Is the “Island way of life” lost when the ferry becomes a bridge?
with Janice Pettit
Tuesday, October 16, 2018 | 7 p.m. | SDU Main Building Faculty Lounge
The Island Lecture Series kicks off another season on Tuesday, October 16, at 7 p.m. in the SDU Main Building Faculty Lounge on the UPEI campus, and will feature Ms. Janice Pettit speaking about her master’s research: “Is the ‘Island way of life’ lost when the ferry becomes a bridge?”
Politicians began talking about building a fixed link between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick in the late 1980s, and while this was not the first time the topic was broached, the Premier of the day suggested a plebiscite vote to determine Islanders’ interest. Both those opposed and those in favour of the link rallied their two sides at public meetings prior to the vote to ensure their messages were heard.  The “no” side raised a number of issues, but their main concern centred on the perceived loss of the “Island way of life” if a fixed link connected the Island to the mainland. During the 1989 plebiscite, Islanders voted almost 60 per cent in favour of a fixed crossing, and in 1997 the Confederation Bridge opened to the public.
Given all that was said and written regarding concerns about the loss of islandness, it is somewhat surprising that, until now, research had not been conducted to determine if the bridge has, in fact, had this impact. Have Prince Edward Islanders lost their “Island way of life”? This presentation, drawn from the exploratory thesis research of a UPEI Master of Arts in Island Studies (MAIS) graduate, provides some insight into whether Prince Edward Island residents still consider themselves islanders and if their island identity has been affected by the fixed connection to the mainland.
Janice Pettit graduated from the MAIS program in May 2018 and is a Senior Policy Advisor with the Government of Prince Edward Island.Admission to the lecture is free and everyone is welcome to attend.The next lecture is scheduled for November 20. Mark your calendars!For more information, please contact
Laurie at iis@upei.ca or (902) 894-2881.




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
Charlottetown, PEI (September 10, 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.

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). Lots missing, including the 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.


UNESCO Co-chair in Island Studies and Sustainability donates books to the Robertson Library

Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino has donated several of his latest publications to the Robertson Library. Included are five books in the Rethinking the Island Series (Rowman & Littlefield), which he co-edited with Elizabeth McMahon and Elaine Stratford, as well as two books he edited: Solution Protocols to Festering Island Disputes: ‘Win-Win’ Solutions for the Diaoyu / Senkaku Islands (Routledge, 2017) and The Routledge International Handbook of Island Studies (Routledge, 2018). The Library and our Island Studies community thanks you, Godfrey!



Our vision:

  • to be the leading centre of excellence on issues related to island studies scholarship, public policy, and engagement.

Our mandate:

  • To encourage a deep knowledge, understanding, and expression of Prince Edward Island;
  • To serve as a bridge between the University and Island communities;
  • To contribute to the formulation of public policy in Prince Edward Island;
  • To undertake and facilitate island studies research and education at local, national, and global scales.



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