Two of Saint Joseph’s own make the journey to Iceland to explore new opportunities for education and trade.
Q and A compiled by Ann Swardlick
In October 2015, Jean Maginnis, senior development director at Saint Joseph’s, and David Canarie, adjunct professor of business, traveled to Reykjavík, Iceland, for a meeting of the Arctic Circle Assembly, an international gathering designed to increase participation and global focus on the future of the Arctic in the face of climate change. As members of the Maine delegation, Maginnis and Canarie were among those invited to explore the emerging Maine–Arctic relationship, a partnership that could bring previously unanticipated economic opportunities to the state. After meeting with leaders at Reykjavík University, they returned to campus excited about potential collaborations. Here, Maginnis and Canarie answer questions about how the Arctic’s changing landscape could impact Saint Joseph’s future.
Q: Why all the excitement about the Arctic now? What’s going on?
Canarie: The melting of the polar ice caps has focused world attention on issues related to the opening of new North Atlantic shipping lanes and potential trade routes. As the gateway to the North Atlantic, Maine happens to be in the ideal strategic location. What’s more, Portland is now home to US operations for Iceland’s oldest shipping company, Eimskip, which regularly operates vessels between Portland and Reykjavík. With all of these factors lining up, I knew there would be an opportunity here for our students, so I and other business faculty began exploring the possibilities.
Maginnis: I was really excited to learn that, for the first time ever, the Arctic Council will hold its Senior Arctic Officials Meeting in Maine this coming October 4–6. This was thanks to the efforts of Maine Senator Angus King, co-chair of the Senate Arctic Caucus. I’ve always been passionate about the potential for growth in our state and the role Saint Joseph’s College can play. The Arctic Council meeting, which will focus on shipping, energy, climate change, and other issues, will give our students and faculty the chance to contribute to this exciting partnership opportunity for Maine.
Q: In what ways will Saint Joseph’s students and faculty be involved?
Canarie: From an academic perspective, we began looking at the economic implications of the opening of the Arctic in my seminar on global finance last spring. From there, the business faculty worked with Saint Joseph’s leadership team to develop several initiatives. These include the creation of the SJC Center for Arctic and North Atlantic Engagement—a virtual academic center that will be staffed and managed by students and will become a central resource for information related to business, trade, climate, culture, and other developments in the Arctic—and the Arctic Speaker Series. Jean and I kicked off this lecture series in February, and in September, we’re excited to host Tom Barry, the executive secretary for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF).
Maginnis: From an institutional perspective, this is an exciting time for Saint Joseph’s. The College has been asked to join the Maine-North Atlantic Education Consortium, which includes Bowdoin, University of Southern Maine, University of New England, and Maine Maritime Academy. This group will help provide programs that educate Maine people about the issues and opportunities associated with the North Atlantic–Arctic Circle.
Q: How does our focus on the Arctic advance the College’s mission?
Canarie: I think it aligns perfectly with the expressed mission of Saint Joseph’s College and the Sisters of Mercy. In addition to fostering a strong academic community, the College also encourages all students to explore widely the arts and sciences while they also prepare to live ethical and meaningful lives. Engaging in the Arctic develops a global perspective on a wide range of business, social, and scientific issues.
Maginnis: Saint Joseph’s has never been shy about taking on new and innovative ideas and developing ways to serve the community. We have been invited to join the Host Committee for the upcoming Arctic Council meeting, which will draw hundreds of leaders and experts from eight Arctic nations. This provides a rich opportunity for faculty and students, and elevates Maine’s position on the world stage. It has already increased awareness of Saint Joseph’s College and has created opportunities for our professors to exchange with Reykjavík University, which will ultimately lead to more options for students, as well. I believe engagement in the Arctic is a natural extension of Saint Joseph’s mission and a continuation of our history of innovation and outreach.