Our Background 

With the help of Eimskip in Portland, the New England Ocean Cluster (NEOC), and the Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO), Maine has developed new and expanded trade, educational, and cultural relationships with several countries in the North Atlantic Region (i.e., Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Atlantic Canada).


Because of its proximity to the North Atlantic and Arctic countries, as well as its ports in Portland, Eastport, and Searsport, Maine is poised to become an international trade hub in the Northeast U.S. Maine’s research community is at the forefront of helping the world understand the dramatic environmental shifts coming to our state and the world due to climate change and sea level rise.


The University of Southern Maine (USM), along with the entire University of Maine System, has a long history of working with communities in response to the economic, health, and social needs of Maine’s citizens, businesses, industries, and communities. An important contribution USM makes to our state’s competitive advantage in the North Atlantic Region is through graduating students that:


  • Have a broader understanding of the world beyond their immediate environment


  • Recognize and appreciate a broad range of perspectives


  • Communicate effectively with people of varying nationalities, and ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds


  • Have skills that increase their employability in the global marketplace.

Our History

First Steps 2015-2019

Building on our partnerships with Eimskip, NEOCH, and MENADO, USM (with support and funding from MEIF@USM), began the North Atlantic Initiative in 2015. Since that time we have achieved significant success in supporting the growth of Maine’s economy and in helping our students prepare to live in a global, diverse, and interconnected world:

  • Entered into partnership agreements with Reykjavik University, the University of Akureyri, and, more recently with the University in Tromso, Norway. 

  • Convened the Maine North Atlantic Education Consortium to facilitate educational partnerships between Maine and the North Atlantic Region, and to further international learning opportunities for faculty and students, as well as education and programming around North Atlantic issues for students, scholars, and the public. 

  • Supported over 15 faculty- or professional staff-driven projects that involve student exchanges, internships, research, and co-academic programing in a variety of fields:

    • Tourism, innovation and entrepreneurship, public health, and ethics and regulatory compliance. 

  • Offered Honors Students the opportunity to gain an international experience during their first two years at USM through a generous gift from the estate of A. Carolla Haglund ’51​​

  • Joined The University of the Arctic (UArctic), a network of universities, colleges, research institutes and other organizations concerned with education and research in and about the North. UArctic's mobility program (north2north) provides opportunities for students to study in different parts of the North.

  • Provided five USM students the opportunity to join with 13 other students from Reykjavik University, the University of Akureyri, the University of Iceland, and Norway’s University of Tromsø to participate in a day-long Student Workshop and to attend the annual Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik.

A Look Ahead

Our Future

The Maine North Atlantic Institute

The Maine North Atlantic Institute intends to establish the University of Maine System as a leading US institution of higher education for advancing economic prosperity in Maine through collaboration with the North Atlantic Region.


With its history of success and demonstrated broad multidisciplinary scope, the USM Maine North Atlantic Institute will focus on addressing the following community needs:

1. Environmental & Community Health:


Helping communities understand climate change and how to mitigate and adapt to its impact on their environment and health.

2. Cultural Connections:


Connecting Maine to the Arctic and High North Atlantic Regions through faculty-student exchanges in cultural tourism, the arts and humanities, and multidisciplinary programs.

3. Economy & Law:


Supporting collaboration that connects organizations with educational services, public policy, and oceans and coastal law.

Through all our initiatives in these areas, we will concentrate on:

  • A globally competent workforce for Maine 

  • Preparing employees who can contribute to innovative solutions in a complex, multi-faceted global economy and community

  • Investments in Maine-North Atlantic ventures

  • Attracting capital investments to make Maine the national hub for economic activity in the North Atlantic Region


The Institute will leverage the talents, programs, and services of the University of Maine system and our partners in Maine and the North Atlantic as we pursue these outcomes:



  • More students graduate with global competence credentials that align with the skills employers involved in the North Atlantic region are looking for

  • More students are employed by Maine businesses involved in the North Atlantic region

  • More collaborations are forged between North Atlantic and Maine researchers


Business and Community

  • More Maine employers are able to conduct business in the North Atlantic

  • More Maine/North Atlantic research/technology transfer inform business, economic development, environmental and community health policies and strategies in Maine

  • More social and cultural connections develop between Maine and North Atlantic

  • More capital and equity is invested in Maine for economic opportunities related to the North Atlantic