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Arctic Sovereignty Lecture Series

February 28, 2009

Above: Mikhail Alexseev, Political Science, San Diego State University, points out that within the next few years the Northern Sea Route that follows the Russian coastline (see background map), could be open for shipping. This would significantly reduce transportation costs and is one reason for the enhanced interest in the Arctic.

This Winter Quarter several programs teamed up to offer a lecture series that addressed Arctic sovereignty from the perspective of science, politics, history and international foreign policy serving approximately 250 faculty, staff and community members. Greg Shelton, Global Trade, Transportation and Logistics Studies, wrote the project grant for the series.

The Arctic Sovereignty lecture series provided new thinking on the circumpolar region from the perspective of science, politics, history and international foreign policy. It brought together a wide-range of audience interests and spurred much thinking on this fast emerging global issue.

The University’s own Christine Ingebritsen of Scandinavian Studies kicked off the series with her presentation entitled, “Arctic Sovereignty and Climate Change: A Nordic Perspective” that provided a special focus on Greenland and the November 2008 referendum on independence.

The following week, Barry Zellen, author, researcher, and lecturer from the Center for Contemporary Conflict, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, discussed the issues, challenges and opportunities associated with the modernizing Arctic. Zellen’s lecture entitled, “Toward a Post-Arctic World,” looked at the evolution of Inuit self-governance across Alaska, Canada and Greenland and the increased mobilization of indigenous peoples.

In late February, UW alumnus Mikhail Alexseev, Political Science, San Diego State University presented, “Russia’s Northward Perspective: The Arctic Promise vs. the Siberian Curse” that provided an innovative perspective on Russia’s long-standing interests in the Arctic. There was much discussion of the 2007 planting of the Russian flag at the sea bottom of the North Pole and how this was perceived internationally.

The final lecture, “Globalization and Climate Change: Challenges in the New Maritime Arctic,” by Lawson Brigham, US Arctic Research Commission, Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment dealt with the need for international collaboration on the “race” for Arctic resources.

The interdisciplinary nature of this series was noteworthy. Global Trade, Transportation and Logistics Studies and the Canadian Studies Center hope to foster such collaborative relationships in the future as we continue to recognize and celebrate the interconnectedness of a variety of academic areas. We were particularly pleased to broaden our network by working for the first time with the Polar Science Center and the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean.

The series was sponsored by the Canadian Studies Center (with support funding from a Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Program Enhancement Grant), Center for West European Studies, Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, Global Studies Center in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies; Global Trade, Transportation and Logistics Studies; Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory; and the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean.