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Updated: December 9, 2020

USM will work to boost Greenland tourism and Maine's ties to Arctic

Greenland mountains nature photo Courtesy / Mario Hagen, “There are few places that feel undiscovered in the world, but for many people, Greenland is one of those," said Tracy Michaud, an assistant professor at USM who chairs the school's hospitality and tourism program.

As part of its efforts to strengthen ties with the North Atlantic region, the University of Southern Maine has joined a transatlantic project to help Greenland prepare and shape its budding tourism industry.

The Arctic Education Alliance, unveiled on Monday, aims to build vocational education programs that support training in sustainable tourism, hospitality, and land and fisheries management in Greenland.  

Tracy Michaud, an assistant professor at USM who chairs the school's tourism and hospitality program, will work with experts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Greenland and the U.S. State Department on the initiative.

"The exemplary work of Dr. Michaud will strengthen our ties to the region, forge new connections with Greenland and create distinctive learning opportunities for University of Southern Maine students," USM President Glenn Cummings said in a statement emailed to Mainebiz.

"USM is fortunate to have respected experts who have been helping governments, educators and businesses in the Arctic while cultivating long-term dividends for our students and the people of Maine.” 

The move comes a little more than a year after USM's entry into the University of the Arctic, a cooperative network of over 200 international universities, colleges, research institutes and other organizations concerned with education and research about the region.

The Arctic Education Alliance is setting out to support the development of Greenland’s vocational education capacity in land and fisheries management, hospitality, sustainable tourism and vocational English. 

Specific plans include building a wide network of contacts and stakeholders in and around Greenland, identifying Greenland's needs for vocational education in the relevant fields, developing international exchanges of students and teachers and placing graduates in jobs.

The undertaking comes amid an extraordinary time for Greenland and its perception as an untouched part of the world, according to Michaud.

USM assistant professor Tracy Michaud at a podium
Courtesy / University of Southern Maine
Tracy Michaud, an assistant professor and chair of USM’s tourism and hospitality program, has joined experts from other institutions in the new Arctic Education Alliance.

“There are few places that feel undiscovered in the world, but for many people, Greenland is one of those,” she said in Monday's news release. “I think it is increasingly going to be a place that people are going to want to visit, especially as more and more people are looking for nature, space and fresh air. Maine’s done awfully well because of that brand."

She also predicted that places like Greenland and Iceland and the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic will do well after the pandemic, adding, "As cruise ships journey to Greenland and larger airplanes visit, it becomes a lot less scary to travel to a place like this.”

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