At its annual meeting in June 2007, the UArctic Council approved the proposal from the Bachelor of Circumpolar Studies Program Team to create Regional Offices of Undergraduate Studies for the Nordic-Barents, Russian and North America regions. By approving the proposal, the UArctic Council agreed to have the Regional Offices take over the responsibility for the organization and delivery of distance degree completion programs within their selected regions.

The Regional Offices were selected and established during fall and winter 2007 and 2008. Bodø University College was selected to host the Nordic Barents Regional Office.
At the same time it was decided that Russia should have two regional offices because of its tremendous geographic space. Sakha State University was selected to host the Regional Office of Russia, while Syktyvkar State University was selected to host the Associate Regional Office of Undergraduate Studies. The North American Regional Office has been hosted by the main Office of Undergraduate Studies at University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

The first year of having functioning Regional Offices has been a year of transition. The Office of Undergraduate Studies meet with the Regional offices for the first time at the UArctic Council in Edmonton in June 2008, a second time in Syktyvkar October 2008 and a third time in Bodø January 2009. The transition has been time consuming, but also very proficient. The Regional Offices are all operating with their own staff and operating budgets, and have already reached out to several of their regional UArctic Member Institutions.

The Nordic Barents Regional Office of Undergraduate Studies hosted by Bodø University College (BUC) is headed by the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Bjørn Sagdahl. The Nordic Barents Regional Office currently staffs Professor Evind Karlson, Professor Marit Sundet, and two student assistants. BUC was the first UArctic Member Institution to offer a degree in Circumpolar Studies, and also the first to have Circumpolar Studies graduates. In 2008, BUC had 232 student enrolments in the BCS core courses and another 94 student enrolments in their Advanced Emphasis (AE) in Northern Scandinavian Politics and Society. BUC developed new partnerships with Syktyvkar State University and St. Polar Academy in St. Petersburg, which both have students enrolled for the first time in BUC’s online core courses, winter 2009.

Sakha State University hosts the Russian Regional Office of Undergraduate Studies, and the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Sargylana Kondakova. While Sakha State University was already an active UArctic member in developing the Circumpolar Studies program, the opening of the regional office has spurred tremendous interest. In 2008, Sakha State University had 543 students enrolling in the locally delivered core courses and 26 students in its AE in Nature Conditions of the Territories of Cryolitozone. Sakha State University has also managed to engage two new institutions, Technical Institute in Nerungri and Retraining Institute for Teachers Professional Development, in Circumpolar Studies in 2008. Sakha State University has also engaged the Agriculture Academic and Arctic Institute of Culture and Arts, both of which will enrol students in the core courses in winter, 2009.

Sakha State University works closely with the Associate Russian Regional Office of Undergraduate Studies and the Acting Director Nina Nesterova, hosted by Syktyvkar State University. Syktyvkar State University is a relatively new member to UArctic and Circumpolar Studies. Syktyvkar State University had its first ten students register in the Core Courses delivered by BUC in the fall of 2008. Syktyvkar State University has also assisted in recruiting students for winter 2009 from Syktyvkar Forest Institute and Komi State Pedagogical Institute to BUC. The Office of Undergraduate Studies was recently pleased to receive an announcement from Syktyvkar State University that the office had received a grant to cover all the costs of the office, training instructors and participating in future Regional Office meetings.

The North American Regional Office is hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. During the first year of hosting this office, the main focus has been on ensuring that the other Regional Offices were running smoothly. Nonetheless, the Dean Hayley Hesseln has been able to visit Athabasca University and Memorial University and has upcoming meetings at Washington University and University of Alaska Fairbanks. During the next year, the Office of Undergraduate Studies will focus on having these four institutions actively engaged in Circumpolar Studies.

The first year of having Regional Offices for Circumpolar studies can be seen as nothing but a success. It has surpassed all expectations. We are now left in suspense to see what 2009 will bring for Circumpolar Studies.

If you would like to know more about the Regional Offices or Circumpolar Studies, please contact:

Emmy Neuls
Office of Undergraduate Studies