The University of the Arctic’s Role in IPY


The fourth International Polar Year (IPY) began in March 2007 and ends in March 2009. IPY is an internationally-coordinated program to explore new frontiers in polar science, improve our understanding of the critical role of the polar regions in global processes, and educate the public about the polar regions.

Educating people about the polar regions and their importance to the global system will be a significant legacy of IPY. Consequently, IPY education and outreach is aimed at a broad audience of all ages and backgrounds, to engage them in the excitement of polar discovery, and to attract and develop a new generation of researchers, professionals and leaders.

The University of the Arctic (UArctic)’s involvement in the fourth IPY began with the submission of an IPY Expression of Intent (EoI), Higher Education in the International Polar Year. The IPY Joint Committee of the International Council for Science and the World Meteorological Organization encouraged UArctic to develop and submit a full proposal that included and coordinated relevant EoIs. The UArctic proposal, The University of the Arctic: Providing Higher Education and Outreach Programs for the International Polar Year, prepared by Dr. Martin Jeffries of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), a UArctic member institution, was submitted in September 2005 and endorsed by the IPY Joint Committee in November 2005. Concurrently an office for UArctic IPY Higher Education and Outreach was established at UAF, headed by Dr. Jeffries. At the core of the project cluster are UArctic and the International Antarctic Institute (IAI), who are responsible for the coordination and delivery of higher education and outreach in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, respectively, during IPY.  
In keeping with UArctic’s philosophy that education is a continuum and learning is a lifelong process, the individual projects within the UArctic IPY higher education and outreach cluster use diverse approaches to target audiences at different stages along the continuum, including professional development for teachers and participation of primary and secondary schoolchildren, undergraduate research experience and new course development, graduate research training and networking, graduate and early career professional development opportunities, indigenous peoples’ knowledge and learning, and application of new technologies. For more on these projects, see the project cluster page.

Likewise, UArctic’s collaborative higher education and outreach programs hosted in member institutions in arctic countries are many and varied, providing rich learning opportunities for northerners and the greater global community: 1) The Circumpolar Studies Program uses academic and indigenous knowledge, and multi-method delivery in teaching about the North via courses held around the world in the classroom, in the field and online; 2)The UArctic Field School program composed of short, thematic, field-based courses, provides experiential learning in northern locations; 3) The GoNorth program provides the opportunity for non-Arctic residents to go north to the Arctic to learn about the Arctic; 4) The North2north program is a multilateral exchange program that facilitates student mobility in circum-arctic higher education; 5) The Northern Research Forum promotes and enables open discussion among policymakers, business people and other interest groups, the international community, and the research community; 6) The Open Learning program addresses the need for short-term skills training needed by northern residents; 7) Graduate Networks facilitate the education of young researchers through sharing of experience and knowledge to promote regional cooperation and identity, build an academic community, and develop opportunities for education and communication with policy-makers.

UArctic’s education programs together with the other IPY Higher Education and Outreach cluster projects have global linkages and reach, creating a unique network for higher education and outreach during IPY and beyond.