The Canadian Studies Center works with many local and international organizations to bring a greater understanding of Canada to the public. Last fall, the Center partnered again with the Lifetime Learning Center to offer a presentation on Canada’s role in the Arctic as part of an eight-week course titled “The Last Place on Earth: The Importance of the Arctic and Antarctic Regions.” This course covered the history, geopolitics, Indigenous leadership, and environmental challenges to the polar regions. The mission of the Lifetime Learning Center is to contribute to maintaining the social, cognitive, and physical well-being of adults. Participants are generally retired professionals who are active in their communities and local politics. Classes are organized by MaryLynne Evans, who has a master’s degree from UW and has spent time in both Antarctica and the Arctic.
During his presentation, former International Policy Institute Arctic Fellow Brandon Ray, who holds an MA in international studies from UW, provided a background on the geography of the Arctic; an overview of current political issues, including shipping and oil and gas extraction; a synopsis of the legal frameworks in the Arctic and how they apply to the desire to extend countries’ continental shelves; and an overview of the Arctic Council and national priorities in the Arctic. Mr. Ray also discussed differences between political and Indigenous geographies in Canada, the complicated status of the Northwest Passage, Canada’s role in founding the Arctic Council, as well as how Canada’s national Arctic policies informed its agenda while chair of the Arctic Council.
The Lifetime Learning Center is continuing its polar regions course this winter, and will host Canada Visiting Fulbright Chair in Arctic Studies Andrew Chater for two classes.