Public Symposia

As part of our role as an “honest broker,” the Institute of Island Studies hosts one or two public symposia a year as a way to bring all sides of an issue to the table to talk about items of public policy importance.



Measuring Quality of Life on Prince Edward Island
featuring Gwendolyn Colman, Dr. Jim Randall, and Wendy MacDonald

Thursday, November 22, 2018 | 7 p.m.
Don and Marion McDougall Hall, MacKinnon Auditorium, Room 242

The public was invited to the Harry Baglole Memorial Public Symposium in Island Studies, “Measuring Quality of Life on Prince Edward Island,” on Thursday, November 22, 7-9 p.m., at UPEI’s MacKinnon Auditorium, Room 242, McDougall Hall. This event was sponsored by UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies, in conjunction with UPEI Research Services.

The principal speaker wasGwen Colman, who, in 1997, along with her husband Ron, founded Genuine Progress Index (GPI) Atlantic, a pioneering research organization in creating new measures of wellbeing and progress. Gwen will be speaking about GPI’s work in collaborative development of wellbeing measures with communities in Bhutan, New Zealand, Thailand, and Nova Scotia.





The Island as a Carbon-Neutral Province? Making the Case
Thursday, October 26, 2017 | 7-9 p.m. | MacKinnon Auditorium, Room 242, McDougall Hall, UPEI Campus

With so much in the news these days about monster hurricanes and other  unusually severe weather events, people are becoming more and more concerned about the long-term impact of climate change. Living on a small, low land-mass as we do, Islanders feel immediately vulnerable to sea-level rise. And so we ask ourselves what can be done about it; and also, how can we, on our own island, provide a model of positive action for elsewhere.

One possibility would be for us to make a concerted attempt to set an example for others – in Canada and beyond – by becoming Canada’s first carbon-neutral province.

Keynote speaker Dr. Catherine Potvin of McGill University was joined by Mr. Bob Ashley, CAO of the City of Summerside, and Dr. Jim Randall, UNESCO Co-chair in Island Studies and Sustainability.




Rural Tourism in Iceland and PEI
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 | 7-9 p.m. | MacKinnon Lecture Theatre, Room 242, McDougall Hall, UPEI

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of tourists visiting Iceland, so that tourism density there now rivals that of Prince Edward Island. The nature of the tourism industry is broadly similar in both islands – generally seasonal, with a heavy stress on cultural and environmental resources.  Also, in both islands there has been a concerted effort by policy-makers to utilize tourism as a community-development tool for the more rural areas.  This has met with mixed success – and has raised a whole new set of issues. There is benefit for both islands in sharing experiences, insights, and possible solutions.

Tourism, Place and Identity: Rural Tourism in Iceland and Prince Edward Island” featured Ms. Guðrún Þóra Gunnarsdóttir of the Tourism Research Centre in Akureyri, Iceland. She was joined by a panel of authorities/practitioners in PEI Tourism, including Dr. Ed MacDonald of UPEI’s History Department, tourism operator Bill Kendrick of Experience PEI, and Ann Worth, Executive Director of Meetings and Conventions PEI. READ MORE…



Sustainable Agriculture and the Island’s Food System
Monday, November 14, 2016 | 7-9 p.m. p.m. | Duffy Science Centre Amphitheatre, Room 135, UPEI Campus

“To most people,” says Dr. Lapping, keynote speaker at a public symposium on Sustainable Agriculture and the Island’s Food System, “food is about growing and consuming food.  But a food system,” he continues, “is a large set of processes and it is critical to take a wider, systems perspective. Only then might we have a more robust understanding of the ways by which a sustainable agriculture can become part of a larger process of change toward a more nutritious and just life for individuals, families and communities.”

Keynote speaker was author and public policy specialist Dr. Mark Lapping, long associated with the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. He was joined by Prince Edward Island farmers Barry Cudmore and Mark Bernard, and Dr. Colleen Walton of UPEI’s Family and Nutritional Sciences.



The Geography of Local Governance
February 25, 2016 | 7 p.m. | MacKinnon Auditorium, Don and Marion McDougall Hall, UPEI Campus

The reform of local government on the Island has been much discussed in recent years, especially since the release of the 2009 Thompson Report of the Commission on Land and Local Governance. At that time, the Island had 75 incorporated municipalities – many of them with just a few hundred people – and 70% of the province’s territory had no local government at all. The situation remains much the same today.

Speakers included Diane Griffin, Dr. Ryan Gibson, Dr. Mike van den Huevel, and Ms. Jeannita Bernard.