[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] Future Prosperity Scholarships awarded to UPEI Island Studies students

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (May 4, 2021) —

The Master of Arts in Island Studies (MAIS) program at the University of Prince Edward Island is pleased to announce the recipients of the Future Prosperity Scholarships. The winners for 2020 are Greg Ellison, Eliza MacLauchlan, and Alyssa Gillespie. They join Joyce Ferguson and Sarah Davison who received the awards in 2019.

The Future Prosperity Scholarships are generously funded by Dr. Regis and Mrs. Joan Duffy and the Province of Prince Edward Island’s Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture. The awards were created two years ago to support students whose thesis research focuses on a topic related to the future prosperity of Prince Edward Island, ranging from entrepreneurship and tourism to renewable energy and migration.

“Congratulations to all the recipients of the Future Prosperity Scholarships,” said Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture Matthew MacKay. “Thank you for your dedication and extensive research in exploring how we can make Prince Edward Island a better place for generations to come.”

“These are exceptional researchers and scholars helping us better understand the unique challenges and opportunities of life on islands,” said Dr. Katherine Gottschall-Pass, interim vice-president academic and research at UPEI. “The Future Prosperity Scholarships are crucial to ensuring these students are able explore this knowledge, which will have far-reaching impacts on Island life and policy.”

More about the winners

Greg Ellison is interested in climate change and reducing carbon emissions in both island and non-island societies. His research will focus on the factors, particularly “islandness,” that can facilitate energy democracy and enable smoother transitions towards renewable energy systems. Through examining island societies in the North Atlantic region, Ellison is hoping to uncover factors that can lead to increased social acceptance of renewable energy expansion, with the goal of bringing these lessons back to Prince Edward Island.

Alyssa Gillespie is undertaking research on the issue of youth retention and migration in rural Prince Edward Island communities, focusing on systemic issues and the individual experiences of those who make the decision to leave. By examining factors that keep youth in their island communities and what communities and youth identify as the “pull factors” to attract new people, Gillespie hopes to provide meaningful opportunities for youth to stay within their communities and to attract new people.

Eliza MacLauchlan is looking at the experience of tenants on small islands, such as the process of gentrification and displacement, and the impact this has on tenants. Through a comparative study with islands that are similar to Prince Edward Island, she will aim to understand the experience of tenants and look at the larger implications for housing policy on Prince Edward Island and other small islands.

Sarah Davison is a rural Island resident and an entrepreneur who is interested in the stories and visual representations of entrepreneurs who work in PEI’s tourism industry, specifically within arts and culture. Her research explores how photographic images represent off-season tourism and how these might influence our local understandings of self and place. The study is relevant to the ongoing discussions of social entrepreneurship, seasonality, and concepts of “islandness” on PEI and other small islands.

Joyce Ferguson’s research interests revolve around the relationship between energy policy and community in an island setting. Ferguson has chosen to focus her thesis on the wind farm expansion controversy in eastern Kings County. Her work will highlight community acceptance/resistance to large-scale renewable energy initiatives.

Successful applicants for these awards receive up to $25,000 over two years.

There are currently 47 students registered in the Master of Arts in Island Studies program: 27 in the thesis stream and 20 in the three course/work-study streams (Island Tourism, Sustainable Island Communities, and International Relations and Island Public Policy). While many of the students come from Prince Edward Island, others are from Halifax, Ontario, the USA, England, the Bahamas, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Sweden, Vietnam, Nigeria, Ghana, Turkey, and China.

For more information on the Master of Arts Island Studies program, or to apply for the next round of Future Prosperity Scholarships, contact Dr. Laurie Brinklow at brinklow@upei.ca.

Media contact:
Dave Atkinson
Communications Officer
Marketing and Communications, University of Prince Edward Island
datkinson@upei.ca | (902) 620-5117

[Press Release] What Newfoundland and Labrador can learn from Iceland’s financial crisis

For Immediate Release

Charlottetown, PEI (March 15, 2021) —
What Newfoundland and Labrador can learn from Iceland’s financial crisis

UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies hosting free virtual event Tuesday, March 30th, 2021 featuring researchers from Newfoundland & Labrador and Iceland. More here

A Stella’s Circle building in St. John’s, shown
in the spring of 2020, carries a message of hope.
Source: The Canadian Press.

As cold-water islands with a shared history, Newfoundland and Labrador and Iceland are often compared. This time researchers are looking at what one island can learn from the other about getting through a financial crisis. They will be sharing their findings at a free, online, public event on Tuesday, March 30th at 1:00 pm ADT, hosted by the Institute of Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI).

While the financial catastrophe in Newfoundland and Labrador and the 2008 banking crisis in Iceland both seemed to happen suddenly, this study shows they both had deep roots. “Neither government heeded warnings before their crisis and both had poor communications throughout their crisis,” explains one of the researchers, Mark Stoddart of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. “In Iceland however, public outrage created a turning point that we haven’t yet seen in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

This research undertaken by Professor Stoddart and Dr. Ásthildur Elva Bernharðsdóttir, an independent research scholar at ReykjavíkAkademían in Iceland, is a part of the Sustainable Island Futures project being coordinated by Dr. Jim Randall, the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability at UPEI. The project aims to develop a better understanding of the sustainable development practices and potential of small islands and is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

For more information and to register for the event, visit islandstudies.com/islandlectureseries-march2021.


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

Event contact:
Maggie Henry, Institute of Island Studies, UPEI

[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

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