Transnational Task Force on the Arctic

Indigenous and International Relations in the Arctic

The Task Force is a capstone experience for undergraduates in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Students work in teams to recommend responses to international problems. At the end of the quarter, these recommendations are evaluated by an outside expert. Since 2009, five Task Force programs have been offered on the Arctic that include a one-week trip to Ottawa. This year’s Task Force will focus on the relationship between Arctic Indigenous Peoples and major superpowers such as China. Students will examine whose voices are dominant in the policy development process and how Inuit are influencing international relations in the region. His Excellency, Whit Fraser, will serve as this year’s expert evaluator.


Leadership Student Team Ottawa Program

Expert Evaluator

Official portrait of His Excellency Mr. Whit Fraser

His Excellency Whit Grant Fraser is the spouse of Mary May Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous governor general and the 30th governor general since Confederation. He was born in Merigomish, Pictou County, Nova Scotia on November 26, 1942. Mr. Fraser is an author and a storyteller who has had a front seat to many of the historic events in the last half century in the Canadian Arctic. His passion for the Arctic and its peoples began more than five decades ago when he relocated from Nova Scotia to the Canadian Arctic to work as a journalist with CBC North.  Read more here.

Task Force Instructor

Headshot of Michelle KoutnikMichelle Koutnik is a glaciologist whose research interests include the dynamics of glacier change, the evolution of glaciers and ice sheets over time, and the history of climate and ice on Mars. As part of the UW Department of Earth and Space Sciences’ glaciology group, Michelle explores the how glaciers and ice sheets evolve in response to climate change. She has collected data at multiple field locations, including Greenland and Antarctica, and uses that data to better understand and model the processes that affect ice flow. Read more here.

Ottawa Course and Program Advisors

Headshot of Paul CarringtonPaul Carrington is Managing Director of the University of Washington East Asia Center, a Title VI National Resource Center funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Working with faculty, students and a diverse range of off-campus partners, he is responsible for implementing the EAC’s mission to advance knowledge of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan throughout the UW and wider community. This includes developing K-12, college and university curriculum; hosting academic conferences, public lectures and trainings; facilitating study abroad; and administering FLAS fellowships. Read more here.

Headshot of Nadine FabbiNadine C. Fabbi is Interim Director of the Canadian Studies Center and Arctic and International Relations in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington; and Lead for the Arctic International Policy Institute Arctic Fellows initiative in the Jackson School. Her doctorate is in Educational Leadership and Policy in the Faculty of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. Nadine is the founder and program director for the Jackson School of International Studies’ biennial Task Force on the Arctic. Read more here.

Headshot of Jason Young against a green, leafy background. He wears a white collared shirt under a gray wool jacket.Jason Young is a Senior Research Scientist and Assistant Professor in the UW iSchool. His work explores the politics that shape what forms of knowledge come to matter within different socio-cultural contexts, with an emphasis on the role of technological practice in shaping these epistemic politics. His  projects strongly emphasize community-based, participatory approaches with applied goals, but are also inspired by and draw from a broad range of postcolonial, feminist, and critical theories. Much of his research is done in the context of the Arctic. Read more here.


Headshot of Zac MurphyZac Murphy is an experienced Director of Multimedia and Information Strategy with over fifteen years of international experience in creating award-winning content. Specializing in advocacy solutions and communication strategies for the public sector, he leads misinformation mitigation at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Zac is also pursuing a Doctorate in Information Science, focusing on youth media literacy and combating misinformation. As a member of the Center for Informed Public and TASCHA, he blends practical skills with academic research to impact technology and society.

Professional Editor and Writing Consultant

Joanne Muzak in a furry winter hoodJoanne Muzak is an experienced editor, writing consultant, and project manager. Based in Montreal, Canada, Joanne works with diverse clients from around the world on all kinds of writing projects, at every stage in the process. She has worked with Dr. Nadine Fabbi, and her colleagues and students at the University of Washington, on the Arctic and International Relations Series since its launch in 2015. Read more here