Maine North Atlantic Institute

The University of Southern Maine (USM) has a strong history of engaging the greater community in responding to the state’s economic, health, and social needs.

As part of the Maine North Atlantic Institute, we’ve established partnerships with businesses, higher education institutions, and research centers in New England and the North Atlantic. Through these strategic partnerships, we’ve launched research, workforce development, and education programs — including study abroad opportunities — that spur economic growth, address public health concerns, elevate cultural enterprises, and build students’ global competence.

Future-Focused: Emerging Opportunities

The economic, educational, and cultural opportunities which are being realized through Maine’s relationship with the North Atlantic region offer our students, faculty, and the communities we serve both an expanded marketplace as well as fertile ground for research and scholarship.

  • While Maine’s research community is at the forefront of helping the world to understand the effects of climate change and sea-level rise, the Arctic ice-melt is opening new shipping lanes that shorten the distance between the Northeastern US and the North Atlantic region.
  • Maine is poised to become an international trade hub in the Northeastern US, placing our state at the center of economic activity for the east coast.
  • The state has developed new and expanded trade, educational, and cultural relationships with several countries in the North Atlantic Region.

Toward the Next Century: Envisioning & Designing Sustainable Coastal Communities

Toward the Next Century Video Image

"Toward the Next Century: Envisioning & Designing Sustainable Coastal Communities" summarizes the results of the Coastlines and People project, funded through the National Science Foundation. The project was a partnership between staff and researchers from USM's Maine North Atlantic Initiative and the University of New Hampshire.

Toward the Next Century: Envisioning & Designing Sustainable Coastal Communities summarizes the results of the Coastlines and People project, funded through the National Science Foundation. The project was a partnership between staff and researchers from USM's Maine North Atlantic Initiative and the University of New Hampshire.

Researchers convened visionaries from a broad range of communities and scientific sectors to dialogue about the future of our New England coastlines and the people that live there. Many communities have developed climate adaptation plans that focus on short to midterm timelines. Through discussion and interviews, participants were asked to broaden their view to the next hundred years and envision the future they would like to see.

A committee of community organizations focused on climate adaptation gathered to discuss ideas, share information, and determine how the project could best contribute to the current needs of coastal adaptation for communities in northern New England. These practitioners realize that communities are at various stages of coastal adaptation. Some communities are aware of environmental and socio-economic changes, have developed comprehensive climate action plans, and are in the process of developing and providing specific guidance to homeowners and businesses. Smaller and more remote communities in contrast often lack the capacity and resources to devote to climate and coastal adaptation planning.

Through online focus groups, surveys, and interviews, the Coastlines and People project identified the need for communities to:

  • Bring century-scale visioning into present-day planning
  • Better understand the links between regional and global scale processes, including implications of an ice-free summertime Arctic
  • Hold positive and pro-active local discussions of adaptation strategies while simultaneously supporting economic growth
  • Build “bridges to bridges,” linking emerging localized efforts at varying stages of coastal adaptation around the Gulf of Maine

Dynamic Partnerships

With extensive experience in multiple academic disciplines, public policy, and law, our faculty and professional research staff offer businesses and institutions based in both Maine and the North Atlantic with training, research, and services they need to be competitive in areas such as: regulatory compliance, risk management, regulatory advocacy, public policy leadership, and maritime and oceans law.

Maine-based Partnerships

  • Businesses
    • Alewife Harvesters of Maine
    • Allagash Brewing
    • Bigelow Brewing Co.
    • Bissell Brothers Brewing
    • Bristol Seafood
    • Eimskip
    • Maine Brewers Guild
    • Maine Ocean House Cluster
    • New England Ocean Cluster (NEOCH)
    • Rising Tide Brewing
    • Verrill Dana
    • Whole Oceans

  • Cultural and Non-Profit Organizations
    • Creative Portland
    • Maine Center for the Humanities
    • Maine Historical Society
    • Maine Humanities Council
    • Maine International Trade Center (MENADO)
    • Penobscot Marine Museum
    • Vinalhaven Historical Society

  • Educational Institutions and Research Centers
    • Bates College
    • Bowdoin College
    • K-12 public school districts
    • Maine Maritime Academy
    • Southern Maine Community College
    • St. Joseph's College
    • University of Maine Climate Change Institute
    • University of New England

  • Government Agencies
    • Maine Department of Environmental Protection

North Atlantic-based Partnerships

  • Businesses
    • Iceland Ocean Cluster
    • National Land Survey of Iceland
    • Nofence

  • Cultural and Media Organizations
    • The Journal of the North Atlantic and Arctic (JONAA)
    • The National Museum of Iceland
    • Reykjavik Museum of Photography

  • Educational Institutions and Research Centers
    • GeoCamp Iceland
    • The James Hutton Institute
    • Iceland University of the Arts
    • The Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research
    • Norwegian University of Life Sciences
    • Reykjavik University
    • Robert Gordon University
    • RURALIS Institute for Rural and Regional Research
    • Oslo University
    • University in Tromsø
    • University of Akureyri
    • University of Iceland

Benefits for our Students and for Maine

Through our North Atlantic Initiative, we are building our students’ cultural experience, developing a globally competent workforce, and advancing the state’s economy.

Students studying in our Honors Program have the opportunity to participate in scholarship-funded study abroad opportunities in Iceland.

In addition to expanding their global mindset and professional development, our students bring back skills to the Maine workforce: independence, adaptability, and leadership.

Learn more.

Our exchange programs with Iceland’s Reykjavik University and University of Akureyri, and Norway’s University in Tromsø, offer our students and faculty the opportunity to study and conduct research abroad.

In turn, we host students and faculty traveling from the educational institutions in the North Atlantic. This mutually beneficial partnership offers exponential opportunities for each of our cultures to learn and benefit from one another.

Some of the themes explored through exchanges include climate change, public health, public education systems, the seafood industry, and navigating regulatory challenges in an expanding business climate.

Exchange Highlight

Samstarf Initiative: The USM and Iceland Public Health Academic Collaboration

The Samstarf Initiative builds public health and healthcare capacity in the areas of workforce training, international health, health services research, and academic course development. After USM Public Health students conduct research in Iceland, and Icelandic public health students conduct research in Maine, our faculty will utilize their results to develop online learning opportunities.

Through our growing partnerships in Maine and in the North Atlantic region, our students engage in internships that allow them to build meaningful connections with the business community, engage with diverse perspectives and cultures, and gain valuable real-world experience. 

Internship Highlight

Experiential New England Ocean Cluster Collaboration

Our School of Business students are working collaboratively with both Maine-based and Icelandic entrepreneurs and business leaders to develop business plans, investigate retail distribution outlets, and address seafood industry challenges such as technology limitations.

Our faculty are engaging undergraduate and graduate students in research projects that equip them for success in the global marketplace through real-life experience in marketing, business communication, and entrepreneurialism.

The opportunities created by connections between Maine and the North Atlantic are integrated into our curriculum in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, tourism, and ethics and regulatory compliance.

Academic Programming Highlights

  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship: School of Business students are solving real problems in trade industries, such as microbrewing, fisheries, renewable energy, and tourism and hospitality.
  • Tourism & Hospitality: Our students are exploring each region’s shared sustainability issues, as well as the complexities of workforce shortages.
  • Ethics and Regulatory Compliance: Joint classes between the University of Maine School of Law and the Reykjavik School of Law examine issues such as trade, fisheries, energy, environmental regulations, and maritime security.

Explore More Information

  • The Maine North Atlantic Institute: The Institute addresses community needs such as cultivating a globally competent workforce, expanding market access, environmental and community health, facilitating cultural connections, and attracting capital investments. Learn More.
  • Maine-North Atlantic & Arctic Education Consortium: The University convened the Consortium to facilitate and promote educational and research collaborations related to the economies, societies, cultures, and environments of Maine, the North Atlantic, and the Arctic. Learn more.
  • View the USM-North Atlantic Region Strategic Framework.

Connect with Us

Contact us to learn more about how you, your business, or your organization, can benefit from the Maine North Atlantic Institute.