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.


Monday, November 14, 2016 | 7-9 p.m. p.m. | Duffy Science Centre Amphitheatre, Room 135, UPEI Campus
Sustainable Agriculture and the Island’s Food System

The Island’s “food system” will be the topic of a Public Symposium to be held at UPEI’s Duffy Science Centre Amphitheatre, Room 135, on Monday, November 14, beginning at 7:00 p.m. In particular, the discussion will focus on a move toward a more sustainable agriculture, with a stronger emphasis on local food and food security.

This event is one of a regular series of Public Symposia sponsored by UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies, in conjunction with UPEI Research Services.

The main speaker will be distinguished author and public policy specialist Dr. Mark Lapping, long associated with the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. Dr. Lapping has held many academic leadership posts, including that as founding Dean of the prestigious School of Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph. Throughout his career, he has maintained a strong interest in land issues in Prince Edward Island, and has published several papers and studies on the topic.

Lapping_MarkIn recent years, Dr. Lapping has focused his work on food systems and has written extensively on the subject. He was the leader of an ambitious undertaking at the Muskie School which developed a food plan and strategy for the state of Maine.

“To most people,” says Dr. Lapping, “food is about growing and consuming food.  But a food system,” he continues, “is a large set of processes and it is critical to take a wider, systems perspective. Only then might we have a more robust understanding of the ways by which a sustainable agriculture can become part of a larger process of change toward a more nutritious and just life for individuals, families and communities.”

Dr. Lapping will be joined by other panelists, to be announced. Stratford Town Councillor and IIS Advisory Committee member Diane Griffin has agreed to serve as Chair.

Members of the public are cordially invited to attend. Admission is free. Following the presentations, there will be ample time for discussion and questions from the floor.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 | 7 p.m. | UPEI Main Building Faculty Lounge, UPEI

Dr. Jean Mitchell presents Island Studies November Lecture:
Stories of Weathering Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu:  Leaf-houses, Flying Foxes, and Body Bags

The November Island Studies Lecture will be Tuesday, November 15, at 7 p.m. in the SDU Main Building Faculty Lounge on the UPEI campus, featuring Dr. Jean Mitchell sharing Stories of Weathering Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu: Leaf-houses, Flying Foxes, and Body Bags.

With winds up to 300 kph, Cyclone Pam was the largest cyclone to make landfall in the South Pacific islands since recordkeeping started. It struck the island of Vanuatu on March 13, 2015, leaving in its wake enormous losses of infrastructure, housing, animals, and food gardens. The ferocity and destructiveness of Cyclone Pam spurs questions about climate change and the effects of global warming and sea-level rise in the South Pacific Islands. Another key question also emerges: why did so few islanders die during the cyclone and its aftermath? Drawing on recent interviews with Islanders from the southern islands of Erromango and Tanna, which were literally in the eye of the storm, this presentation recounts stories from those Islanders about the cyclone and its aftermath. How social relationships, the gift/kastom economies, local knowledge, and the ways in which nature and culture are entangled in Vanuatu offer powerful insights into how to survive a cyclone.

jean-mitchellJean Mitchell, an associate professor of Anthropology at UPEI, has been working in Vanuatu for 20 years and has also conducted research in Kiribati and Solomon Islands. Prior to working in the Pacific she worked with the UN in India for five years. In Vanuatu she started the Young People’s Project at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. Her research interests include post-colonialism, youth, gender, health and urbanization. She has co-edited several volumes of essays on L.M. Montgomery and has been researching the Presbyterian Missionary history that connects Vanuatu and Prince Edward Island. She has, together with Vanuatu Cultural Centre, recently started a project on local knowledge, youth and the ecologies of gardens in Tanna and Erromango.

Admission to the Lecture is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

Watch for details for another lecture about islands – near and far – December 6! For more information, please contact Laurie at brinklow@upei.ca or (902) 894-2881.

July 22, 2016
A Tribute to Long-time Friend of the Institute of Island Studies: Dr. George McRobie
by Harry Baglole

George McRobie 2010

Dr. George McRobie died in Charlottetown on Friday, July 2nd. The trajectory of his remarkable life took him from his birthplace of Moscow (1925), through his childhood in northern Scotland, his highly successful career in London and throughout the world, and finally here to Prince Edward Island, his half-time home since 2009. He was a man of great personal warmth and charm, much beloved by his many friends on the Island.

McRobie achieved fame through his close association with the British economist E.F. Schumacher and what could be called the “Small Is Beautiful” movement. They first met while Schumacher was Economic Advisor to the National Coal Board. For Schumacher, international attention came with the publication of Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered, in 1973. This seminal work has been named by the Times Literary Supplement as one of the 100 most influential books published since World War II.

As well as being a fine theorist, Schumacher was also a remarkable man of action, and in McRobie he found a willing and capable colleague. Together they were founders of the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) in 1966, a UK-based NGO specializing in creating small-scale technology for developing countries. In 2005, the ITDG changed its name to Practical Action, and today it claims that “every year we help over one million people out of poverty.”

Schumacher and McRobie both served stints as President of the Soil Association, the main British organization promoting the use of organic agriculture.

For rather obvious reasons, the book Small Is Beautiful found a ready audience in Prince Edward Island. In 1975, McRobie first visited the Island, where he spoke to the Legislative Assembly at the invitation of Premier Alex Campbell.

With Schumacher’s death in 1977, the mantle of leadership fell on the shoulders of McRobie. In 1981 he published his book Small Is Possible – a “factual account about who is doing what, where, to put into practice the ideas expressed in E. F. Schumacher’s SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL.” McRobie’s purview encompassed the whole world; and in the chapter on Canada, he lauded the Island’s Institute of Man and Resources as one of “the two most striking and imaginative programmes” he had encountered in our country.

In later years, McRobie’s ties to the Island were strengthened when he was invited back on several occasions, at the invitation of the Institute of Island Studies, as an advisor on worker co-operatives and sustainable agriculture. In 1989, he was awarded an Honorary Degree by UPEI.

Dr. McRobie also has a close association with the Sir Andrew Macphail Foundation. This began in 1990 when he was tasked by the Institute of Island Studies to write a report outlining a vision for the Homestead in the demonstration and promotion of sustainable farming and forestry. Since 2011, the Homestead has hosted an annual George McRobie Lecture on the subject of sustainable agriculture – and George attended all five of these. The guest speaker at the inaugural McRobie Lecture was Patrick Holden, founder and head of The Sustainable Food Trust, and a friend of McRobie’s during the years they worked together at the Soil Association.

On a more personal note, George’s residency on the Island in recent years is entirely due to the sustainable devotion of his wife Susanne Manovill, friends since he visited here in the 1980s. In 2009 George was a widower, and Susanne invited him to return for a visit. Since then, Susanne and George have been inseparable.

Harry Baglole of Bonshaw is a former Director of UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies.(PHOTO by Francoise Enguehard)

Two good friends of the Institute of Island Studies receive awards at the 2016 Congress in Calgary!


Congratulations go out to Dr. Lisa Chilton and Dr. Edward MacDonald of UPEI’s history department, who were nationally recognized for excellence in research and service. READ MORE…


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