University of Washington

ARCTIC 200 - level Indigenous Diplomacies & International Relations in the Arctic

3 credits | I&S Credit | MWF 3:30-4:20pm | THO 135 | SNL: 22642
Instructor: Nadine Fabbi 

Students meet with Arctic Colleagues

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The Arctic – home to 400,000 indigenous people – is emerging as one of the most dynamic regions in global geopolitics in no small part because of the role of Arctic indigenous peoples in international relations and sovereignty efforts. For arguably the first time in history, indigenous peoples are engaged in foreign policy and international politics on almost equal par with nation-states. For example, six Arctic indigenous organizations have claimed Permanent Participant status on the Arctic Council, a high-level intergovernmental body formed in 1996. This status gives Arctic peoples a legitimate voice in decision shaping and policy making for the region.

Indigenous self-determination is typically achieved as part of a decolonization process in which a particular group wins increased autonomy at the domestic level. However, what is occurring in the Arctic encompasses both domestic and international political engagement. This emerging phenomenon has not been given much attention nor is it well understood. Yet, Arctic indigenous peoples are shaping future international policies that have implications for the circumpolar world and beyond. Scholars now argue that the Arctic is a unique region where reform can take place. The Arctic is viewed by some as a potential laboratory for international collaboration and the site for meaningful engagement between nation-states and Arctic indigenous peoples.

This course will examine the characteristics of the Arctic as an emerging region in the world including the Arctic Council, the international and national Inuit associations, Arctic foreign policy, climate change, and issues of sovereignty and security from both nation-state and indigenous perspectives. The course will draw in policy studies, spatial analysis and customary international law to understand how Arctic indigenous peoples are furthering their voice and interests in the Arctic.

Students will gain insight into these developments by reading the speeches of Arctic leaders and scholars, analyzing the declarations and policies of nation-states and indigenous organizations, reading articles from major U.N. declarations, and via listening to key leaders and scholars on video recordings.

The goal of the course is to provide each student with an understanding of the Arctic as a distinct global region and with a foundation in the emerging developments in Arctic indigenous mobilization and sovereignty. The course will utilize Arctic indigenous maps, films, video clips, art and music to enhance understanding of the course content and to bring the Arctic indigenous voice, culture, sensibilities and philosophies to the classroom.

Each class will include a lecture, film or audio screening, and skills-based workshop.


Nadine C. Fabbi is the Associate Director of the Jackson School's Canadian Studies Center, Chair of the new UW minor in Arctic Studies, and UW Council Representative for University of the Arctic (UArctic). Nadine's research focuses on indigenous diplomacies and international relations in the Arctic. She taught the first ARCTIC courses offered at the UW (Future of Ice) and co-teaches the Task Force on the Arctic for the Jackson School. In addition, she has taught on Inuit history and political mobilization at the University of Alberta and the University Centre of the Westfjords, Ísafjörður, Iceland. Her recent publications include "Inuit foreign policy and international relations in the Arctic" (forthcoming, 2014) in the Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic, Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway; "Inuit Political Involvement in the Arctic" (2012) in the Arctic Yearbook 2012; “Geopolitics, Arctic Council, and Arctic Resources” (2012) with V. Gallucci and D. Hellmann, in Fishing People of the North: Cultures, Economies, and Management Responding to Change; and, "Inuktut Uqausiit (Inuit languages) in Canada," (2008) written for the Arctic Indigenous Languages Symposium.

Students meet with Arctic Colleagues

One of the key requirements for students in the ARCTIC 200 course in Fall 2014 was to make an appointment with and visit one of the Center’s Arctic Colleagues. Colleagues are on or off campus friends of the Center who are involved in the Arctic in some significant way. Below are pictures of students meeting with Arctic Colleagues. 

 Fall 2014 ARCTIC 200 students, Pierre Laury and Anna Deeter with Center's Arctic Colleague Harry Stern, Mathematician from UW's Polar Science Center.


Arctic & International Relations
Box 353650
Thomson Hall, Room 503
Seattle, WA 98195-3650
T (206) 221-6374
F (206) 685-0668
Vincent Gallucci, Chair
Nadine Fabbi, Associate Director
Monick Keo, Webmaster