The Island as a case study

Guest post by  Dr Irene Novaczek, Institute of Island Studies, about the Time and A Place Conference at UPEI (June 13-18), which explores  environmental histories, environmental futures, and Prince Edward Island.

Environmentally speaking, Prince Edward Island is blessed with an exceedingly “usable” past.   Our well-documented history of extensive and varied resource use, our small size and the closeness of the people to land and sea mean that it is relatively easy for us to come to grips with how past environmental practices and attitudes have shaped Island society and ecology. This manageable scale and rich history were the inspiration for a unique interactive conference that will be hosted by the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI, from 13 to 18 June.

Challenging social, economic and environmental conditions have prompted the Province of Prince Edward Island to undertake a series of land use commissions in recent decades. As we enter an age of peak oil and climate change, what can we learn from our environmental history that might help us improve our performance in caring for the environment? The Institute of Island Studies has teamed up with the Network in Canadian History and Environment to bring together senior scholars, students, policy makers and community representatives to explore that question, share their knowledge and experiences and debate the possibilities for the future. Participants from across Canada, the USA, Iceland, Australia and Chile will engage in workshops and immerse themselves in Island landscapes, including a powwow ground, Acadian forest, archeological sites, coastal dunes, traditional farm fields, rural villages and city streets. At the end of the week, they will consider how public policy for the management and protection of the environment is developed, how environmental history can inform that process, and how concerned citizens, academics, artists and others can influence future policy.

Although the core conference is fully subscribed, the public is encouraged to participate by attending free public lectures by internationally recognized speakers that will take place every evening from June 13 through 18. On Sunday 14 June, Dr Finis Dunaway (Trent University) will explore the connection between visual culture and the environment, at the Confederation Centre.  On Monday Dr Donald Worster (U Kansas) will speak on “North Americans in an Age of Limits” at the Eptek Centre in Summerside. Tuesday’s offering by Dr Graeme Wynne (UBC) is on forest history of the Maritimes, at UPEI. Wednesday we will hear from world fisheries expert Dr Daniel Pauly (UBC), who will speak in the Souris theatre about past challenges and the way forward for fisheries. Dr Harriet Ritvo (MIT) is the keynote speaker for Thursday at UPEI. She will focus on our relationship with animals and how this has influenced human economics, society and the environment. Friday brings the Chief Justice Thane Campbell Lecture by distinguished environmental lawyer Toby Vigod, who will ask whether we are making progress in environmental law and policy in Canada. 

For full details visit or call the Institute of Island Studies at 566-0386 or visit us on facebook at "Time and a Place" UPEI Conference in Environmental History