Co-Designing Civic Education for the Circumpolar North

This project, Co-Designing Civic Education for the Circumpolar North, will launch collaborative research to produce a model for developing and teaching civic education for the circumpolar North. As a longstanding cornerstone of democracy, civic education provides students with knowledge and skills to effectively participate in the political decision-making processes necessary to respond to today’s most pressing challenges. In collaboration with numerous Arctic partners, this project seeks to co-design civic education for the unique context of the North in order to meet the growing needs of new Arctic studies programs. This project will provide those programs with a model upon which to base design and delivery of civic education, thereby shaping the relationship that countless future students have to the circumpolar North and that the North has to the world.

This project is part of the National Science Foundation program Navigating the New Arctic (NNA). NNA embodies an important forward-looking response by the Foundation to profound challenges in the Arctic as a result of warming temperatures. The planning project was awarded $300,000 (2021-2023) to: 1) identify key elements of what should define Arctic civic education; 2) determine how educational programs can be developed with an Arctic-centered approach; and, 3) explore how distance education can be designed and implemented to connect students from Arctic and non-Arctic regions.

Project Report #1 (June 2022) Project Report #2 (November 2022)
Press Release(9/8/21)
Award Abstract #2127156

Principal Investigators

Jason Young is a Senior Research Scientist with the Technology & Social Change (TASCHA) Group and a Research Fellow at the Center for an Informed Public (CIP) within the UW Information School. He has over a decade of experience studying the use of technologies by Indigenous peoples to engage in environmental politics and cultural regeneration. Working in Nunavut, Canada, his prior NSF-funded research explored how Inuit use technology to increase inclusion of Inuit Qaujimaningit, or Inuit knowledge, in environmental decision-making processes. During this time, Young was also a five-time recipient of the Department of Education’s Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship to study Inuit language and culture. More recently, he has been funded by the NSF NNA Program to conduct research into the potential of community-owned telecommunications systems to support the goals of Inuvialuit communities. This work is directly applicable to this project, in speaking both to the knowledge politics intrinsic to education in the Arctic and to the digital divides that shape educational solutions. Young designed and teaches the UW’s introductory course to the Arctic minor, Indigenous Diplomacies and International Relations in the Arctic, which is also open to UArctic students. He leads the UW Arctic scholarship-to-policy initiative, which encourages students to translate knowledge from coursework into actionable policy proposals. Finally, for the past seven years Young has been the head coach of a policy debate team at Garfield High School, an urban public school in Seattle. He collaborates with high school educators to teach students how to debate about current events and public policy. This provides him with additional experience in working with youth on civic education.

Nadine Fabbi is the Managing Director of the Canadian Studies Center/Arctic and International Relations in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the UW and co-lead, with Koutnik, of the Arctic Initiative, part of the International Policy Institute (IPI) in the Jackson School. Her doctorate is in Educational Leadership and Policy in the Faculty of Educational Studies from the University of British Columbia. Fabbi has played a lead role in building an Arctic initiative at the UW. She designed and teaches Transnational Task Force on the Arctic, a capstone for majors in International Studies that takes students to Ottawa for an intensive one-week research trip; introduced the teaching of the Inuit language to the U.S. Department of Education’s FLAS fellowships program; spearheaded the development of the Arctic Studies minor at the UW, the first such minor in the contiguous states, as well as the UW’s Fulbright Canada Visiting Chair in Arctic Studies; developed and oversaw the Arctic Fellows Program supported by a Carnegie Corporation of New York grant (2016-20); and, founded Arctic and International Relations, a journal dedicated to policy options and enhancing the voices of Arctic peoples. Fabbi is now bringing the World Policy Institute’s Arctic in Context blog to the UW. Fabbi’s interests include how we understand the Arctic as a unique region in the field of area and international studies and what this means in higher education; how Arctic Indigenous internationalism is influencing international relations and regimes such as the Arctic Council; and how policy and activism in Arctic policies are reshaping how we think about international relations and social justice. Fabbi serves on the editorial board of the American Review of Canadian Studies and on the Academic Leadership Team for UArctic.

Michelle Koutnik is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences in the UW College of the Environment. She is a glaciologist with research programs that span studying the dynamics of glacier change, Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheet history, the relationship between climate and ice-sheet evolution, as well as the history of ice on Mars. Her research includes numerical modeling and field work in Greenland, Antarctica, Iceland, and on mountain glaciers to collect geophysical data and ice cores; she has conducted polar field work since 2004 and has worked as part of multiple international teams. Engaging across disciplines is central to her research, and to her teaching. She is the co-lead, with Fabbi, of the IPI Arctic Initiative at UW. Most relevant to this proposal is her drive to teach interdisciplinary courses that bring together the science and the societal impact of environmental change (Koutnik et al., 2020), and bring together students from across the UW campus. She developed and taught an introductory course on sea-level change, she co-taught a UW ‘Task Force’ course (with Fabbi) on Arctic sea ice and policy, and she taught a Calderwood seminar in public writing on ice and climate change (2021 and planned for 2022). In addition, Koutnik created and leads an Exploration Seminar course on ice and climate change for 15 undergraduate students that includes 2.5 weeks of travel in Greenland and 1.5 weeks in Denmark (2008, 2018, and planned for 2022-2024), engaging with individuals and institutions in the community, education, research, and government sectors.


Dr. Elaine Alvey is an Assistant Professor and Director of Teacher Education at Alaska Pacific University where she supports future educators as they develop place-based and culturally sustaining teaching practices responsive to the dynamic needs of the circumpolar north. A former classroom teacher, she continues to be inspired by the visionary creativity of young people. She has an active research agenda that centers on ideas of place, ecological crisis, controversy, and civics education, particularly as they unfold in the work of teachers and in teacher education spaces. Some of her most recent work at Alaska Pacific University has included the development of place-based teacher education courses honoring Indigenous knowledge which will be delivered in Alaska Native language to cultural experts seeking
formal teacher certification. She has extensive experience in place-based civics curriculum development and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in Educational Theory and Practice.

Elena Serebryanik Bell is a PhD candidate at the Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. Her research focuses on Indigenous film as a self–representation, communication, and educational tool. She conducts this examination of the Indigenous cinematic boom that developed simultaneously and independently in two Arctic sub–regions – Sakha Republic (Russia) and Nunavut (Canada). Elena conducts her research in Russian and English. As a FLAS fellow, she uses a unique opportunity to study Inuktitut language to add depth to her Arctic Region research. Elena’s professional engagement in the U.S. Public Diplomacy programs (U.S. DoS IVLP), as well as her University of Washington academic course work, helped her gain knowledge necessary to balance her two–country comparative analysis. She works on curriculum translation/adaptation for the Portland Public Schools Dual Language Immersion Program (Portland, OR.) Elena’s work has been published in the U.S. in the World Policy Institute’s Arctic in Context blog, as well as in Russia by AIRO XXI (Association of the Russian Society of Researchers).
Mia Bennett is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography. As a political geographer with geospatial skills, through fieldwork and remote sensing, she researches the geopolitics of development in northern frontiers, namely the Arctic, Russian Far East, and along the more remote corridors of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. She has conducted fieldwork along the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway in Canada’s Northwest Territories and is particularly interested in the role of Indigenous Peoples in leading infrastructure development in the North American Arctic. Mia received a Ph.D. in Geography from UCLA, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and a Master’s in Philosophy in Polar Studies from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Scholar. She has published extensively in both peer-reviewed journals and popular publications and edits a long-running blog on the Arctic at

Victoria Qutuuq Buschman (Iñupiaq) is a conservation biologist originally from northern Alaska now residing permanently in Nuuk, Greenland. Her role in research is to challenge the colonial legacy of conservation and instead promote partnerships with Indigenous communities, knowledge, and governance to develop ethically conscious, culturally-relevant, and fully knowledge-based conservation efforts in the Arctic. In part, she serves as the Indigenous Knowledge and Conservation Advisor for the Arctic Education Alliance, an educational partnership between the U.S. and Greenland that focuses on developing curriculum and programming in natural resource management, tourism, and hospitality. She also serves as a consultant and by-request representative for the Inuit Circumpolar Council, where she works on the project “Ethical and Equitable Engagement Synthesis Report: A collection of Inuit rules, guidelines, protocols, and values for the engagement of Inuit Communities and Indigenous Knowledge from Across Inuit Nunaat.”

Elena I. Campbell is an Associate Professor of Imperial Russian history at the Department of History and Interim Director of the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. Her research and teaching interests focus on empire, nationalism, social memory, environment, Russia, and the Circumpolar North. Elena is currently working on a new book project which explores Russia’s northward turn during the late tsarist period. Her most recent and relevant to the project activity includes the development and teaching of a new undergraduate course, Arctic Histories. She also serves as UW co-representative, with Nadine Fabbi, at the UArctic (international network of universities and other institutions concerned with education and research in and about the Circumpolar North).

Dr. Micheal Hawes is a political science professor and academic administrator whose research focuses on Canadian foreign policy, public diplomacy, and international education. He is President and Chief Executive Officer at the Foundation for Educational Exchange between Canada and the US (Fulbright Canada). His most recent books include Canada’s Public Diplomacy (2020) and Canadian Foreign Policy in a Unipolar World (2018). Hawes is co-founder of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative, which supports research and scholarship on health and human wellness, energy and security, and climate change in the Arctic. He is also the founder of Honouring Nations Canada, a pan-Canadian research initiative designed to support scholarship on Indigenous issues and support traditional ways of knowing. Hawes sits on a number of editorial boards of academic journals. He also works with the Government of Canada and the Canadian Foreign Service Institute to train diplomats.

Bree Kessler (she/her) is a community organizer, researcher, and educator who includes creative practice in her work. As an academic, Bree specializes in applied research and participatory processes. Her research has examine gendered experiences of climate change in Honduras, the redesign of public markets in New York City, everyday resistances of workers in Nike’s contract factories in Thailand, health education materials for sex workers in India, how the reality TV is used to promote neoliberal politics, and do-it-yourself urbanism in the Circumpolar North. As an educator, she has taught courses in equity-centered research methodologies, environmental justice, public health, urban studies, and gender studies at universities around the country and as traveling faculty with the School for International Training program in “Health, Culture, and Community.” As faculty in public health and civic engagement at University of Alaska Anchorage, Bree initiated the “Urban in Alaska” movement. For her efforts in creating partnerships and co-facilitating design interventions into public spaces, she earned the university-wide community builder award. Her writing on topics such as culinary justice, national parks, and pop culture have appeared in publications such as Alaska, Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture, Gastro Obscura, and Eater. She is the author of the travel guidebook Moon: Big Island of Hawaii and The New York Times featured her family’s life above the Arctic Circle in “52 Places We Love in 2021.” She completed her MPhil in psychology from The Graduate School of the City University of New York and is a very long-time PhD candidate in the field of Environmental Psychology, the study of the interaction between humans and their environments. From the University of Michigan, she received a MSW in community organization, a MPH in health education, a MS in natural resource management, and a BA in religion. She also completed a certificate in online instructional design.

Jodie Lane (Inuit) is the Director of Education with the Nunatsiavut Government Department of Education & Economic Development. She has spent her career in the field of education and has worked with students to prepare for post-secondary studies and pursue academic goals. She sits on national committees on education including the National Inuit Committee on Education and helped develop the National Strategy on Inuit Education (2011). Her current interests involve infusing more Inuit language and culture into the K-12 curriculum and increasing the number of Inuit teachers in Nunatsiavut (the Inuit region in Newfoundland and Labrador). She was the Nunatsiavut Government lead on the development of the Labrador Inuit Society and Culture course and the creation of the InukKutivut IlukKusivut Our People, Our Culture textbook and teacher resource, with plans to expand course and curriculum development into other subject areas. Lane has a master’s in Education from Mount Saint Vincent University.

Dr. Liza Mack (Unangax/Aleut) serves as the Executive Director of the Aleut International Association, one of the six Permanent Participants to the Arctic Council. She is Unangax, born and raised in the Aleutians and has over 20 years experience working in and around Native organizations and communities. Mack received her Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) where her research focused on political ecology, natural resource management, knowledge transfer and engagement of Native communities in the regulatory process and how that may or may not affect the Native Cultures of Alaska. She has an AA in Liberal Arts from UAS Sitka, a BA and MS in Anthropology from Idaho State University and has been an adjunct professor at UAF, teaching Native Cultures of Alaska and Intro to Unangam Tunuu. She focuses on cultural revitalization and community involvement in the regulatory process. She possesses knowledge of Alaska Native Cultures and is familiar with the local, regional, state, federal and international board processes that take place in Alaska and the Circumpolar North. She values the importance of engaging Native people in these settings.

Andy Meyer is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Norwegian in the Scandinavian Studies Department at the University of Washington, where he teaches primarily Norwegian language courses and a course on the literature of the Arctic. His teaching and research background are in American literature, with an emphasis on ecocriticism, poetry and poetics, literature of the North American West, and, more recently, Arctic studies. Much of his work is engaged in questions about the relationship between literary imagination and “wildness,” questions that have drawn him toward the American, Canadian, and Scandinavian North. In 2015-2016 he was a Fulbright Roving Scholar in Norway, where he traveled the length of the country giving workshops and lectures in 61 schools on the mainland and in Svalbard.

Dr. Andrew Nestingen is a professor of Scandinavian Studies and Department Chair in Scandinavian Studies at the UW. He is the author or editor of many articles and five books, including most recently Nordic Noir, Adaptation, Appropriation (2020), co-edited with Linda Badley and Jaakko Seppälä. His research and teaching include Sámi studies. He has written and taught about Sámi cinema and literature. The Department of Scandinavian studies under his leadership is seeking to develop Sámi studies as a part of its research and teaching, and connected to Arctic studies at the UW.


Dr. Heather Nicol is the Director of the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University. Her research focuses on dynamics that structure the political geography of the circumpolar North, including cross-border relations and geopolitical narratives. She leads the UArctic circumpolar studies collaboration in North America and is a co-director of the Laera Institute for Circumpolar Studies. She is also co-ordinator of the Trent Online Circumpolar Studies Diploma; and is actively involved with UArctic educational and research initiatives. Nicol has completed multi-year studies on the Arctic and UN Sustainable Development Goals (in partnership with the University of Saskatchewan and Polar Research and Policy Initiative); led the Arctic component of the Borders in Globalization research program (with University of Victoria); has been a Fulbright Fellow in the University of Washington Arctic Studies program working specifically on the Arctic Council and the author of numerous books and articles.

Dr. Timothy J. Pasch is Associate Professor of Communication at The University of North Dakota and principal investigator for NSF Arctic Social Sciences initiative (Grant 1758781) focused on digitally enhanced cultural entrepreneurship and small business development in remote Arctic communities. Pasch is a dual US/Canadian citizen fluent in French and Japanese with some Inuktitut language ability. Pasch has received research support from the US NSF, US Department of Education Title VI (FLAS), and from the Government of Canada’s Embassy and Program Support Grants. He lived with an Inuit family in Inukjuak, Nunavik (Arctic Québec) during his doctoral dissertation research and has worked in Arviat, in the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut, and in the Tanana Region of Central Alaska on multiple community-based digital research initiatives. Pasch is active in the Arctic Social Science community through collaborations with the NSF Arctic Data Center and IARPC. His currently funded research addresses cyberinfrastructural and curricular barriers for enhancing sustainable, culturally aligned economic development education in remote regions of Nunavut and Alaska.

Dr. Anthony Speca, Managing Principal of Polar Aspect, is an educator who designs and runs the world’s only Model Arctic Council (MAC) programmes for secondary-school pupils. He also designs and runs in-person and online MACs for university students, particularly undergraduates. Speca combines this innovative educational work with appointments to Trent University in Canada, where he is Adjunct Professor of Canadian Studies, and to Norwich School in the UK, where he teaches Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Geography. He also serves as Managing Director of the Læra Institute for Circumpolar Education, a part of the international University of the Arctic. Prior to becoming an educator, Anthony was a senior policy official with the Government of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic.

Tia Tidwell is an Assistant Professor of DANSRD. She belongs to the Nunamiut people of Anaktuvuk Pass and currently resides in Fairbanks. Tia holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her research focuses on the intersection of settler colonial studies, Arctic literature, and Indigenous counter-narratives. Tia is especially interested in adapting settler colonial theoretical frameworks to examine settler fantasies about land and belonging in contemporary literature.


Dr. Gary N. Wilson is a Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Coordinator of the Northern Studies Program at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Canada. He is also the Co-Director of the University of the Arctic’s Laera Institute for Circumpolar Education and the former President of the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS). He has been involved in Arctic education since the early 2000s, as an instructor, curriculum developer and administrator. He also co-developed the Master’s of International Northern Development (MIND) program, a joint program of study between UNBC and Nord University in Bodø, Norway. His research and teaching focus on politics and governance in the circumpolar north.

Research Assistant

Kayla Stevenson is a graduate student at the UW and is serving as a Research Assistant for this project. She is studying at the School of Marine and Environment Affairs and the Jackson School for International Studies. She received her Bachelor’s in Politics and Government and Environmental Policy and Decision Making from the University of Puget Sound. Her research interests include international relations in the Arctic, Indigenous climate change adaptation strategies, specifically incorporating Indigenous knowledge systems into policy; and the process of decolonizing education systems. Currently, she is a collaborator on the Polar Science on a Human Scale capstone project with the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, focusing on climate adaptation strategies for the city of Kivalina, Alaska.

Chase Puentes (she/her) is a graduate Research Assistant on this project, earning a Master’s degree through the UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, a Graduate Certificate in American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and pursuing a PhD in Geography. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Southern California and is currently a collaborator on the community-based, co-productive Polar Science at a Human Scale capstone project with residents of Kivalina, Alaska. Chase’s research interests are interdisciplinary, and include Arctic ecological change, Indigenous knowledge and food systems, and the use of digital tools to support community-identified climate adaptation priorities.