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University of Arctic Council Meeting – Spring 2008


April 1, 2008

I’m a junior in the General International Studies major at the Jackson School, the Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace and Security track. (I previously lived in Tel Aviv where I studied filmmaking.) Among other things, I’m interested in current developments in the Arctic, including related issues of progression of Arctic melt, territoriality and sovereignty, natural resources, transportation and development, security, circumpolar international relations and changes in international law.

In early June, as an Affiliated Undergraduate student with the Canadian Studies Center, I had the privilege to attend the University of the Arctic’s 11th Council meeting at the Circumpolar Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton. At the meetings UW was voted in as a member institution. Attending the meeting allowed me to meet representatives of many educational institutions from countries with arctic territories, and to get acquainted with the opportunities that membership in the organization will present to UW students. I was extremely impressed with the good will and eagerness to cooperate in the circumpolar academic community.

The conversations I had with experts and educational leaders were enlightening. I received technical information and educated opinions on the issues I’m directly interested in, and I also gained insight into the lives and concerns of those living in the Arctic. As a result, I now have a sense of how the global-scale issues that I’m interested in might affect those people living in the region, and a sense of how they might affect the international processes I’m researching.

Many school representatives were eager to form relationships with UW and its students. The welcoming invitations to visit their institutions or to do an exchange program (with promises of warm hospitality!) were quite enticing, and realizing which institute was involved in which area of study was great – it seems that membership in UArctic will open up many valuable opportunities for UW students who are interested in anything from scientific research, indigenous studies, European, Russian or Canadian studies, development, sovereignty, and self-rule issues, to new media education methods, cold climate technology, environmental management, language study, international cooperation and relations, etc. Like many UW students, I am looking forward to taking advantage of some of what UW membership in UArctic will offer.

By Naama Sheffer