70 DELEGATES from 16 universities across the world will gather in Orkney this weekend for the annual Réseau d’Excellence des Territoires Insulaires (RETI) conference.
RETI is a federation of island universities with a common interest in island issues.
This year’s conference, hosted by the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Centre for Nordic Studies in Kirkwall, will focus on the impact of cultural heritage on economic development in island destinations.
“We’re honoured to host this year’s conference,” explained University of the Highlands and Islands principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Clive Mulholland.
“I’m delighted to welcome such a distinguished group of academics from universities from as far afield as Tasmania and Canada to join us here in Orkney where our Centre for Nordic Studies and Orkney College UHI will act as a focus for the conference and the summer school which follows.
“The University of the Highlands and Islands has been an enthusiastic member of RETI for three years and I am looking forward to joining delegates in a wide variety of discussions on island issues.
“Seven of the 13 colleges and research institutions which make up our university have learning centres on islands, with five wholly based on islands. As the UK’s leading integrated university, encompassing both further and higher education, we are in an excellent position to share our experience in education and research in island environments.”
Students and graduates from the university’s island studies masters programme will be delivering two of the lectures at the conference, and one of the summer school modules.
Nic Thake, who will graduate this year, is leading a session on innovative energy production on the island of Shapinsay, where he is the service manager of the Shapinsay Development Trust. While Lynne Collinson, who graduated last year, will talk about the potential of cold islands as pilgrimage sites.
Another student, Kathy Hubbard, has provided Dr Andrew Jennings with material for his summer school session about Shetland’s top arts facility Mareel and the reality of providing top quality art in an island location.
Professor Donna Heddle, from the university’s Centre for Nordic Studies, added: “We are delighted to welcome colleagues from so many other islands to our own island home.
“The centre’s international reputation for area and island studies is growing ever stronger and having this prestigious conference in Orkney puts us very firmly on the island studies map!”
The RETI conference begins with a civic reception hosted by Orkney Islands Council on Friday (26 June) and continues with a range of presentations, governance committees and field trips over the weekend.
For more information, go to www.reti2015.org
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