The Malta Independent 2 December 2023, Saturday
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University of Malta announces Unesco Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability

Thursday, 18 August 2016, 09:24 Last update: about 8 years ago

Prof. Alfred J. Vella, rector of the University of Malta and Prof. Robert Gilmour, vice-president (Academic and Research) at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, have co-announced a new Unesco Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability.

The chair will be co-held by Prof. Godfrey Baldacchino, professor of Sociology and incoming pro-rector (International Development) at the University of Malta and an Island Studies Teaching Fellow at the University of Prince Edward Island, along with Prof. James E. Randall, a social geographer and coordinator of UPEI's Master of Arts in Island Studies programme.

The launch was held on the UPEI Campus, Charlottetown, Canada, in the presence of representatives of Federal and Provincial Government.

The Unesco Chair in Island Studies will work to establish and expand academic and research programmes on Small Island Developing States and Sub-National Island Jurisdictions. It will operate from the premise that SIDS and SNIJs are innovative, entrepreneurial and connected, not vulnerable, lacking and isolated. The chair is one of around 700 Unesco Chairs around the world and is the first in both Malta and Atlantic Canada.

"It is a great privilege to be the co-holder of the Unesco Chair Programme at UPEI along with my colleague Professor Jim Randall," said Prof. Baldacchino. "Both UM and UPEI have made huge investments in island studies over almost four decades and have developed a worldclass and world renowned reputation and expertise as a result. The Unesco Chair is a natural transition which now allows us to take the game to the next level: whether in public engagement, cutting edge scholarship and research funding."

"It is most edifying to see the strong relationship between the University of Prince Edward Island and the University of Malta cemented with this prestigious Unesco Chair appointment: a first for both our institutions," said the rector of the University of Malta. "In this way, our respective expertise in the study of islands and small jurisdictions is better recognised. I look forward to an even stronger 'island studies' programme, driven by the competitive advantage that our two institutions enjoy in this field."

This chair is created through the UNITWIN/Unesco Chairs Programme, which has promoted international inter-university cooperation and networking since 1992 to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work. The programme supports the establishment of Unesco Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in key priority areas related to Unesco's fields of competence, that is, in education, the natural and social sciences, culture and communication.

The University of Malta and UPEI have been collaborating in island studies since the late 1980s. Dozens of students and academic staff members have benefited from vibrant exchanges across various fields of study and active research cooperation. The latest student from the UM to spend a semester at UPEI will travel to Canada in September to study at UPEI's School of Nursing.

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