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SMA / SISRE 555 Comparative Marine Business in the North Pacific

November 30, 2008

by Vlad Kaczynski, Professor

Above: Professor Vlad Kaczynski (far left) and several of the students in the course SMA / SISRE 555: Comparative Marine Business in the North Pacific. From left, Ellis Moose, Jennifer Harkins, Anthony Kenne, Dawn Golden, Heather Lapin, Alisa Praskovich, and Jongseong Ryu.

Marine economic relations in the North Pacific among Canada, Japan, Russia, and the US contribute to growing international economic integration, enhanced commercial cooperation, and collaboration in finding positive resolutions to emerging ocean resource use problems in the northern seas and coastal regions. The Arctic Ocean is increasingly an integral part of such relations and adds to their complexity.

In recent years, the extraordinary retreat of Arctic sea ice has focused renewed attention on the Arctic Ocean as a potential waterway for marine operations, both coastal and regional, and on the possibility of trans-Arctic navigation. With the acceleration of climate change in the Arctic, there is a growing emphasis on studies of marine resources and shipping as they play a vital role in protecting strategic interests of the Arctic coastal states, including Canada, US, Russia, Norway, and Denmark. Each nation must now define and defend its sea borders or claims to sea bottom areas in the Arctic Ocean, including off-shore oil and gas deposits, waterways, coastal lands, islands, and other natural assets.

Recognizing the importance of the region in UW’s academic curriculum, the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies and the Canadian Studies Center in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, along with the School of Marine Affairs, launched a graduate research seminar entitled “Comparative Marine Business in the North Pacific” in 2005. The seminar discusses the increasing economic interdependence between countries, changing business opportunities, and strategies adopted by the North Pacific coastal states, and also responds to student demands for more business-oriented courses.

The seminar attracts students from fields as diverse as Political Science, Geography, Global Trade, Transportation and Logistics Studies, Marine Affairs, and Russian Studies. Students develop research skills and study Pacific and Arctic issues while taking into consideration the role of Canada, as well as Canada’s marine relations with the US and other countries.

During Fall Quarter 2008, Meaghan Brosnan, Marine Affairs, studied potential climate impacts on the accessibility of Arctic energy resources and on boundary issues between the US and Canada. Susan Albrecht, International Studies, researched the Canadian Port of Prince Rupert, arguing that transport from this small Canadian community via rail to the US Midwest and Chicago would be considerably shorter than from US ports. Ellis H. Moose and Alisa L. Praskovich, Marine Affairs, also discussed the competitive edge of the Port of Prince Rupert in comparison to other ports, including Yokohama (Japan), Vostochnyi (Russia), and Tacoma.

The course was a great success, offering UW students the opportunity to expand the scope of their research to encompass the Arctic region, as well as to consider Canada’s unique role in the dialogues and disputes over Arctic shipping routes.

Professor Vlad M. Kaczynski is with the School of Marine Affairs and the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, and is an Affiliated Faculty with the Canadian Studies Center. He specializes in comparative socio-economic and strategic studies of marine resource use and human activities in the ocean space. His specific interests have to do with polar issues, particularly with respect to changes taking place in the Arctic Ocean.