dean.

UNE’s College of Business, established in June, supports experiential learning opportunities in preparing students for enriching careers and leadership positions with some of Maine’s and the nation’s most important employers. Already, students in the college are working with major outdoor retailer Patagonia to plan a grassroots marketing event in New England later this academic year.

John Austin, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Business, said UNE’s location on Maine’s coast, its top-tier programs in the marine and environmental sciences, and growing expertise in sustainable innovation, positions the University to lead the expansion and advancement of Maine's outdoor economy.

“The launch of the outdoor business and innovation major represents a significant milestone as we continue to grow our programming within the College of Business and offer programming that meets the needs of our students, our market, and Maine’s workforce,” Austin remarked. “We are thrilled to provide our students with the opportunity to engage with and contribute to an industry that is integral to Maine’s identity and economy. This program aligns perfectly with our commitment to preparing students for meaningful, purpose-driven careers.”

Current students are eligible to declare a major in outdoor business and innovation, and the major will welcome its first new cohort of students in the fall 2024 semester. Students in the major will join their peers in academic programs including business administration, sports management, marine entrepreneurship, and sustainability and business.

About the University of New England

The University of New England is Maine’s largest private university, with two beautiful coastal campuses in Maine, a one-of-a-kind study abroad campus in Tangier, Morocco, and an array of flexible, accredited online degrees. In an uncommonly welcoming and supportive community, we offer hands-on learning, empowering students to make a positive impact in a world full of challenges. The state’s top provider of health professionals, we are home to Maine’s only medical collegeMaine’s only dental college, a variety of other interprofessionally aligned health care degree programs, as well as nationally recognized programs for marine science degreesnatural and social sciences degreesarts and humanities degrees, and business degrees.