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JSIS 495D Task Force: Michelle R. Koutnik – Indigenous and International Relations in a Warming Arctic

Task Force 2024


Whit Fraser

Viceregal Consort of Canada

Faculty Adviser

Michelle Koutnik

Task Force

  • Desaree Huynh (Editor)
  • Nicolas Meljac (Project Manager)
  • Jacob Coffler (Author)
  • BB Denton (Author)
  • Claudia Fesko Santos (Author)
  • Katelyn Kesinger (Author)
  • Evelyn Merino Mendoza (Author)
  • Ava Moore (Author)
  • Olivia Myhre (Author)
  • Anouk Orillon (Author)
  • Maya Russel-Hoff (Author)
  • Ava Seifred (Author)
  • Faith Torlai Author)
  • Amber Wang (Author)


In both Canada and the United States, China’s aspirations as a polar power are impacting the balance in Arctic international relations. In a warming Arctic, melting ice is opening new shipping routes, creating new opportunities for natural resource extraction, and accelerating other processes of globalization. China considers itself a near-Arctic nation and now serves as an Observer on the Arctic Council, which is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation in the Arctic. At the same time, Arctic Indigenous Peoples, in particular Inuit, have become increasingly effective at influencing domestic and international policies concerning the Arctic. In this Task Force, students will address ways that policies may impact China’s role in the region and what impact, if any, China’s role in Arctic policy might have on Arctic Indigenous Peoples, Canada, the United States and beyond.

While Arctic policy is developed to solve social and international problems, in seeking to understand policy we must ask whose voices are dominant and whose are not well represented or even absent in the development of a particular policy, or in decision-making processes. International relations and policies that impact the homelands and lives of Arctic Indigenous Peoples are inherently linked to questions of justice and the rights of Inuit and Inuit communities. This is particularly important as international interests, such as China’s, increase their focus on the Arctic.

This course includes a one-week research trip to Canada’s capital, Ottawa, to deepen experience and engagement in Arctic policy. While experiencing Ottawa, students will be given an Indigenous tour of the city, engage in visits to Arctic Embassies, Inuit organizations, federal departments, and with leaders in Arctic studies, and – weather permitting – skate on the world’s longest canal!


Ottawa Program Adviser:

Nadine Fabbi, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Canada Studies Center




Ottawa Program Adviser:

Paul Carrington,
Managing Director, East Asia Center


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