Kristen Olson just graduated with an undergraduate degree in International Studies. She was part of the Winter Quarter Task Force on Arctic Sovereignty and wrote her chapter on Russia’s involvement in the Arctic. Kristen just left Seattle to serve with Teach for America.
The Twelfth Annual UW Undergraduate Student Symposium is an opportunity for undergraduates to showcase exciting fields of research to fellow students, UW faculty, and community members. Presenting my group’s Task Force research at the 2009 Symposium was an unforgettable academic experience.
During winter quarter I had the privilege of working with a dynamic group of thirteen peers under the mentorship of two outstanding faculty members to produce a Task Force on Arctic Sovereignty and Governance. Task Force is a senior capstone project for students at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies where students work in an intensive group setting to produce a 200-300 page set of policy recommendations regarding pressing real world problems.
Our Task Force focused on the future of circumpolar relations among state and non-state actors in the Arctic, and contained extensive chapter analyses of environmental, legal, state, and indigenous concerns in the rapidly changing Arctic. For instance, one of the report’s chapters explored the tensions among and cooperation between the US and Canada over the Northwest Passage.
The primary reason our team wanted to present at the symposium was because of our exciting research expedition to Ottawa, where our team had unparalleled access to leading scientists, diplomats, Inuit leaders, and international lawyers expert in Arctic affairs. Our presentation at the symposium focused on our Ottawa insights, the catalysts for researching Arctic affairs such as climate change, an overview of the key state and non-state stakeholders, and examples of current hot-button issues such as Russia’s continental shelf claim.
As the coordinator of our group’s symposium presentation, author of the Russia chapter for our Task Force, and a graduating senior from the UW, I can say with confidence on behalf of my team that the symposium and Task Force experiences will propel all group members towards greater success academically and professionally.
The Task Force on Arctic Sovereignty and research trip to Ottawa was supported, in part, by funding from the Center’s Program Enhancement Grant, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and Title VI grant, US Department of Education, Office of International Education and Graduate Program Services.
By Kristen Olsen