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Announcing: ISLANDS - the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master connecting the Netherlands, Greece, Iceland and Spain

23 December 2021

The University of Groningen (the Netherlands), the University of the Aegean (Greece), the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain) and the University of Iceland jointly announce the new Erasmus+ Mundus Joint Master Degree Programme in Islands and Sustainability (acronym: ISLANDS). This partnership of four European universities (led and co-ordinated by the Faculty of Spatial Sciences of the University of Groningen) was selected under Erasmus+ to provide funding (3,6 million euros) for the implementation of the programme, including scholarships.

Islands are special cases for Sustainable Development. Within the current global economic and social system islands in many cases face economic, social, political and cultural marginalization; unless they cooperate. Cooperation is needed in research and education on the ways to manage islands and raise capacity building in island communities. Understanding the problems and finding effective ways to develop the potential of small islands requires international academic cooperation that looks beyond the specifics of individual islands. There is clearly a demand for a high quality Masters programme on sustainable development on islands that can enhance much required training and expertise in this field. This is why the University of Groningen , the University of the Aegean , the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Iceland have joined forces to launch a high-level integrated study programme on islands at Master level, as outlined below.


The ISLANDS programme combines thorough training in scientific research with a thematic specialization on Islands and Sustainability. It also provides multi-faceted training of research skills for social science and environmental research, including Individual Research Training by senior staff and training to work in a multi- and interdisciplinary research group.  It also involves taking a series of qualitative, quantitative and multi-method courses, as well as, courses on Scientific Reading, Debating and Reflecting, Scientific English Writing and Research Process.  ISLANDS students will be required to study at the University of Groningen in the first semester and the first half of the second semester of the first year of the programme. During the second half of the second semester of the first year they study at one of the island-based universities of the consortium where they undertake a Research Internship Module. Then, they return to Groningen for the first semester of their second year before going again to an island-based university to undertake their Master thesis project in the second semester of the second year. ISLANDS graduates receive a double-degree from the University of Groningen (including an acknowledgement that this is an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master degree involving all partner universities) and the island-based University in which the graduate spends the second half of the second year of their studies and the second half of the second semester of the first year. The ISLANDS programme is also supported by six associated partners comprising academic institutions, a research institute, an SME and NGOs (including Geoparks in Iceland and on Lesvos).

The ISLANDS programme builds on the existing Research Master in Spatial Sciences programme at the University of Groningen, and in particular on the track Islands and Sustainability .


We anticipate that more details on the ISLANDS programme and the call for applications (subject to formal approval and completion of the grant agreement with the European Commission) will be posted (by the end of January/early February 2022) on a dedicated website (see below). Scholarships from the EU will be available for on average 15 students every year, with students being invited to apply for the programme and associated grants. The grant covers the tuition fee, and also provides a travel and living allowance. The call for applications will be open in January 2022 and the estimated deadline for applications will be on March 15, 2022. More information will soon appear on the ISLANDS website:

More information

This new international master programme is led and coordinated by Prof Dimitris Ballas from the University of Groningen, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, working closely together with Dr Frans Sijtsma (who is the Director of the Faculty’s very successful and award-winning Research Master programme upon which the new Erasmus Mundus programme is built) and colleagues at the partner universities (in Greece, Spain and Iceland): Prof Thanasis Kizos , Dr Rodrigo Riera and Prof Benjamin Hennig . The programme builds on long-standing discussions and collaboration between partners (including their recent efforts resulting in a new summer school series on Islands as Laboratories for Sustainability ).

Last modified:11 March 2024 2.33 p.m.

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