UPEI hosts discussion with researchers from 12 islands on challenges, opportunities, and similarities

SSHRC-funded meetings to create research relationships and partnerships in field of island studies
Posted: 
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies and the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability 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, sub-national 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 sub-national 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.

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.

The University of Prince Edward Island prides itself on people, excellence, and impact and is committed to assisting students reach their full potential in both the classroom and community. With roots stemming from two founding institutions—Prince of Wales College and Saint Dunstan’s University—UPEI has a reputation for academic excellence, research innovation, and creating positive impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. UPEI is the only degree granting institution in the province and is proud to be a key contributor to the growth and prosperity of Prince Edward Island.

Dave Atkinson
Research Communications Officer
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Marketing and Communication
Phone: 
(902) 620-5117
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