The University of New England on Monday launched a new institute dedicated to education and research in the North Atlantic and Arctic regions.

The Institute for North Atlantic Studies of the University of New England, referred to as UNE North, will be based in Portland, officials said.

U.S. Sen. Angus King said the institute “further establish(es) our state as a leader in the Arctic region.”

“With a changing climate and myriad international interests in the region, the Arctic presents both great challenges and great potential for our collective future,” King said. “That’s why it’s so important we teach the next generation of leaders about the High North, so we can foster cooperation among nations, protect the environment, defend our national security interests, and ensure economic development is responsible and sustainable.”

The first students will be accepted this summer, with classes starting in the summer of 2019.

Among the inaugural programs at the institute is a one-year professional science master’s degree in Ocean Food Systems, created in partnership with two universities in Iceland, the University of Akureyri and Holar University College. Students would study in Maine, with online access to Akureyri and Holar faculty and a two-week residency in Iceland.

UNE officials said the institute would also have undergraduate, graduate and professional educational programs, and develop collaborative research and policy initiatives with other universities, governments, nongovernmental organizations, and businesses.

“The potential for collaboration in the North Atlantic region is endless,” said Barry Costa-Pierce, a professor of marine science at UNE and executive director of the institute. “UNE’s broad research and education strengths, combined with our entrepreneurial spirit and ability to execute, make us uniquely suited to shepherd partnerships needed to develop sustainable solutions to the region’s problems.”

Maine has increasingly played a role in Arctic studies and events, in part because of shipping connections to the North Atlantic and shared fisheries. In 2016, leaders of the Arctic Council met in Portland, the first time they had gathered in the United States outside of Alaska.

King is a co-founder of the bipartisan Senate Arctic Caucus with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. The caucus works to underscore the importance of the Arctic for the United States’ national security, economic viability and environmental leadership.

The institute is housed at 1075 Forest Ave., less than a half-mile from UNE’s Portland campus on Stevens Avenue.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: noelinmaine

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