[Press Release] IIS goes to COP26

On November 11, 2021, Island Studies went to COP – virtually! 

We were part of a hybrid event entitled Climate Change and Islands, hosted by the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance in Glasgow, along with the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI and Island Innovation.  

The event, which served as the culmination of the Island Insights Series, asked the question:  What lessons can we learn from the responses to COVID-19 when positioning islands to become more sustainable? 

Islands in countries like Scotland have the potential of showing the way forward in promoting innovation when it comes to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The event featured presentations on Scotland and climate change, renewable energy on Scotland’s islands, the effects of and legal responses to climate change on islands, and climate change from the point of view of youth and climate justice. Dr. Jim Randall, Professor Emeritus at UPEI, brought opening remarks on behalf of Island Studies at UPEI, and Dr. Laurie Brinklow, Interim Chair of the IIS, served as a discussant.

Says Dr Brinklow, “Having Island Studies and UPEI be part of the global conversation at COP26 was an opportunity not to be missed. I am proud of the work our colleagues and students have done on the COVID-19 Island Insights Series and the research we continue to do on climate change and islands. Islands are at the forefront of climate change and sea-level rise  – and, like it or not, Prince Edward Island is one of those islands. If we don’t want to be become three or four Prince Edward Islands, then we must continue to get our research out there and continue to ensure that our are heard.” 

The session recording can be found here (with the passcode kYS#ck0F).

Media contact:
Dave Atkinson
Communications Officer
Marketing and Communications, University of Prince Edward Island
datkinson@upei.ca | (902) 620-5117


[Press Release] Island Studies leader Dr. Jim Randall retires

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (July 6, 2021) —

After nine years as Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Island Studies (MAIS) program and Chair of the Institute of Island Studies (IIS) Executive Committee, Jim Randall is retiring. 

Professor Emeritus Jim Randall

Trained as an economic and urban geographer, this native of Ontario moved with his family from the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George to Prince Edward Island in 2010 to take up the post of VP Academic at UPEI. In 2012 he became Coordinator of the MAIS program, teaching in the MAIS and Island Studies Minor programs and undertaking  a supervisory role for several Master’s students. When Jim arrived, the MAIS program had 28 thesis students and 21 graduates. Since 2018 when he introduced the work/study program, enrolment has more than doubled and MAIS alumni now total 50. More than half of incoming MAIS students are now international students. Students and staff agree that the current success of the program is due to Jim’s vision, persistence, and hard work.

As Chair of the IIS Executive Committee, Jim built on the Institute’s reputation as an “honest broker” that is recognized for doing research that contributes to evidence-based policymaking. This led to a collaboration with the Community Foundation of Prince Edward Island to research and produce the 2019 Vital Signs report that went into households across the Island, as well as various research contracts with the Government of PEI. The most recent, to undertake a four-year “Indicators of Well-being” study with the Government of PEI, is now under way with a province-wide survey set to launch in the fall.

Jim was named UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability co-chair (with Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino from the University of Malta) from 2016 to 2020 and became sole Chair in 2020. Throughout that time, he has demonstrated true leadership, securing several research contracts with funding from the Government of PEI, ACOA, the Foreign Affairs Office of Hainan Province, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CC UNESCO), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC), among others. His most recent project is curating a series of 24 COVID-19 Island Insights papers from islands around the globe in collaboration with the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance and Island Innovation. The papers form the basis of a policy initiative that will be presented at COP-26 in Glasgow in November.

The author of dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, Jim is Executive Editor of and contributor to the Annual Report on Global Islands 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, published in affiliation with the Foreign Affairs Office of Hainan Province. His groundbreaking textbook, An Introduction to Island Studies, was published in 2021 with Island Studies Press and Rowman & Littlefield.

Jim was presented with the Faculty Association’s Merit Award for Outstanding Service in 2019, and UPEI’s Katherine Schultz Research Recognition Award in 2018. Upon his retirement, the University bestowed upon him with the well-earned designation of Professor Emeritus. As Dr. Ed MacDonald (History, UPEI) wrote in his nomination letter, “As someone who has been involved with the Institute of Island Studies since 1986 and with the MAIS program since its inception two decades ago, I think I can speak with some authority when I praise the tremendous contributions that he has made to those two, closely related enterprises. He has devoted his considerable energy and abilities to both, and both have prospered under his leadership.”

A builder and visionary, Jim Randall has left a legacy that will stand Island Studies @ UPEI in good stead for years to come. But we know Jim won’t be a stranger: fortunately, he and his wife Brenda have decided to continue to call PEI home. And he’s already agreed to lend his expertise to ongoing projects, and will continue to be part of the Island Studies family.

Congratulations, Jim, on a well-earned retirement!

Media contact:
Dave Atkinson
Communications Officer
Marketing and Communications, University of Prince Edward Island
datkinson@upei.ca | (902) 620-5117


[Press Release] Future Prosperity Scholarships awarded to UPEI Island Studies students

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (May 4, 2021) —

The Master of Arts in Island Studies (MAIS) program at the University of Prince Edward Island is pleased to announce the recipients of the Future Prosperity Scholarships. The winners for 2020 are Greg Ellison, Eliza MacLauchlan, and Alyssa Gillespie. They join Joyce Ferguson and Sarah Davison who received the awards in 2019.

The Future Prosperity Scholarships are generously funded by Dr. Regis and Mrs. Joan Duffy and the Province of Prince Edward Island’s Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture. The awards were created two years ago to support students whose thesis research focuses on a topic related to the future prosperity of Prince Edward Island, ranging from entrepreneurship and tourism to renewable energy and migration.

“Congratulations to all the recipients of the Future Prosperity Scholarships,” said Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture Matthew MacKay. “Thank you for your dedication and extensive research in exploring how we can make Prince Edward Island a better place for generations to come.”

“These are exceptional researchers and scholars helping us better understand the unique challenges and opportunities of life on islands,” said Dr. Katherine Gottschall-Pass, interim vice-president academic and research at UPEI. “The Future Prosperity Scholarships are crucial to ensuring these students are able explore this knowledge, which will have far-reaching impacts on Island life and policy.”

More about the winners

Greg Ellison is interested in climate change and reducing carbon emissions in both island and non-island societies. His research will focus on the factors, particularly “islandness,” that can facilitate energy democracy and enable smoother transitions towards renewable energy systems. Through examining island societies in the North Atlantic region, Ellison is hoping to uncover factors that can lead to increased social acceptance of renewable energy expansion, with the goal of bringing these lessons back to Prince Edward Island.

Alyssa Gillespie is undertaking research on the issue of youth retention and migration in rural Prince Edward Island communities, focusing on systemic issues and the individual experiences of those who make the decision to leave. By examining factors that keep youth in their island communities and what communities and youth identify as the “pull factors” to attract new people, Gillespie hopes to provide meaningful opportunities for youth to stay within their communities and to attract new people.

Eliza MacLauchlan is looking at the experience of tenants on small islands, such as the process of gentrification and displacement, and the impact this has on tenants. Through a comparative study with islands that are similar to Prince Edward Island, she will aim to understand the experience of tenants and look at the larger implications for housing policy on Prince Edward Island and other small islands.

Sarah Davison is a rural Island resident and an entrepreneur who is interested in the stories and visual representations of entrepreneurs who work in PEI’s tourism industry, specifically within arts and culture. Her research explores how photographic images represent off-season tourism and how these might influence our local understandings of self and place. The study is relevant to the ongoing discussions of social entrepreneurship, seasonality, and concepts of “islandness” on PEI and other small islands.

Joyce Ferguson’s research interests revolve around the relationship between energy policy and community in an island setting. Ferguson has chosen to focus her thesis on the wind farm expansion controversy in eastern Kings County. Her work will highlight community acceptance/resistance to large-scale renewable energy initiatives.

Successful applicants for these awards receive up to $25,000 over two years.

There are currently 47 students registered in the Master of Arts in Island Studies program: 27 in the thesis stream and 20 in the three course/work-study streams (Island Tourism, Sustainable Island Communities, and International Relations and Island Public Policy). While many of the students come from Prince Edward Island, others are from Halifax, Ontario, the USA, England, the Bahamas, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Sweden, Vietnam, Nigeria, Ghana, Turkey, and China.

For more information on the Master of Arts Island Studies program, or to apply for the next round of Future Prosperity Scholarships, contact Dr. Laurie Brinklow at brinklow@upei.ca.

Media contact:
Dave Atkinson
Communications Officer
Marketing and Communications, University of Prince Edward Island
datkinson@upei.ca | (902) 620-5117


[Press Release] New island-specific policy recommendations for ‘building back better’

For Immediate Release
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (April 26, 2021) —

A new report outlines challenges and creative solutions for islands to “build back better” as they recover from COVID-19. The Annual Report on Global Islands 2020 is published by Island Studies Press.

While the ongoing global pandemic may have spared many islands the negative health impacts of COVID-19 thus far, it has undoubtedly served as a wake-up call for islands, such as Prince Edward Island, that rely heavily on tourism.

“It is crucial that islands and their communities recover from COVID-19 not by going back to a business-as-usual scenario but by building back better,” writes Dr. Francesco Sindico, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance, University of Strathclyde, Scotland, in the report. He has identified tourism and food security as two of many areas that need to be included in such a process.

“If resilience is about driving an agenda for a better island following a state of vulnerability, the question becomes: what kind of future does that island want?”

Based on analysis of a comprehensive data set contributed by islanders around the world, Dr. Sindico discusses the importance of shifting towards sustainable tourism and diversified island economies. He suggests that the ongoing pandemic provides islands with an opportunity to take stock, recognize policies that may have contributed to vulnerability, and begin a process to become more resilient and sustainable in the face of present and future crises.

According to Dr. Sindico, the first step in making islands more resilient is to recognize that governance and government is at the heart of many of the current vulnerabilities. He proposes a policy-relevant research agenda to ensure that post-COVID-19 recovery packages enable islands to “build back better” and move towards a more resilient and sustainable future.

Dr. Sindico is continuing to collaborate with UPEI and its Institute of Island Studies through the COVID-19 Island Insights Series, where 24 islands from all over the world are being analyzed not just in relation to how they coped with the pandemic, but also, along the lines of his chapter, on how they can build back better. The final goal of the project is to develop policy recommendations aimed at promoting greater island resilience and sustainability in a post COVID-19 world.

The Annual Report on Global Islands series is published by Island Studies Press at UPEI and edited by Dr. Jim Randall, UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability at UPEI. It is produced in partnership with the Foreign Affairs Office of Hainan Province, P.R. China, a sister province to PEI. Released annually since 2017, the series features peer-reviewed chapters by international experts on major topics associated with the economic development of islands.

For more information and to read this and past editions in the Annual Report on Global Islands series, visit https://projects.upei.ca/unescochair/publications/annual-report-on-global-islands.

Media contact:
Dave Atkinson
Communications Officer
Marketing and Communications, University of Prince Edward Island
datkinson@upei.ca | (902) 620-5117


[Press Release] COVID-19 Island Insights for Prince Edward Island now available

For Immediate Release
Charlottetown, PEI (April 6, 2021) —

COVID-19 Island Insights for Prince Edward Island now available

The COVID-19 Island Insights Series entry for Prince Edward Island is now available online. The series aims to bring together critical assessments of how specific islands around the world have performed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the extent to which their recovery plans are able to promote long term resilience and sustainability.

Prince Edward Island is one of twenty-five islands around the world participating in this project. Like many islands, PEI has been able to reduce the spread of the virus better than many mainland states and jurisdictions. The international group of researchers behind the project hope it can be a tool for policy makers and island stakeholders. 

The Institute of Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island is a partner in this collaboration, which recently released papers focusing on COVID-19 responses in PEINewfoundland and Labrador, and Iceland. The COVID-19 Island Insights Series provides understanding grounded in local knowledge and has been released in sets of two or three periodically since November 2020, with a total of seventeen Island Insights now available online.

“While the entire series will not be complete and published until May, we can already see patterns emerging that we believe could help inform island policy makers here and elsewhere,” said Dr. Jim Randall, the project lead at UPEI. “When islands have the autonomy to craft their own responses, when they have the capacity to limit access, and when their residents are conscientious, they have been more successful in preventing the spread of the virus.” 

In May 2021, the Island Insights project team will be hosting online workshops where policy makers and researchers will come together to identify key lessons. The findings will be shared at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), taking place November 1–12 in Glasgow, Scotland. 

The COVID-19 Island Insights Series is an initiative led by the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI and Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law & Governance (SCELG) at Glasgow’s University of Strathclyde, in collaboration with Island Innovation, a social enterprise which seeks to drive sustainable change across islands and rural areas around the world. 

To read the Prince Edward Island COVID-19 Island Insights paper, and the others in the series, visit islandstudies.com/island-insights-series.


Media contact:
Dave Atkinson, UPEI
(902) 620-5117, datkinson@upei.ca


[Press Release] What Newfoundland and Labrador can learn from Iceland’s financial crisis


For Immediate Release


Charlottetown, PEI (March 15, 2021) —
What Newfoundland and Labrador can learn from Iceland’s financial crisis

UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies hosting free virtual event Tuesday, March 30th, 2021 featuring researchers from Newfoundland & Labrador and Iceland. More here

A Stella’s Circle building in St. John’s, shown
in the spring of 2020, carries a message of hope.
Source: The Canadian Press.


As cold-water islands with a shared history, Newfoundland and Labrador and Iceland are often compared. This time researchers are looking at what one island can learn from the other about getting through a financial crisis. They will be sharing their findings at a free, online, public event on Tuesday, March 30th at 1:00 pm ADT, hosted by the Institute of Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI).

While the financial catastrophe in Newfoundland and Labrador and the 2008 banking crisis in Iceland both seemed to happen suddenly, this study shows they both had deep roots. “Neither government heeded warnings before their crisis and both had poor communications throughout their crisis,” explains one of the researchers, Mark Stoddart of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. “In Iceland however, public outrage created a turning point that we haven’t yet seen in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

This research undertaken by Professor Stoddart and Dr. Ásthildur Elva Bernharðsdóttir, an independent research scholar at ReykjavíkAkademían in Iceland, is a part of the Sustainable Island Futures project being coordinated by Dr. Jim Randall, the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability at UPEI. The project aims to develop a better understanding of the sustainable development practices and potential of small islands and is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

For more information and to register for the event, visit islandstudies.com/islandlectureseries-march2021.

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Media contact:
Dave Atkinson, UPEI
(902) 620-5117, datkinson@upei.ca

Event contact:
Maggie Henry, Institute of Island Studies, UPEI
mjhenry@upei.ca


[Press Release] Getting the word out: How knowledge gets shared on islands

For Immediate Release

Charlottetown, PEI (January 18, 2021) —
Getting the word out: How knowledge gets shared on islands

New research from UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies and UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability highlights knowledge mobilization in island contexts
. More here.

You might think a conversation at your local coffee shop or at the hockey rink is just something you do in passing, but recent research done by the Institute of Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) says there is more to it than that.  

In January 2020, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) asked Canada’s network of 27 UNESCO Chairs to contribute papers on Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): how research gets into the hands of people who can use it. UPEI’s UNESCO Chair looked at how knowledge is mobilized on islands across Canada. Knowledge on islands was one of six submissions selected for CCUNESCO’s final report Imagining the future of Knowledge Mobilization: Perspectives from UNESCO Chairs

Too often, informal and local knowledge on islands is thought of as being less important than the formal knowledge that we get from government, researchers, or other organizations. It turns out that what really creates resilience on islands is informal knowledge that we share in our day-to-day lives when we get together.  The research also shows that if this knowledge is not valued and included in planning and decision-making by those in positions of power, they risk making communities more vulnerable. 

Dr. Jim Randall

In the words of Dr. Jim Randall, UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability at UPEI, “I think most islanders know the value of what they might learn at the local coffee shop, but it doesn’t necessarily register for decision-making bodies, especially those not on the island, such as a federal government department. This knowledge-sharing is not just important in the day-to-day lives of people, but also in how they address more significant challenges such as climate change or a pandemic.”

Randall was joined by the Institute of Island Studies’s Dr. Laurie Brinklow and UPEI Master of Arts in Island Studies student Marlene Chapman to complete the project. Their research included focus groups in Atlantic Canada, the Great Lakes, and British Columbia’s west coast. They wanted to find out if knowledge-sharing is different on islands, and they found that, yes, it is. Their chapter in the report details these differences, and makes recommendations on how islands might make use of this information to make their communities more sustainable in the future.

For more information and to access English and French versions of the report, go to projects.upei.ca/unescochair/knowledge-mobilization-2021.

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Media contact:
Dave Atkinson, UPEI
(902) 620-5117, datkinson@upei.ca

Project contact:
Dr. Laurie Brinklow, Institute of Island Studies, UPEI
brinklow@upei.ca


Institute of Island Studies | UNESCO Chair in Island Studies & Sustainability
Island Studies Press | Master of Arts in Island Studies

© 2021 Institute of Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island. All rights reserved.

[Press Release] Island Lecture Series January Lecture: “Music-making and the experience of community life on an Irish island” with Rory McCabe

For Immediate Release

Island Lecture Series January Lecture: “Music-making and the experience of community life on an Irish island” with Rory McCabe

Dr. Rory McCabe
with Clare Island in the background

Charlottetown, PEI (January 6, 2021)—
The Island Lecture Series January session will feature Irish researcher Rory McCabe (Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway) joining us live from Clare Island, Ireland, to discuss the role and importance of music-making in island community life and vitality. Following his presentation, Rory will be joined in conversation by Dr. Laurie Brinklow (Institute of Island Studies, UPEI), with an opportunity for questions from the audience. This session will be held virtually via Zoom on January 19, 2021, at 1 p.m. AST.

This lecture presents an ethnographic account of music and social life on Clare Island (pop. 159), a small community off the west coast of Ireland. The details of music-making on Clare Island in the twenty-first century suggest that, against a changing social, economic, and technological environment, the universal themes of social bonding persist as core values in the island experience. Through this presentation, Rory McCabe will describe how music-making is a fundamental process in island community life and an important measure of island health or vitality.
Rory McCabe recently completed his PhD at the Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway. His doctoral research examined music-making and islandness within his home community of Clare Island. In March 2020, Rory was an Ireland Canada University Foundation visiting scholar at the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI.

This virtual event is free and everyone is welcome to attend. The event will be hosted on Zoom, and advance registration is required – please visit bit.ly/islandlectureseries to reserve your spot.
For more information about the Island Lecture Series, please visit islandstudies.com/islandlectureseries or contact Maggie Henry (Interim Coordinator, Institute of Island Studies) at mjhenry@upei.ca.

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Media contact:
Dave Atkinson, UPEI
(902) 620-5117, datkinson@upei.ca

Event contact:
Maggie Henry, Institute of Island Studies, UPEI
mjhenry@upei.ca


Institute of Island Studies | UNESCO Chair in Island Studies & Sustainability
Island Studies Press | Master of Arts in Island Studies

© 2021 Institute of Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island. All rights reserved.