Leon Mach, Ph.D.


Associate Professor in Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values




Ph.D. in Energy and Environmental Policy
University of Delaware (Newark, Delaware, USA)

M.A. in International Affairs
American University (Washington, DC, USA)

M.A. in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development
University for Peace (Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica)

B.A. in Economics and Political Science
McDaniel College (Westminster, Maryland, USA)


SFS 3020 Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values
(The School for Field Studies)

SFS 4910 Directed Research
(The School for Field Studies)

SFS 3000 Tourism and Tropical Island Ecosystems
(The School for Field Studies)

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Faculty Profile

I am from Baltimore, Maryland and never really left the state before I studied abroad at the University of Wollongong in Australia as an undergraduate. This experience was incredibly formative. I met some of my best and closest friends (as well as distant relatives), found an intellectual curiosity for the intersection of international development and tourism development, and fell in love with surfing. I continue to examine surf tourism resources as comprised within a socio-ecological system and interrogate the effectiveness of user driven governance models attempting to ensure local benefits and minimal ecological harm. I have conducted research on surf tourism governance in Peru and Costa Rica and I am excited to continue this line of inquiry along with SFS students in the field using Bocas del Toro as a case study.

Since arriving at SFS, I have also completed and continue to conduct research projects on the difficulties associated with delivering sustainable Indigenous tourism in Bocas del Toro. The aim is to help communities implement best practices and enhance visitation as a part of a comprehensive empowerment and poverty reduction strategy. I have also led research examining protected area governance on the archipelago. The work has led to direct and practical recommendations to stakeholders as part of an effort to drive human and ecological well-being through participatory, equitable and effective protected area governance.

When not teaching with SFS, I run surf themed, short term study abroad programs with a company I started called SeaState. The goal of this platform is to use my field research as a teaching tool for undergraduate students – to give them the tools, as well as, inspire them to pursue research that aligns with their passions.

Academics & Research

Professional affiliations

Founding Member, International Association of Surf Academics (2016 - present)
Co-Founder, SeaState LLC (2015 - present)
Associate Director, Center for Surf Research (2014 - present)


Mach, L., Winner, C., Rojas, C., & Klemond, M. (2020). Protected area entry fees and governance quality. Tourism Management, 77.
Mach, L. & Vahradian, D. (2019). Tourists want to be spooked, not schooled: Sustaining Indigenous tourism in the Bastimentos Island National Marine Park. Journal of Ecotourism. (under second revision for special issue).
Mach, L. & Ponting, J. (2018). Governmentality and surf tourism destinations governance. Journal of Sustainable Tourism.
Mach, L., Ponting, J., Brown, J., & Savage, J. (2018). Riding waves of intra-seasonal demand in surf tourism: analysing the nexus of seasonality and 21st century surf forecasting technology. Annals of Leisure Research.
Scott, C., & Mach, L. (2018). The role of research and training institutions in tourism destination governance in Bocas del Toro. In D. Suman, & A. K. Spalding (Eds.), Coastal resources of Bocas del Toro, Panama: Tourism and development pressures and the quest for sustainability (pp. 105-132). Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami.
Mach, L. & Ponting, J. (2016). In Turner & Carcinelli (Eds.) Lifestyle Sports and Public Policy. Rutledge. (Accepted).
Mach, L. (2016). In Borne & Ponting (Eds.) Sustainability and Surfing. Rutledge. (Accepted).
Byrne, J., Mach, L., Taminiau, J., & Wang, Y. 2014. In J.Byrne, & YD. Wang, Secure and Green Energy Economies. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.
Mach, L. (2014). Dissertation, University of Delaware, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy.
Budishack, C., Sewell, D., Thomson, H., Mach, L., Veron, D., and Kempton, W. (2013). Journal of Power Sources. Volume 225, Pages 60-74. Available at: http://www.ceoe.udel.edu/windpower/resources/BudischakEtAl-AsPublished-Corrected.pdf
Mach, L. 2013. Peace and Conflict Monitor http://www.monitor.upeace.org/innerpg.cfm?id_article=967
Mach, L. 2009. MA Thesis Published Electronically by American University. Available at: http://www.american.edu/sis/gep/upload/Leon-Mach.pdf


“Are locals invited to the party? Assessing the impact of party tourism on local stakeholders in Bocas del Toro, Panama.” The Caribbean International Tourism Conference, University of the West Indies, Barbados, December 11-13, 2019.
“Surf tourism destination governance in Bocas del Toro, Panama: Understanding how actors in the surf tourism system shape destination development.” National Environment and Recreation Research Symposium, Annapolis, MD, April 7-9, 2019.
“Assessing the role of entry fees in protected area governance: A qualitative stakeholder analysis in Bocas del Toro, Panama.” National Environment and Recreation Research Symposium, Annapolis, MD, April 7-9, 2019.
“Defining communities and their differences: Sustaining Indigenous tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.” American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Washington DC, April 3-7, 2019.
“Surf tourism destination governance: Bridging critical and normative theory using a Foucauldian governmentality framework.” Critical Tourism Studies-Asia Pacific Conference, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, March 4-6, 2018 (abstract accepted).
Mach, L. Presented at San Diego State University Sustainable Stoke Conference. San Diego California September 20, 2015.
Mach, L. Presented in Thane India, Activists and Academicians Round table, January 16, 2013.
Mach L. Presented in Newark DE, University of Delaware Graduate Student Forum, May 12, 2012.