​​​Over the winter, the editorial team was been hard at work to redesign, publish, and expand Outlands.

I spent my winter break skiing at Crested Butte, Colorado.  Nestled in the Rockies, I skied every day but also worked on the journal.  Whether skiing down the cold, windy slopes or curled up by a warm fire, Outlands was never far from my mind as the editorial team prepared to accept articles from students outside College of the Atlantic (COA) and offer subscriptions to the public.  

One day I even had the pleasure of meeting with political science professor Maria Struble at Western State Colorado University.  As I told her about COFA and Outlands, I could see the impact of COFA’s infectious energy—Professor Struble promised to tell her students all about the journal and offered to help COFA create a Model UN program in the future.  

The upcoming journal is exciting in several ways.  It has been redesigned by our new graphic designer, Maxim Lowe.  Maxim is a first-year student whom I am excited to have on the editorial team.  Another new face is Leah Kovitch, our co-editor.  Leah transferred to COA in 2014 and will take the reins as editor this summer.  But Outlands also has a new direction.  After conversations with editors and contributors, we decided that rather than taking  student work on any foreign affairs topic, as we previously did, we will ask students to answer a prompt.  The prompt for this journal is, “How can peace and stability be promoted amidst conflict and globalization?”

This journal includes a preface by University of Maine Professor Emeritus and COA Adjunct Faculty and Trustee Ron Beard, an interview with former U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows, a focus on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and articles on the war on terror and the Ayotzinapa students kidnapped in Mexico.

Outlands is made possible by student volunteer work, subscribers, and the college’s Student Activities Committee.  I am sincerely grateful to the college, COFA members, editors, contributors, and subscribers: without you Outlands would be at best a few scribbles on bits of paper.  

Ursa Beckford


Editor's Blog

Alba shows a group of children how to read a topographical map as I look   on; Huallanca, Peru  

On April 25, a devastating earthquake struck 50 km northwest of Kathmandu.​

I was alerted via email early that morning, and my thoughts have remained with Nepal and the Nepalese people.  I was relieved to hear that friends and their families were okay, but the death and destruction is vast.

Because I have Nepali friends, I was affected by the event.  Without a connection to the people and the place, though, I may not have felt deep compassion for the Nepalese people.  It is by building connections with other people and cultures, then, that we can build global community and compassion.  As the Nepalese people rebuild out of rubble, students in Bar Harbor will work to build the connections that make us all more compassionate, global citizens.

Artwork by Carly Sauro

​​​​From the living room of my B&B, I can hear the bustle of Huaraz, city of 100,000 and capital of the Ancash region of Peru. 

At 10,000 feet, Huaraz is nestled into the Cordillera Blanca, or white mountains, in the Peruvian Andes.  I am here on the “field trip” for my South American Earth Systems course, observing the landscape and how it has shaped—and been shaped by—human communities.

After spending two days in Lima, the capital of Peru, we drove up the coast to the small town of Supe.  The transition from the affluence I’d seen in Miraflores, Lima to the poverty in Supe was profound.  Although I do not speak Spanish and was only passing through, the change was clear.  

In Miraflores, buildings were freshly painted, gardens were flowering, and a sparkling underground mall was several minutes away. North of Lima, dwellings were packed close together, with rubble and garbage all around. 

As we drove east into the mountains, I witnessed yet another transition.  Driving through the Cordillera Blanca, I saw neither the affluence of Miraflores nor the poverty of Supe.  Surrounded by the high peaks of the Blanca, Peruvians appeared to live a simple lifestyle, tending to livestock and practicing subsistence agriculture.  As Padre Antonio Zavatarelli wrote in 2005 in the introduction to his picture book of the Cordillera Blanca, Around the Huascaran, “in this corner of the world one can still hear the last heartbeats of a very simple life—people who are tied to the land where they sow their crops and with which they live in harmony.”

Anthropologist Wade Davis said “there is no progression in the affairs of culture.”  I always took that quote as a critique of the concepts of “developed” and “developing” nations, that "there is no development in the affairs of countries."  When interpreted that way—at the national level—Peru 

seemed to challenge Davis and​ affirm the concept of development.  In the mountains, the twisting, potholed dirt roads and immature environmental management spoke of a country developing—however successfully—towards the infrastructure and governance I am accustom to in the global north.  But I think that interpretation of Davis is wrong.

After traveling through Peru, I have a new view of Davis' quote.  My revelation may seem obvious to you after reading his quote only once (I have now read it many times), but I believe he was referring to the cultural level, not the national level.  At the cultural level, I think Davis was right.      

On average, Peru has more poverty, weaker infrastructure, and poorer governance than what I know in Maine.  But people do not exist “on average.”  Maine also struggles with poverty, and my road in Clifton is much worse than many roads I drove in Peru.  Unlike countries, cultures cannot progress towards some obscure level of development.  Regardless of how much the “very simple life” Zavatarelli wrote of is changed by development and globalization, life in the Cordillera Blanca will always be distinctly different from life in Maine, different in ways their comparative Gross Domestic Product and Human Development Index will never capture.  Maine will always score better on national indicators that provide an insightful but limited “average” view of people’s lives.  At the cultural level, life can never be held in a number.    

May 5, 2015

Street art in Lima, Peru

June 16, 2015

Ursa Beckford '17, Editor

Community north of Lima

Summer 2015 Edition of Outlands; cover art by Eli McDonnell; graphic design by Maxim Lowe '18

Cordillera Blanca from Cordillera Negra, Peruvian Andes

March 20, 2015

Farmer with donkeys, Cordillera Negra