Students at Model Arctic Council in Alaska

Four Dartmouth students are participating in a unique biennial meeting that gives them hands-on experience in international politics, leadership, and collaboration on an international scale.

The Model Arctic Council (MAC) draws students from across the Arctic and the world to simulate the work of the Arctic Council, a leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states, Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants. This year MAC is being held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, March 9-15, 2016. 

Dartmouth participated in the last MAC simulation in 2014 when earth sciences graduate student Alexandra Giese represented the US in Arkhangelsk, Russia. This year's Dartmouth delegation expanded to four students: Dickey Center Lombard Fellowship recipient Sappho Gilbert MPH'14, Gregory Poulin MALS’16, Lauren Bishop D’19, and Sydney Kamen D’19.

They are accompanied by Melody Brown Burkins, Associate Director for Programs and Research at the Dickey Center and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies, who encouraged students in her environmental studies course "Science Policy and Diplomacy" to apply last fall: "The MAC students will return to their universities as Arctic ambassadors--now versed in key issues of Arctic science, policy and diplomacy--to help their peers understand the rising importance of the Arctic to the world."

The objectives of the MAC are to increase student knowledge of the Arctic as a region and its circumpolar politics and northern Indigenous peoples. Students gain a better understanding of Arctic Council objectives and processes through hands-on decision-making activities. Ideally, MAC helps prepare students to assume leadership roles in the circumpolar north. Participants prepare in advance for the MAC simulation through courses and extra-curricular programs at their host universities. 

Speakers this year have included one of the foremost experts on Arctic shipping, Lawson Brigham from the University of Alaska Fairbanks; Alexander Segunin from St. Petersburg State University, an expert on US-Russian cooperation in the Arctic; Hago Eiken from University of Alaska Fairbanks on Arctic sea ice, and others.

This year MAC is part of Arctic Science Summit Week at University of Alaska Fairbanks, an annual gathering of over 1,000 people involved in Arctic research from 30 nations. Ross Virginia, Director of the Dickey Center's Institute of Arctic Studies, is attending ASSW. "MAC has gained considerable attention at ASSW," he says. "There is a pressing need to engage students in the important policy challenges facing the Arctic: climate change, indigenous rights, Arctic Ocean safety and security, food security, and community health."

Model Arctic Council is a Thematic Network of the University of the Arctic (UArctic) consortium of schools, which includes Dartmouth. 

Read more in the Dartmouth Graduate Forum