Originally posted: December 2012
As part of the 92nd National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) annual conference, “Windows to the World,” a pre-conference clinic on the Arctic was provided to educators. “This is an area that few students know anything about yet is vitally important to the future of not only our country, but to the world,” said one participant. “By studying this topic, students can be involved with geography international relations, economics, and government.”
The Arctic is receiving increased attention as a result of climate change, natural resource exploitation, and sovereignty issues. The region has become one of the most dynamic international regions in the world argued by some to be the new center of world politics. Eight Arctic nation-states claim rights to the Arctic including Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Denmark (Greenland), Sweden, Norway, and Iceland. In addition, many non-Arctic nation-states are seeking entry into the Arctic Council. In 2013 Singapore, India, China, South Korea and possibly the European Union will submit applications to join the Arctic Council. In addition, six Arctic indigenous organizations have status as Permanent Participants on the Arctic Council marking the first time in history indigenous peoples and national states are working together to make decisions that will impact the circumpolar world and beyond. Governance over the region is complex and dynamic.
On Thursday, November 15th, sixteen educators representing eight states attended the clinic, “Who Owns the Arctic?” held in the Maple Leaf Room of the Consulate General of Canada, Seattle. Educators who attended the session gained an understanding of global change in the Arctic, Inuit contemporary views relating to identity and interdependence, self-determination, population dynamics, language, modernization, cultural transition, social problems, and environmental matters.
One participant noted, “Who Owns the Arctic?” is an important workshop that helped me think about the geopolitical effects on countries in relation to the problems and issues of the Arctic that many educators are totally unaware of … this workshop was critical in helping me understand the indigenous issues related to the Arctic.”
Nadine Fabbi, U.W. Canadian Studies Center offered an overview of the geopolitics and territorial claims in the region. Amy Sotherden, Center for the Study of Canada/Institute on Québec Studies, State University of New York College at Plattsburgh and Betsy Arntzen, Canadian-American Center, University of Maine discussed their recent trip to the Canadian Arctic. Tina Storer, Center for Canadian-American Studies, Western Washington University, provided a presentation and packet of educational resources on the region.
This event was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Centers on Canada including the Pacific Northwest National Resource Center on Canada (Canadian Studies Center, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies (JSIS), University of Washington and the Center for Canadian-American Studies, Western Washington University), the Northeast National Resource Centers on Canada (Center for the Study of Canada, State University of New York College at Plattsburgh and the Canadian-American Center, University of Maine); the eight U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Centers in JSIS (including Canadian Studies Center, Center for Global Studies, Center for West European Studies, East Asia Center, Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, Middle East Center, South Asia Center, and Southeast Asia Center); the East Asia Resource Center, JSIS; the Consul General of Canada, Seattle; and, the Government of Québec.