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Reflections from the evaluator of the SIS 495A Task Force on Arctic Governance

April 30, 2011

By Julie Gourley, U.S. Senior Arctic Official, Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs, U.S. Department of State and Expert Evaluator, Task Force

Above: Julia Gourley, (second from right, front), U.S. Senior Arctic Official, Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs, U.S. Department of State, poses with the Task Force class at the end of the Expert Evaluation.

On March 10, 2011, I served as the evaluator for the Task Force 2011 project entitled, “Melting Boundaries: Rethinking Arctic Governance.” The undergraduate participants in this project did an outstanding job with their research and policy recommendations. They clearly put a lot of work into their individual topics, and each student or group of students gave an excellent presentation.

The students exhibited creativity in developing their recommendations to governments. Some of the recommendations were very similar to policies the U.S. State Department has already pursued or is considering pursuing. Others were insightful and creative even if not practical (which they would not know without the full picture across government). It was clear from their work that they were intellectually interested in the subject and learned a lot from their research and their excursion to Canada where they met with a number of key players in Arctic policy both in Canada and the U.S.

The experience was also valuable for me. It is always good for government policymakers to be exposed to fresh thinking on key issues we handle on a daily basis. It is good to learn that college students are now studying the Arctic and thinking about policy for the region. An Arctic-focused program of study would hopefully encourage students to consider careers in the federal government, particularly in foreign policy. The government needs smart, energetic, creative thinkers to make the best policy for the United States, and foreign policy is not something most college undergraduate students think about for their future careers. This program at the Jackson School is very unique in that it targets undergraduate students – something very few American colleges and universities are doing to my knowledge.

The Task Force on Arctic Governance is a joint program between the Canadian and Global Studies Centers in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and part of the Canadian Studies Center and Makivik Corporation, Nunavik, Canada, Educational Initiative. The 2011 Ottawa Research Trip was sponsored by the Canadian and Global Studies Title VI grants, International Education Programs Service, U.S. Department of Education; Government of Canada; Hellmann Fund for Innovation and Excellence; Maxwell M. and Julia Fisher Endowment; International Studies Program Discretionary Fund; Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies; Wilburforce Foundation, Seattle; and Makivik Corporation.