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Climate change in an international perspective: Science, Art, and Activism

2018 Arctic 391 Class
2018 Winter Quarter course, ARCTIC 391 class in session doing exercises and discussion.

March 19, 2018

Winter quarter is host to a unique elective for the Arctic minor—ARCTIC 391: Climate Change – An International Perspective: Science, Art, and Activism—a class that explores climate change and its implications for the people, landscape, and countries of the Arctic, mainly Canada, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries. Students from the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, the interdisciplinary Arctic Studies minor program, and University Honors Program are working to understand the social and environmental impacts of climate change through the lens of science, art, and activism as tools to communicate and motivate.

This interdisciplinary lens was highlighted by Brandon Ray’s recent guest lecture. Brandon has a master’s degree in Atmospheric Science and is completing joint master’s programs in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. Brandon’s thesis explores how non-states actors frame the Arctic renewable energy debate in Canada and the United States. His lecture on Arctic geopolitics and people gave the students an appreciation for the unique aspects and complexity of climate change in the Arctic.

Students are deepening their knowledge of the Arctic through group projects that explore how the eight Arctic nations and Indigenous people of the North are contributing to, being affected by, and working to mitigate climate change locally and internationally. As part of their projects, students also consider how literature, music, art, and activism are impacting the people and politics of the region.

The course culminates with students reflecting on their hope for the future Earth and the people who will inhabit it. In a letter to children two generations hence, students express their hopes for the world.

The course is taught by Robert Pavia, an affiliate faculty with the Center and the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs.

Arctic & International Relations is a Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies (JSIS)-wide initiative, led by the Canadian Studies Center since 2008, to address the Arctic as an emerging global region and actor on the world stage. JSIS and the Center are working in partnership with a parallel initiative, Future of Ice – a College of the Environment, College of Arts and Sciences, and Applied Physics Laboratory initiative – to enhance the University of Washington’s (UW) profile in research, education and public engagement about the polar regions.