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Stefansson Memorial Lecture: Learning from the northern peoples

Leslie King

January 24, 2019

Leslie King, professor of environment and sustainability at Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia, provided this year’s Stefansson Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Scandinavian Studies, the Stefansson Institute for Arctic Studies in Akureyri, Iceland, the Institute for Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College, and the Canadian Studies Center.

Professor King reminded the audience that Arctic explorers sometimes credited their survival and exploration successes to the knowledge they gained from Indigenous people during their explorations. However, more often than not, the knowledge of Indigenous people has been overlooked both historically and today. Over the past one hundred years, researchers working in the North have often made the same mistake of discounting Indigenous and local knowledge. In many ways, climate researchers are like modern explorers, attempting to learn from the knowledge held by northern people. This Stefansson lecture introduced some of the emerging findings from King’s research that may help those of us in lower latitudes prepare for, respond to and survive dramatic changes in the social-ecological systems upon which we depend.

Professor King’s visit also brought together representatives from the sponsoring units to discuss the future of Arctic studies at the UW and possible collaborations.