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: