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2011 Arctic Task Force alumni reflects on his Arctic studies experiences

Griffith Couser

June 1, 2016

During my five years in Europe, I still look back to my education, experiences, and teachers in the Jackson School to help me in many challenges that I face today. Whether it was living in Moldova and volunteering in a refugee center, enrolling in and finishing my master’s studies in Sweden, attending the COP21 as an event speaker, or leading a group of twelve students from ten different countries on a tall ship sailing through the Baltic Sea, it is my foundation in critical thinking, academic writing, research, and international studies that have helped me succeed.

The world is more interconnected, unpredictable, and in need of cooperative, innovative thinkers and doers than ever before. I would not have had the knowledge, the confidence, or the ambition to take that first step and fly from my study abroad in Amsterdam to the dusty streets of Chisinau if I had not already studied the area, learned the history, and found my passion of interacting with people from different countries, holding different ideas, and wrestling with different challenges. Even as I’ve lived in Europe, I have come back to Seattle several times for resources and inspiration. This was especially relevant as I wrote my master’s thesis on the Arctic, an echo of my Task Force project – something that has stuck with me to this day as one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve ever had, and something that continues to inform my research.

I would highly recommend to any student interested in other countries and cultures to scrape the money together and go experience them for yourself. The UW has a massive amount of connections and opportunities to go abroad, and if that is not enough, you’ll find that universities around the world welcome international students, and scholarships – not to mention friends – are easy to find.

Task Force is the capstone course for the International Studies major. The first Task Force on Arctic Canada was offered in 2009. The Winter 2011 Canada Task Force was entitled, “Melting Boundaries: Rethinking Arctic Governance” co-instructed by Vincent Gallucci, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and Nadine Fabbi, Canadian Studies Center.