IIS September News
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UNESCO Co-chairs host meeting in Charlottetown

Charlottetown, PEI (September 2018) ― The Institute of Island Studies and the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability recently 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.

“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, subnational 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 subnational 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.
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). Several missing, including Principal Investigator Jim Randall (UPEI)

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.

Island Studies Lecture Series returns this fall

Save the dates!

The IIS Lecture Series has speakers lined up for October 16, November 20, and December 11. Unless otherwise noted, lectures are on the UPEI campus, in the SDU Main Building Faculty Lounge, starting at 7 pm. This fall we feature Prince Edward Island topics... more info to come!

Admission to the lectures are free, so bring a friend!


Introducing Bren Simmers, new Island Studies Press Managing Editor

We are pleased to announce that Ms. Bren Simmers is the new Managing Editor of Island Studies Press, replacing Joan Sinclair who retired at the end of April.

Bren Simmers comes to Island Studies Press from BC (via Sackville, NB). Her past publishing experience includes working as the poetry editor for PRISM international and the features editor for The Martlet, along with freelance editing, design and publicity for The Ranger Station Art Gallery where she was Writer in Residence. She has a MFA in Creative Writing from UBC and is the author of two poetry collections, Hastings-Sunrise (Nightwood, 2015), and Night Gears (Wolsak and Wynn, 2010). Gaspereau Press will be publishing a book of her creative non-fiction in fall 2019. She is delighted to join Island Studies Press and has loved PEI since first setting foot on it.  

Jim and Laurie are thrilled to welcome Bren to the Island Studies corridor on the ground floor of Main Building. We would also like to thank Joan for all the work she did bringing so many award-winning ISP books to Island bookshelves. We wish Joan the very best of retirements!

Welcome to our newest Advisory Committee member

The IIS welcomes Jean-Paul Arsenault to its Advisory Committee. Jean-Paul is no stranger to the Institute: he was a Board Member for several years during the 1990s.

Born in Wellington, Prince Edward Island, Jean-Paul 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.

Jean-Paul holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick and a Master's 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.


Routledge International Handbook of Island Studies now available in the UPEI Bookstore


Godfrey Baldacchino's latest edited collection, The Routledge International Handbook of Island Studies: A World of Islands, is now on sale in the UPEI Bookstore for $65.00 (pb edition). 
Featuring 21 chapters from eminent scholars in the Island Studies field, the 460-page book is a must-have for anyone interested in the study of islands "on their own terms."

The Routledge International Handbook of Island Studies is a global, research-based and pluri-disciplinary overview of the study of islands. Its chapters deal with the contribution of islands to literature, social science, and natural science, as well as other applied areas of inquiry. The collated expertise of interdisciplinary and international scholars offers unique insights: individual chapters dwell on geomorphology, zoology and evolutionary biology; the history, sociology, economics and politics of island communities; tourism, well-being and migration; as well as island branding, resilience and "commoning." The text also offers pioneering forays into the study of islands that are cities, along rivers, or artificial constructions.

This insightful Handbook will appeal to geographers, environmentalists, sociologists, political scientists, and, one hopes, some of the 600 million or so people who live on islands or are interested in the rich dynamics of islands and island life.


News from Rural Canada

In the past few weeks, stories of rural Canada have been in the national news, with the publication in Maclean's magazine of their piece, "What's killing rural Canada," by Aaron Hutchins. As a follow-up to an article that portrays rural communities as mostly doom-and-gloom scenarios, Dr. Sarah Breen, President of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF), was interviewed to comment on the storyand to perhaps put a more positive spin on the state of rural Canada. Here's her response, in an interview with Charles Adler of the Global News Network: "What can be done to help rural Canada thrive?"

Incidentally, IIS co-ordinator Laurie Brinklow is proud to say that she's a Board member of CRRF, thanks to long-time IIS Board member and supporter of Island Studies, Frank Driscoll. Frank made the connection with CRRF in the 1990s, which we've gone on to strengthen over the past two decades. Indeed, Dr. Laurie will be presenting a paper at the CRRF Annual Rural Conference, Health & Shared Prosperity, in Saskatoon in October, as will new MAIS student Patrick Leveque. And please note: it's still not too late to register or become a member of CRRF, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year!


Welcome, new MAIS students!

We are pleased to welcome a new cohort of nine students in the Master of Arts in Island Studies program  ― the largest since the program began in 2003. We welcome our thesis students and, for the first time, students in the new course- and work-study-based Island Tourism program. Next year we look forward to rolling out the second stream of the course-based MAIS: Sustainable Island Communities. For more information on any of these programs, please contact Co-ordinator Dr. Jim Randall at

And we send along our congratulations to Owen Jennings, who in August successfully defended his thesis entitled "Becoming Connected: Remoteness and Identity on Saint Helena," before heading off to the University of Hawai'i to undertake a PhD program. You may remember Owen's lecture in our Island Lecture Series two years ago: Saint Helena: An Island in Flux


Engaging Islands: RETI 2018

This year, Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, will host Engaging Islands: RETI Symposium 2018, November 23-28, 2018. 

Every year, a RETI member organization hosts a conference focusing on themes identified by the organizing committee. Attendees include university presidents and their delegates, faculty members, and graduate students. 

The conference also includes an "Island School," a unique opportunity for visiting students to meet their host counterparts, present on their own work, and hear from some of the top island-based scholars in the world from across the disciplines.

The meetings focus on the network governance and establish priorities and concrete opportunities for student exchange, collaborative research, and engagement with network members.

RETI (Excellence Network of Island Territories/Réseau d’excellence des territoires insulaires) is a network of 27 island-based universities spanning six continents interested in developing closer research and education collaborations between the member institutions. UPEI is one of the member universities.

Deadline for abstract submissions to this year's RETI Symposium is September 15.

Themes include:

People, Mobility, and Internationalization of Island Spaces: topics could relate to migration patterns (historical and contemporary,) internationalization at island universities, mobile labour forces, and the impacts of mobility (physical and digital) on island populations, among others.

Oceans, Science, and Technology: topics could relate to climate change, biodiversity, fisheries, and aquaculture, among others.

Island Literature, Folklore, and Language: topics could relate to writing, storytelling, television and film-making, visual culture, digital culture, and minority language groups among others.

Resilience and Governance of Islands: topics could relate to public policy, community wellness and well-being, economic and regional development, preparing for population change, social innovation, and community-based development, among others.

Island Tourism: topics could relate to challenges and opportunities of island tourism, labor markets, terroir and local food tourism, national and regional parks, transportation, and tourism trends, among others.

For more information, check out


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