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The first Harry Baglole Memorial Public Symposium in Island Studies was held recently at UPEI in Charlottetown.
“Measuring Quality of Life on Prince Edward Island” took place on Nov. 22 at the university’s Don and Marion McDougall Hall.
The principal speaker was Gwen Colman, who, in 1997, along with her husband, Ron, founded Genuine Progress Index (GPI) Atlantic, a pioneering research organization in creating new measures of well-being and progress. Colman discussed GPI’s work in collaborative development of well-being measures with communities in Bhutan, New Zealand, Thailand and Nova Scotia.
Recently, GPI has worked with a network of universities and NGOs in southeast Asia, developing a methodology for collaborative development of well-being measures at the community level. She spoke about recent work in two communities in Thailand and about previous work with the creation of community GPIs in two communities in Nova Scotia. Colman identified the elements for creating successful community partnerships to measure well-being and their resultant impact.
Colman was joined by panelists Jim Randall and Wendy MacDonald, who addressed the relevance of GPIs to the health and prosperity of this Island.
“Too often what we think constitutes quality of life is divorced from the everyday lives of people,” said Randall, UNESCO chairman in island studies and sustainability, chairman of the Institute of Island Studies and co-ordinator of the master of arts in island studies program at UPEI.
“By asking people how they feel about themselves, their neighbourhoods and their communities, we can start to get a better picture of islanders’ values, hopes and dreams and whether these are being fulfilled.”
MacDonald worked in a range of policy and management roles in the provincial government before establishing her own consulting firm in 1998. In 2008, MacDonald rejoined the provincial government and in 2010 was appointed clerk assistant. She has worked on various policy projects including kindergarten, early childhood, education governance and poverty reduction. As secretary to the cabinet committee on priorities, she works to support the cabinet decision-making processes and to strengthen policy capacity in government.
The symposium was chaired by Andrew Lush, a member of the Institute of Island Studies advisory committee.
The symposium series is being renamed in honour of Baglole, the Institute of Island Studies’ first director, who died in May. Baglole was the architect of many public symposia over the years, born out of his passionate vision for strong, P.E.I.-made public policy frameworks.