IIS Advisory Committee

Institute of Island Studies | Advisory Committee

The Institute of Island Studies is fortunate to have a strong Advisory Committee made up of distinguished individuals from Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Iceland, and the Shetland Islands. They have a passion and a commitment to the study of island issues and topics and their skill sets are directly relevant to enhance the operational effectiveness and long-term vision of the Institute. Members of the IIS Advisory Committee are appointed by the IIS Executive Committee.


Jean-Paul Arsenault
Born in Wellington, Prince Edward Island, Jean-Paul Arsenault retired in 2013. He experienced a varied career in both the public and private sectors, including twenty-one years with the Government of Prince Edward Island and eight years with the Government of Canada. His private sector experience included an eight-year association with a Charlottetown-based human resource consulting firm. Prior to his retirement, he served as a full-time member of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board.
Mr. Arsenault holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick and a Masters in Business Administration from Université Laval. Most of his retirement activities are based on a deep love of the outdoors. He also has a great interest in Acadian history and genealogy. He and his wife, Elva, have travelled extensively and intend to continue doing so. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.

Sheila Downer
Sheila has worked in Labrador for 28 years and is a strong advocate for the development of rural communities. She is a former recreation director for communities in the Labrador Straits and has served as the managing director of Smart Labrador Inc. She has worked for the development of information technology in Labrador and has led the planning and management of several major IT projects. Ms. Downer has been recognized as one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEOs; has served as a member of the Hemispheric Advisory Board for the Institute of Connecting the Americas (International Development Research Centre), and is currently the chair of Memorial University’s Harris Centre Advisory Board. Sheila has been involved in several North Atlantic Forums (NAF) over the years and oversees the NAF Secretariat in her role as Public Engagement Co-ordinator at the Harris Centre.

Dr. Ryan Gibson
Ryan is the President of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, past-president of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, and Libro Professor of Regional Economic Development at the University of Guelph. He was Program Committee Chair for the NAF 2015 Steering Committee. Ryan serves as the Chair of the Institute’s Advisory Committee.
Learn more

The Hon. Diane Griffin, Senate of Canada
The Hon. Diane Griffin, Senator for Prince Edward Island, is former Stratford Town Councillor, former Deputy Minister in the PEI Department of Environment and Energy and former Executive Director of the Island Nature Trust; she was also the Natural Areas Coordinator for the Province of Alberta, and the PEI Program Manager for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. She has served on several national boards, including the Canadian Nature Federation and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (PEI) Inc., and was president of the Natural History Society of PEI and vice-chair of the QEH Foundation. Diane is the recipient of the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal and the PEI Environment award. Learn more

Guðrun Þóra Gunnarsdóttir
Guðrun is director of the Icelandic Tourism Research Centre located in Akureyri, Iceland. With degrees from the University of Iceland, Oregon, and Guelph, she holds an MBA in Tourism and Hospitality from Guelph. She has served on numerous hospitality and tourism industry boards in Iceland and has been an integral part of writing tourism strategies in and around Iceland. She served on the steering committee for NAF 2013, which was held in Hólar, Iceland, in June 2013.

Dr. Andrew Jennings
Andrew is a lecturer and researcher with the Centre for Nordic Studies in the University of Highlands and Islands. He is based in Scalloway in the Shetland Islands. He has a wide range of academic interests and his teaching responsibilities include module leaderships in the UHI MLitt programmes – Orkney and Shetland Studies, Viking Studies, and Highlands and Islands Culture. He is the programme leader for the UHI MLitt in Island Studies, which explores issues of islandness, peripherality, resilience, identity, and governance. His current research includes the Vikings and the history, culture, and governance of Shetland, both past and present. Learn more

Andrew Lush
Andrew is the manager of the Hunter-Clyde Watershed Group, and is active in a number of PEI environmental organizations. He chaired the Community Tours/Field Trips Committee for the Building Community Resilience conference held in Summerside in September 2015. He is a past-member of the Institute of Island Studies Advisory Council.


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