The University of Southern Maine hosted the first-ever North Atlantic-Arctic Collaborative Showcase on Friday, April 6, featuring presentations on research topics ranging from climate change to ecology, biodiversity, anthropology and more.
It was the first of what members of the Maine-North Atlantic & Arctic Education Consortium hope becomes an annual event, featuring 36 presenters and drawing more than 180 people from universities, colleges and research institutions across Maine.
The consortium, of which USM is a part, is a 15-member organization working to educate the public about economic, cultural, and environmental issues facing the Maine, North Atlantic, and Arctic region.
In addition to USM students and faculty, presenting were representatives from the University of Maine, University of New England, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Saint Joseph’s College and Maine Maritime Academy, among several others.
“Our hope is that students especially are able to see career opportunities and research opportunities here in the North Atlantic and the Arctic,” said Maggie Vishneau, senior policy associate for research and organizational development at the Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy. “As well, this can foster some collaborative work among researchers and faculty.”
Vishneau said particularly exciting about the event was its cross-disciplinary nature.
“It’s not just about climate change,” she said, surrounded by art from Justin Levesque '10, whose “One Dynamic System” series examines Maine’s emerging relation to the North Atlantic and Arctic.
Dana Eidsness, director of the Maine North Atlantic Development Office — one of the showcase’s sponsors — lauded the consortium’s efforts to expand Maine’s role in Northern Atlantic and Arctic affairs.
“As a consortium, this is a remarkable group, a unique group, coming together and sharing ideas, sharing resources and collaborating toward shared successes, and I’m really proud to have them here in the state of Maine," she said.
USM President Glenn Cummings also spoke at the event, detailing the importance of USM’s role in the consortium.
“Many of our partners in the North Atlantic have struggled with some of the same issues of public policy, economics and social and cultural issues that we are, and a consortium allows us to get best practices and successes, and for us to advance better than we would have if we didn’t do that,” Cummings said. “That is a role of a great college and a great university: to help that society figure out what are the struggles, what are the answers using good research, and then multiply that and amplify that to the people who most need it.”
By Alan Bennett, Office of Public Affairs