Summer School: Islands as Laboratories for Sustainability

Spatial Analysis & Geovisualisation Research Group at the University of Iceland

Summer School: Islands as Laboratories for Sustainability

Mytilene at dusk

Summer School Programme

Islands as Laboratories for Sustainability: The case of Lesvos

Islands are special cases for Sustainable Development. Methodologically and scientifically, islands are ideal ‘laboratories’ for sustainable landscape stewardship. Islands are unique in both attractiveness and climate vulnerability, they are relatively isolated and ‘on their own’ compared to mainland areas, yet they are also more dependent and need to be well-connected to other areas more than mainland areas. The summer school is aimed at combining all these different perspectives.

The summer school focuses on the Mediterranean island of Lesvos which is home to what is known as Aristotle’s lagoon and has also been described as the birthplace of the science of biology; an island well-known for its unique biodiversity, a petrified forest and many scenic landscapes reflecting in its UNESCO Geopark status. The island is also the birthplace of great literary figures and has a very rich cultural history. It has also long been a popular tourism (and eco-tourism) destination. More recently it has been at the centre of global media attention as the crossing land of refugees’ flight to safety and key gateway to Europe.

Overall the central question of the summer school is: How to come to sustainable development amidst starkly different island dynamics? Students in this summer school are challenged to blend perspectives towards sustainability: to understand the current situation and to research possible sustainable futures building via a multi-disciplinary approach. Questions that will be considered and addressed include: How can an island like Lesvos (as a case study) move towards an ambitious and successful energy transition? How to combine conservation in core nature areas with development in the surrounding landscapes? How can the challenges and opportunities of the refugee crisis can be met in socially sustainable ways? What are the prospects for sustainable social and economic development?

The summer school programme will be held from 1-8 May 2022 on the Greek island of Lesvos. It is coordinated by the University of Groningen (NL) in collaboration with the University of the Aegean with further contributions from speakers of the University of Iceland, Northumbria University (UK), University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Uppsala University, Technical University of Crete and the Office of displaced designers.

Students at all levels of study (undergraduate to postgraduate) are welcome to apply. The summer school is equivalent to 3 ECTS which may be able to be recognised at a participant’s home university.

More details on the programme and the application procedure can be found at