INS graduate, Social entrepreneur, writer and climate change champion recognised with university title

James Ellsmoor (27) one of the world’s leading voices on the sustainability of islands and renewable energy has been named as the University of the Highlands and Islands Alumnus of the Year.

James graduated in 2018 with an MLitt in island studies from the university’s Institute for Northern Studies at Orkney College UHI, having completed the course as a distance-learning student. This award is presented to a former student in celebration of their services to the community, achievements in arts or sciences, business or in public or academic life.

Whilst studying for his undergraduate degree, James co-founded Solar Head of State, a non-profit organisation that works with small island communities to promote solar energy. 

He is also the founder of Island Innovation, a social enterprise which runs the Virtual Island Summit. This established annual event attracts heads of island governments, academics, and industry from all over the world to unite in their drive for sustainability and prosperity for island communities by sharing ideas, good practices and solutions.  The event this year is expected to attract 10,000 island stakeholders from across the world and speakers include Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland’s Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands and Angus MacNeil MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

Dr Andrew Jennings, lecturer and programme leader for the MLitt island studies, said:

“James was also awarded the university’s postgraduate student of the year title in 2018, which he thoroughly deserved. He is an outstanding champion for island studies. He’s personable and innovative, using his expertise to help island communities worldwide face island challenges head on.”


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