Island Studies: A Global Classroom


Over the past several years, the study of islands has been growing in scope and stature. Indeed, the Master of Arts in Island Studies program at UPEI – the first of its kind in the world – has expanded beyond the popular thesis program to offer a course- and work-study-based program that explores Island Tourism, Sustainable Island Communities, and International Relations. Through coursework, research, and projects, students around the world have come to think of the world as “a world of islands,” and to not just think about islands, but to think with them.

As part of this global thinking and outreach, we have established linkages with other researchers and scholars from island universities throughout the world. We have a number of “institutional handshakes” in place, with MOAs and MOUs that involve faculty and student exchanges, extended research visits, and information-sharing – in person and via video conference.

One example of this is guest lecturing in each other’s classes, which then opens up into a general discussion. We’ve even done joint classes.

Introducing Dr. Laurie Brinklow, lecturer in the Master of Arts in Island Studies Program at University of Prince Edward Island; Guðrún Þóra Gunnarsdóttir, Director of the Icelandic Tourism Research Centre in Akureyri, Iceland; Dr. Andrew Jennings, programme leader and lecturer in the MLitt in Island Studies from the University of Highlands and Islands and who is based in the Shetland Islands; Dr. Gerard Prinsen, Senior Lecturer, School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand; and Dr. Jim Randall, Professor of Island Studies and Co-ordinator of the Master of Arts in Island Studies Program at UPEI, as well as co-holder of the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability. All have guess-lectured in each other’s classes, and, as our global networks expand, we anticipate that this sharing of knowledge around the globe will continue to expand, too.

Here are some of the topics we’ve covered:

Dr. Laurie Brinklow
Lecturer, MAIS program, UPEI
“Islandness: Culture, Change, and Identity”

  • shared characteristics of islandness
  • the “island effect”
  • boundedness/connectedness
  • intro to Prince Edward Island, Tasmania, Newfoundland

Guðrún Þóra Gunnarsdóttir
Director, Icelandic Tourism Research Centre
“Island tourism with a focus on Iceland”

  • the effects of exponential growth of tourism on Iceland and its inhabitants: are there limits?

Dr. Andrew Jennings
Programme leader and lecturer in the MLitt in Island Studies, University of Highlands and Islands, Shetland Islands
“Island particularity in the Shetland Islands”

  • intro to the Shetland Islands
  • Shetland “islandness”
  • Viking culture and tourism
  • island tourism

Dr. Gerard Prinsen
Senior Lecturer, School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University
“Islandness in the Pacific and an Emerging ‘Islandian’ Sovereignty”

  • An “Islandian” sovereignty for non-sovereign islands
  • Introduction to the Pacific as a “Sea of islands” (Hauʻofa)
  • Issues of identity on sovereign and non-sovereign islands

Dr. Jim Randall
Professor of Island Studies
MAIS Program 

University of Prince Edward Island

  • shifting perceptions of island sustainability
  • island governance
  • environmental governance on islands

For more information, please contact Laurie at