Toward a Sustainable Arctic Future - Fulbright Arctic Initiative Holds Public Symposium in Oulu, Finland

Posted by Steve Money
February 11, 2016
The Fulbright Arctic Fellows -- 17 researchers from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian, Sweden, and the United States.

To coincide with the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, 17 researchers from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States met in Iqaluit, Canada in May 2015 to kick-off their 18-month Fulbright Arctic Initiative program. Since then, these scholars have been collaborating across borders on scientific research projects related to Arctic issues.

To mark the mid-point of the program, the Arctic Scholars are convening in Oulu, Finland for a week-long plenary meeting and an Arctic Symposium to share updates on their research projects, discuss research challenges, and receive input for moving forward.

Fulbright Arctic Co-Lead Scholar Dr. Ross A. Virginia is looking forward to publicizing the work of the group for the first time. “At our inaugural meeting in Iqaluit, we came as individual scholars from the eight Arctic Council states and left as a team focusing our research on the themes of water, energy, health, and infrastructure. We committed our effort to asking multidisciplinary research questions that are relevant to the wellbeing of communities as well as larger scale issues important to the Arctic Council such as climate change, energy policy, and the health of the Arctic Ocean and freshwaters,” Dr. Virginia said.

Ms. Terhi Mölsä, the Executive Director of the Fulbright Center in Finland, articulated why Oulu was chosen to host this gathering noting, “While nearly on the same latitude as Iqaluit, Oulu offers a different look at the varied regions and realities in the North…The city is an ideal place for the inaugural Fulbright Arctic scholar group to come together to continue their joint work, explore issues with invited experts and, for the first time as the full cohort, present their research to the general public.”

Arctic scientists, students, policy makers, industry, and NGO representatives, as well as other key stakeholders, are connecting with the Arctic scholars at the Symposium. Speakers include U.S. Ambassador to Finland Charles Adams, as well as representatives of Arctic nations, students, and journalists. Co-Lead Scholars Dr. Michael Sfraga of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and Dr. Ross A. Virginia of Dartmouth College are guiding the research teams in their work.

Nine months into their program, there has been great interest in the group’s progress and discoveries.  Dr. Virginia shared, “As our research grows and our conceptual models are refined, we shift to planning for the dissemination of our work as scholars and to creative ways to engage with and share our findings with the global public and residents of the Arctic. Much of our time in Oulu will be devoted to this challenge.”

The Arctic Symposium is hosted by the Fulbright Center in Finland, the University of Oulu, and the Thule Institute. Watch the recorded live stream of the symposium on the event web page.

About the Author: Steve Money serves as a Program Officer in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' Office of Academic Exchange Programs.

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