THE west coast of Oregon in the United States and the east coast of Scotland may be 8000 miles apart, but they are cultural cousins in many ways, according to an international expert in coastal and maritime culture.

Dr Julie Brown, from Clatsop Community College in Oregon, is presenting present public lectures, hosting workshops and visiting local schools during her three-week trip around the Highlands.

Her trip, which started yesterday, was organised through the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Centre for History and is being supported by the Fulbright Specialist Programme.

Brown will stay in the university’s new student residences in Dornoch, which are located close to the Centre for History.

The academic will share her knowledge on a range of topics, including the importance of rivers in Chinook Indian culture, maritime crime in Oregon and attempts to preserve the culture of fishermen and women in the Pacific Northwest Coast and Alaska.

As well as having a planned itinerary of events, she is happy to take requests for further activities from groups, organisations and schools around the region.

Dr David Worthington, head of the Centre for History, who helped organise the visit, said: “Dr Brown has research, teaching and community engagement interests in coastal and maritime culture and literature of the sea.

“She has chosen to come here to work as closely as possible with local community groups and schools during her time in Dornoch.

“Her seminars, workshops and readings will provide fascinating insights into her work and will also make a great contribution to the centre’s research on coastal history. We’re looking forward very much to her visit.”

Brown added: “The west coast of Oregon may be 8000 miles away from the east coast of Scotland, but we are cultural cousins in so many ways: our love for nature and wildlife, our respect for ancient cultures and history and our ongoing celebration of the values these things shape.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to engage in conversations about the things we hold in common - tides and ships and salmon and ports - and to discover more about ourselves by learning what makes each culture unique.”