Island Studies: A Global Classroom

Bringing islands of the world into the 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 (MAIS) 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, the MAIS program has established linkages with other researchers and scholars from island universities throughout the world. We have a number of “institutional handshakes” in place, with memorandums of association (MOAs) and of understanding (MOUs) that involve faculty and student exchanges, extended research visits, and information-sharing both in person and via video conference. One example of this information-sharing is holding guest lecturing in each other’s classes, which then opens up into a general discussion; we have also hosted a number of joint classes.


All have guest-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, Master of Arts in Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada
“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, Akureyri, Iceland
“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,
MLitt in Island Studies, University of Highlands and Islands, Shetland
“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, New Zealand
“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 Emeritus (Island Studies), University of Prince Edward Island, Canada

  • Shifting perceptions of island sustainability
  • Island governance
  • Environmental governance on islands

For more information, please contact Laurie Brinklow at


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