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Island Affairs

Island Affairs
By Ilan Kelman with thanks to Michael Glantz for inspiration and support.

The current state of the Island Affairs proposal (79 kb in PDF) represents a summary of the categories to be covered, the plan for presentation, and other possible outputs.

Sunset over Twillingate island, Newfoundland.

Sunset over Twillingate island, Newfoundland.
(Copyright Ilan Kelman 2005.)

This proposal was first published as:

Kelman, I. 2004. "Island Affairs". Network Newsletter and ENSO Signal, vol. 19, no. 1, 1 January to 31 March 2004, p. 4 and Fragilecologies, 4 February 2004.

Islands are isolated but inspiring, small yet fascinating. Is one lifetime ever enough to explore an island? How could the collective knowledge of islands, islanders, and island topics be made available to everyone with an interest? The answer requires borrowing a concept proposed and implemented by Michael Glantz: "affairs."

The Glantzian notion of "affairs" refers to "commercial, professional, or public business" or a "matter, concern." Rather than pigeonhole and separate fields that must interact and cross over to solve problems, he creates a think-and-do space where anyone interested in a specific topic can contribute.

Thus, Climate Affairs is a book, workshops, educational programs, and Desert Affairs is an environmental education program and an international research, education and application center. The six subdivisions in each Affairs area are Science, Impacts, Policy and Law, Politics, Economics, and Ethics and Equity. But the goal is to join them rather than separate them. Anyone with interests in climate or deserts, irrespective of their training, professional background, or job finds a forum to interact with others.

Rather than staid labels such as "issues" or "topics," "affairs" galvanizes attention and forces inquiries. Once drawn in through "Climate Affairs," meteorologists can talk to water lawyers. Once drawn in through "Desert Affairs," farmers in arid regions can talk to international development philosophers. "Affairs" ventures beyond a collection of ideas or subjects and requires all aspects to be dealt with simultaneously and equitably.

The expected expansion is more "affairs" collectives. Not only for environmental phenomena beyond climate--Volcano Affairs, Evolution Affairs, and Pollution Affairs--but also for environmental types beyond deserts--Ocean Affairs, Mountain Affairs, Forest Affairs, and Space Affairs. Island Affairs emerges naturally.

Despite the difficulties of defining "islands" or "small islands," they can be intuitively understood as a relatively small land mass surrounded by water. Dozens of countries and territories are islands, while thousands more islands dot the globe. Due to their isolation and smallness, islands tends to have unique environments, people, cultures, and challenges. The power of islands to inform non-islands often remains unrealized.

The phrase "Island Affairs" is not new. Witness the International Journal of Island Affairs and New Zealand's Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs. Understanding islands in a comprehensive context occurs in James Lewis's Island Anthology and the International Centre for Island Studies.

But the six subdivisions of Climate Affairs and Desert Affairs form the core around which workshops, programs, a center, or a book could be developed, thereby giving Island Affairs the prominence and comprehensiveness deserved. Meanwhile, the opportunity would be provided for expanding into other fields, including History, Culture, Environments, and Sociology. We must not only be inspired by islands, but we must inspire others about islands.

Climate Affairs Program.

Climate Affairs Program.

Desert Affairs Program.

Climate Affairs and Desert Affairs.
Along with Island Affairs, Water Affairs and El Niño Affairs have been explored.

Other publications:

Kelman, I. 2006. "Island Affairs: Integrating Vulnerability into Sustainability for Isolated Locations". Poster at the Annual Hazards Research and Applications Workshop, Boulder, Colorado, USA, 9-12 July 2006, abstract (59 kb in PDF) and full text (293 kb in PDF).

Kelman, I. 2007. "Island Affairs". A Glantz @ Climate, Water, and Weather Affairs, April, p. 12, full text (97 kb in PDF).

Woman walking outside a church in St. Lucia.

St. Lucia.
(Copyright Ilan Kelman 1998.)

Contact Island Vulnerability.

The material on the Island Vulnerability website is provided as only an information source. Neither definitive advice nor recommendations are implied. Each person or organisation accessing the website is responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed and are strongly advised to verify all information. No liability will be accepted for loss or damage incurred as a result of using the material on this website. The appearance of external links on this website does not constitute endorsement of the organisations, information, products, or services contained on that external website.