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Greetings from the 7th UArctic Students' Forum in Arkhangelsk!

The UArctic declaration for the year is ready and signed. The intensive Students’ Forum started for most of the participants on the 25th of June. Four days’ intensive working included a lot of conversations, keynotes, workshops and excursions. PhD, MA and BA students from different Arctic countries arrived to Russia to develop Arctic mobility and educational goals from student’s perspective. What does it mean to study in an Arctic university? What kind of cooperation and research do we need to have? The Students’ Forum took place in Arkhangelsk, in the Northern Arctic Federal University of Russia.

Several seminar keynotes provided information about human ecology and economic geography. There was, for example, an interesting keynote about economics and nature, the peculiarities of tourism in the North and about the Northern Sea Route, and its challenges and possibilities. The interesting bus tour and overnight excursion to natural park and tourist complex Colubino increased the team spirit and made us focus on the declaration. On Friday we were able to join some of the Rectors’ Forum panel discussions. The speakers representing government, industry and universities presented their perspectives on the problems of cooperation and regional needs in connections. In our opinion the schedules should have had even more space for panel discussions.

The declaration, which we were working on during the Students’ Forum, included actions and recommendations for five important perspectives: communication/visibility, research, sharing of data, outreach and cooperation, and student involvement. We made recommendations on how we would want to improve the concept of Arctic education. We also notified how we understand the Arctic. The starting point for us was to think UArctic as a network that offers opportunities for students and professors in circumpolar research and knowledge exchange. In the past research and development in the Arctic was mainly focused on resource extraction. However, the Arctic is also home to a unique social context: cultures and communities. The ultimate goals must be the protection of the environment as well as the culture and rights of the people living there. Education is an important part of the wellbeing, and that is why we need to concentrate on improving it. It is needed to increase our international northern understanding. The declaration notes that the participants returning from the Students’ Forum should act as official ambassadors of UArctic for their home universities.

Our student group was also working on the practical idea articulated in the Declaration: how to provide a possibility for Students’ Forum participants to meet in advance, before the Students' Forum starts, and to discuss existing problems, suggestions, etc. so that the Forum could be more effective. We came up with the situation where ICT solutions were default, not only an opportunity. ICT could also help to share research and articles in a form of database or e-library. We understood the importance of shared information across the Arctic.

We got a lot of new experiences. For me the best part was the cruise dinner. It was nice to see northern people – rectors, researchers and students around the world – together sitting in one table. I am convinced that the Arctic is about the people living there. Mobility is not just a word without a meaning. If the university staff provides new ways to be international, look beyond your country’s borders and have one, shared, northern community. We, as students, need to activate our community to understand the meaning and importance of mobility.

I am waiting for further cooperation with all you great Arctic specialists. Greetings from Finland!


Hilkka Kemppi
University of Lapland

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The 2014 Rectors’ Forum is hosted by the University of Akureyri on May 28-31. In conjunction with the Rectors’ Forum, the University of Akureyri will continue the practice of hosting a UArctic Students’ Forum. For more information, please visit the Rectors' Forum webpage.