[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] 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

[New Publication] Islands Economic Global Forum ‘Annual Report on Global Islands’ 2020

April 19, 2021—
The latest instalment of the Annual Report on Global Islands Series was released today and is now available online. This series is published by Island Studies Press in partnership with the Foreign Affairs Office of Hainan Province.

The themes of this year’s Report are:
  • Public health on small islands
  • The vulnerabilities and resilience associated with the public health systems
  • The links to the rest of the world that both aggravate challenges and offer creative solutions.

Preface by Wang Sheng, Introduction and Conclusion by James Randall, and chapters by: James Randall & Marlene Chapman, Francesco Sindico, Robert Huish, Ilan Kelman, John N. Telesford, Huang Danying & Wang Sheng, Mathew Y.H. Wong, and Lin Heshan & Deng Yuncheng.


Island Lecture Series – March Event

March 16, 2021 —

Learning from Financial Crisis: Towards Sustainable Island Futures for Iceland and Newfoundland and Labrador
Professor Mark Stoddart and Dr. Ásthildur Elva Bernharðsdóttir
Tuesday, March 30, 2021 · 1:00pm – 2:00pm ADT
Press release | More details and registration

[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.


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

Project contact:
Dr. Laurie Brinklow, Institute of Island Studies, UPEI

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.

NEWS: UPEI co-hosts international conference with the University of Aruba

UPEI’s UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability and the University of Aruba co-host the 1st International Island States/Island Territories Conference:
Sharing Stories of Island Life, Governance and Global Engagement

April 2, 2019 —

The 1st International Conference on Small Island States and Subnational Island Jurisdictions was hosted March 26-29, 2019 by the University of Aruba, in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (COE) and the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability, which is shared between the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) in Canada and the University of Malta.

The theme of the conference was “Island States/Island Territories: Sharing Stories of Island Life, Governance and Global Engagement.” The conference appealed to scholars, policy-makers, NGO representatives, students and members of the general public who networked and shared knowledge on Sustainable Development on islands. In total, the conference had approximately 100 participants. Several geographic regions were represented, including the Caribbean, Pacific and Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea (AIMS), Australasia, and the North Atlantic.

There were 18 local conference presenters, with a multi-disciplinary participation, which included local lecturers from three University of Aruba faculties: the Faculty for Accounting, Finance and Marketing of the University of Aruba (FEF), the Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS), and the Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism Management Studies (FHTMS).

The conference also awarded 6 international Student Travel Scholarships and 20 local University of Aruba students joined the sessions as part of their curriculum. Scholarship winners included Owen Jennings, a graduate of the UPEI MAIS program and now a PhD student at the University of Hawai’i; and Patrick Lévêque, a current student in the UPEI MAIS program.

The international participants enjoyed an “Aruban Welcome” with a conference dinner at the Old Cunucu House and a field trip to Aruba’s San Nicolas district, where they also visited the Industrial Museum to get to know about Aruba’s island history.

Scholarship award-winners with Conference chair Jim Randall: (l-r) Joris Sylvie, Université des Antilles; Zhannah Voukitchevitch, University of Ottawa; Kristin De Kroon, University of Waterloo; Azell Francis, Georgia Institute of Technology; Owen Jennings, University of Hawai’i; and Patrick Lévêque, University of Prince Edward Island.

Additionally, the hosts were very proud to have had two female Heads of Government as keynote speakers addressing integrity in governance and the resilience of islands; both the Honourable Evelyna C. Wever-Croes, Prime Minister of Aruba & Minister of General Affairs, Integrity, Energy, Innovation, & Government Organization, as well as the Honourable Leona Romeo-Marlin, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten & Minister of General Affairs, graced us with their insights.

Screen capture from Aruba Today

The community enjoyed a free public lecture by Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino organized alongside the conference on the evening of March 28, whereby the University was honoured to receive the attendance of the Governor of Aruba.

The conference’s international planning committee is chaired by UNESCO co-chair, Dr. Jim Randall of the University of Prince Edward Island. Local co-hosts included Deborah Alexander from the Centre for Lifelong Learning at University of Aruba, Glenn Thodé, Rector of the University of Aruba, Patrick Arens, Business Director of the University of Aruba, and Arno Boersma and Francielle Laclé from the COE. The planning committee comprises scholars from several academic institutions including the University of the West Indies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, University of Malta, Leiden University, and the University of the West of England.

Jim Randall noted that this was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the intellectual capacity and hospitality of the University of Aruba and the island in general. “Several first-time international delegates said to me that this will not be the last time they plan on visiting Aruba,” he said.

The Planning Committee is grateful for the contributions made by the sponsors to this event. These include The Dutch Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Guardian Group Fatum, the University of the West of England, Aruba Tourism Authority, the Think to Do Institute, Smit&Dorlas, and Aruba Aloe.

For more information, visit the official Conference website.


NEWS: UPEI signs MOU with University of the West Indies

UPEI signs MOU with University of the West Indies

January 7, 2019 —

In December, the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) signed their first ever Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), to pursue collaboration in teaching and research to inform social and economic development in developing countries.

The collaboration is to be implemented through the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) at The UWI and the Institute of Island Studies (IIS) at UPEI and may involve activities such as joint research, collaborative development of academic programmes, joint teaching and supervision of students, student and faculty exchange, joint publications, and staging of joint seminars and conferences.

The UWI, which is rated in the top five percent of universities globally by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, was established in 1948 and currently serves 17 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean, all of them with the exception of one being island states. With eight faculties across its campuses in Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and an Open Campus with a presence in all 17 countries, The UWI’s vision is to be an excellent global university rooted in the Caribbean.
SALISES is a research and graduate teaching entity located within The UWI’s School of Graduate Studies and Research. It aims to be an internationally renowned institution for graduate education and research-based solutions in development. Its mandate is to conduct training and research of a regional, multidisciplinary and policy-oriented nature to serve the needs of small developing countries like those in the Caribbean.

Prof. Henry-Lee

Remarking on the collaboration, Professor Aldrie Henry-Lee, University Director of SALISES, said, “We at SALISES are pleased to collaborate with colleagues at the Institute of Island Studies. We share similar research and teaching interests. This collaboration will enhance our publication, research and teaching on sustainable development for small and vulnerable economies.”

Prof. Randall

For his part, Professor James Randall, Chair of the Executive Committee under the direction of which IIS operates and co-chair of a UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability, said, “The IIS and its affiliated academic programs at the University of Prince Edward Island have established research and post-graduate learning networks with island-based colleagues and institutions around the world. We are pleased to start developing productive research and exchange relationships with the world-class scholars and graduate students at SALISES and The UWI.” 

The MOU is for an initial period of three years.

NEWS: UPEI signs MOU with Japan’s University of the Ryukyus

UPEI signs MOU with Japan’s University of the Ryukyus

November 22, 2018 —

UOR President Ashiro & UPEI President Alaa

On November 21, University of Prince Edward Island President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz and Island Studies professor and UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability Dr. Jim Randall welcomed a delegation from the University of the Ryukyus, an island university based in Okinawa, Japan. The purpose was to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the two universities, to facilitate academic exchange of students and of faculty. 

Said University of the Ryukyus President Hajime Oshiro, “The University of Prince Edward Island and the University of the Ryukyus have been engaging in academic exchange led mainly by faculty members, specially, in the field of island studies. I myself specialize in island economics and was making research collaboration with the Institute of Island Studies of your university. The Research Institute for Islands and Sustainability of our university has also been collaborating with the Institute of Island Studies.”

Faculty from the two universities have visited back and forth since 2014, when Prof. Yoko Fujita, University of the Ryukyus Vice President and Director of their Research Institute for Islands and Sustainability, visited UPEI to attend the Excellence Network of Island Territories (RETI) annual conference.

In 2017, the University of the Ryukyus hosted RETI; both co-holders of the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability, Drs. Jim Randall and Godfrey Baldacchino, attended.

NEWS: UPEI hosts SSHRC-funded meetings to create research relationships and partnerships in field of Island Studies

SSHRC-funded meetings to create research relationships and partnerships in field of Island Studies

September 10, 2018— 

UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies and the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability hosted a weekend of meetings with representatives and researchers from a dozen islands around the world. This unprecedented gathering of scholars in the field of Island Studies is made possible by a Partnership Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The project will build relationships between researchers and will fund up to twelve graduate students.

From L to R: Godfrey Baldacchino (Malta), Pia Hansson (Iceland), Margaret Paterson (UPEI MAIS student), Kimberly Wishart Chu Foon (UPEI PhD Environmental Sciences student), John Telesford (Grenada), Ioannis Spilanis (Greece on video), Gerard Prinsen (New Zealand), Patrick Watson (Trinidad & Tobago), Rob Greenwood (Newfoundland), Laurie Brinklow (PEI), Robert Gilmour (VP Academic & Research, UPEI). Lots missing, including the Principal Investigator Jim Randall (UPEI)

“The Institute of Island Studies and the UNESCO Chairs in Island Studies and Sustainability are to be commended for organizing this very important initiative, which will bring together representatives of small island states to develop strategies to address their unique issues regarding sustainability and sovereignty,” said Dr. Robert Gilmour, UPEI’s Vice-President Academic and Research. “Island jurisdictions are often viewed as vulnerable, poverty-stricken, and destitute, but research shows many of these islands are better described as innovative and entrepreneurial.”

This meeting brought together six representatives of small island states (Iceland, New Zealand, Mauritius, Palau, Cyprus, St. Lucia and Grenada) and six representatives from non-sovereign, sub-national island jurisdictions (Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, La Réunion, Lesbos, Guam and Tobago). These groups will compare experiences, to see whether statehood is a boon or hindrance when implementing sustainable practices in social-political, cultural-artistic, economic, and environmental areas.

“Take an island’s ability to respond to a natural crisis, such as a hurricane,” said Dr. James Randall, co-holder of the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability. “If that island is a sub-national jurisdiction, is it a benefit to know the larger government will be there to help them respond, or will an independent island state be better equipped to determine what is needed and implement that plan.”

The project will develop a set of measures of sustainability and sovereignty by undertaking household and focus group surveys using comparisons of six pairs of islands. The Institute of Island Studies and the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability will coordinate these activities, bringing together island researchers and solving issues using a local-to-global integrated approach.

For more details, visit the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability website or contact us at iis@upei.ca

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is the federal research funding agency that promotes and supports postsecondary-based research and research training in the humanities and social sciences. By focusing on developing talent, generating insights and forging connections across campuses and communities, SSHRC strategically supports world-leading initiatives that reflect a commitment to ensuring a better future for Canada and the world.

NEWS: UPEI announces UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability

UPEI announces UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability.
Chair will be co-held by Dr. James Randall and Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino

July 22, 2016 —


Drs Randall and Baldacchino
Dr. Jim Randall & Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino

Dr. Robert Gilmour, Vice-President Academic and Research at the University of Prince Edward Island, today announced a new UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability. The chair will be co-held by Dr. James Randall, a geographer and coordinator of UPEI’s Master of Arts in Island Studies (MAIS) program, and Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino, a professor of sociology at the University of Malta and an Island Studies teaching fellow at the University of Prince Edward Island.

“The UNESCO Chair is a singular achievement for the university, particularly for the program in Island Studies,” said Dr. Robert Gilmour. “The chair formalizes and reinforces the combined efforts of our former Canada Research Chair, Dr. Baldacchino, and the current coordinator of UPEI’s MAIS program, Dr. Randall, and, as such, significantly enhances the international impact of one of the university’s signature initiatives.”

The UNESCO Chair in Island Studies will work to establish and expand academic and research programmes on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Sub-National Island Jurisdictions (SNIJs). It will operate from the premise that SIDS and SNIJs are innovative, entrepreneurial, and connected, not vulnerable, lacking, and isolated. The chair is one of 700 UNESCO chairs around the world and is the first in Atlantic Canada.

“The relevance of islands to our world at the moment is unparalleled. From political turmoil in the South China Sea, to the impacts of climate change, to refugee movements through Europe, to the role of offshore financial centres, stories about islands and islanders seem to be in the news every day,” said Dr. James Randall. “This Chair brings together the people and the organizations doing island studies research and learning in order to help us solve some of the great challenges facing our world.”

The principal long-term mission of the Chair of Island Studies and Sustainability is to contribute to the sustainable development of SIDS—a UNESCO priority since the articulation of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000—and to extend this priority to SNIJs. The chair proposes to harness the insights and experience of island studies scholars, students, governments, and organizations worldwide, many of which the co-chair-holders, the Institute of Island Studies, and partners and supporters have already established.

“It is a great privilege to be the co-holder of the UNESCO Chair Program at UPEI along with my colleague Dr. Jim Randall,” said Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino. “UPEI has made huge investments in island studies over almost four decades and has developed a world class and world renowned reputation and expertise as a result. Most island studies roads lead to, or pass through, Charlottetown; the UNESCO Chair is a natural transition which now allows us to take the game to the next level, whether in public engagement, cutting edge scholarship, or research funding.”

“It is most edifying to see the strong relationship between the University of Prince Edward Island and the University of Malta cemented with this prestigious UNESCO Chair appointment—a first for both our institutions,” said Professor Alfred J. Vella, Rector of the University of Malta, in Malta. “In this way, our respective expertise in the study of islands and small jurisdictions is better recognized. I look forward to an even stronger island studies program, driven by the competitive advantage that our two institutions enjoy in this field.”

This chair is created through the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme, which has promoted international inter-university cooperation and networking since 1992 to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work. The programme supports the establishment of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in key priority areas related to UNESCO’s fields of competence – i.e. in education, the natural and social sciences, culture, and communication.

For more information on the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability, visit the Chair website: projects.upei.ca/unescochair