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The Arctic Governance Task Force at the Canadian Embassy, Washington, D.C.

May 31, 2011

Above: Scott Halliday and Kelsey Barrett ham it up at the Task Force celebration dinner at the University of Washington in March.

by Scott Halliday, Co-Editor, Task Force on Arctic Governance

As a mere undergraduate student in the International Studies major at the UW, I savor any opportunity to travel outside of Seattle. During week six of the quarter, I would normally be engaged in studying for midterms, writing papers, and being in the midst of another typical, but jam-packed quarter, but from May 4th to May 8th, I had the privilege of being able to travel to Washington D.C. to make a presentation on behalf of the Jackson School of International Studies about my senior capstone project called Task Force. Task Force is a class required for all undergraduate International Studies majors, where a group of students research a timely issue in international affairs and then publish a report with recommendations for an expert evaluator. I enrolled in the task force on Arctic governance. “Melting Boundaries: Rethinking Arctic Governance” was the name of the report that culminated from the research of 14 UW undergraduate students in the Jackson School and 2 Inuit students from Nunavik, the Inuit region in northern Québec. My fellow co-editor Kelsey Barrett and I presented the research and experiences of our team at the Canadian Embassy in D.C. Bolstered by a coalition of Jackson school faculty and staff, we had the honor of speaking in front of a group of academics, policy advisors, government officials, fellow UW alumni, and even decorated officers of the Canadian military.

It did not hit me to until I returned to Seattle, but what struck me as the most impressive part of the presentation in DC was how well attended the event was. There were over 100 guests, who took time out of their busy lives to come hear about the findings of our report, not because they were doing it as an assignment for a class or because a professor was giving them extra credit, but because the report that we published was informative, current, and impressive. This is a tribute to the outstanding research and analytical writing performed by the students of the class as well as their excellent recommendations. Being in such a cosmopolitan city as Washington DC which moves to the beat of its politicians and their agendas, it was very gratifying to know that our report and our work was being heard and considered by the foremost policymakers on Arctic affairs. Simply being in Washington DC and trying to grapple with the convergence of government politicians, international and domestic policymakers, and influential scholars was an eye-opening experience and one that I did not fully comprehend in Seattle.

As such, the trip and time I spent in Washington DC will stay with me for the rest of my life. I had the opportunity to engage with my professors in an academic and business-like environment outside of Seattle, where I gained a sense of context about the significance of both my task force and of the Jackson School of International Studies. Outside of my time spent presenting the report, I had the pleasure of some light sight-seeing around DC, connecting with close friends, and enjoying the company of some inspirational faculty members. I will never forget these fun times and sharing the work of my task force team in our nation’s capital!

The 2011 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 Ottawa Research Trip is 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.

For more information on the Task Force on Arctic Governance see the course website at: