December 15, 2016 | Dartmouth Press Release
Fulbright Arctic Initiative Establishes Innovative Research Model for a Sustainable Arctic Future
Scholars From Arctic Nations Focus on Communities and Policy Relevant Research
Dec. 15, 2016 – As the Arctic continues to experience climate change, resource development and globalization, the policy challenges that Arctic peoples face are many and extend beyond environmental protection and energy to issues of indigenous rights, health and wellness, governance and infrastructure. Seventeen inaugural Fulbright Arctic Initiative researchers and two co-lead scholars from all eight Arctic nations (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States) tackled these Arctic issues through 18 months of research on energy, water, and health and infrastructure, and recently concluded their work with a week of public events in Washington, D.C.
The Fulbright Arctic Initiative was established by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs in October 2014, as part of an effort to support applied research towards a more sustainable Arctic and to coincide with the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The inclusion of all Arctic nations and focus on policy relevance across a range of disciplines represents an innovative research model for Fulbright. Based on the success of the first round of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative, plans are underway to continue the program through a second cohort of scholars.
Michael Sfraga, vice chancellor of University of Alaska Fairbanks and Ross A. Virginia, Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science and director of the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College, served as co-lead scholars of the program.
“The Fulbright Arctic Initiative is innovative, international and interdisciplinary. Whether it be looking at: how health systems perform in the Arctic, including the vitality of indigenous languages; how remote Arctic communities use renewable energy systems; or examining how climate change is affecting Arctic freshwater ecosystems; the scholars looked at real issues affecting the North today and worked with the people living there, to ensure that their research respected the communities’ rights and aspirations,” explains Virginia. “This type of collaboration is imperative to addressing the future of the Arctic, and I hope that other researchers will look to do the same,” he adds.