Skip to main content

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

Task Force 2024

Faculty Adviser

Nadine Fabbi

Co-Lead, Arctic and International Relations Initiative, Managing Director Canadian Studies, Henry M . Jackson School of International Studies


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! Please contact Nadine Fabbi ( if you are interested in this Task Force.

Co-instructor: Paul Carrington,
Managing Director, East Asia Center





Click here for more Task Force Reports