UArctic Welcomes World-Class Research Institution to its Network

Tue, Jul 01, 2008
UwashingtonThe University of Washington (UW) is located in Seattle, USA, less than two hours from the Canada-US border. Seattle is part of the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is situated about halfway between the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. The University has a long history in the region and strong ties with the Arctic from early on. Founded in 1861, it was the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909 that truly put the University on the “map” and where over 60 Canadian Inuit from Labrador performed and left a lasting legacy.

Today the University is a world-class research institution with over 40,000 students enrolled in 17 schools or colleges including Arts and Sciences (with departments from the arts to zoology), 15 professional schools, and the Graduate School that serves as a coordinating point for over 11,000 grads.

UWashington1The University has considerable interest in Arctic studies and research that ranges from the hard sciences to language acquisition to current exchanges with northern organizations including strong ties between the UW and Canada’s northern peoples.

Benjamin Fitzhugh, Anthropology, has a National Science Foundation grant to study the archaeological record of human adaptation to maritime and arctic environments in southern Alaska (including 4 summer field school classes) and in the subarctic Kuril Islands south of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. Vincent Gallucci, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, through the Shark Study Laboratory, does research on shark species found in the waters of Washington, British Columbia and the Bering Sea. At the Polar Science Center researchers observe and model the physical processes that control the nature and distribution of sea ice and polar ice sheets, the structure and movement of high-latitude oceans, and the interactions between air, sea, ice and biota. This includes research by Kristin Laidre who studies habitat relationships between Arctic whales and climate, mostly in Greenland and with a current focus on the narwhal and Harry Stern, a mathematician who measures sea ice motion and thickness primarily in the Canadian Arctic.

In the Michael Foster School of Business, Jonathan Karpoff has been involved with research on economies in Alaska including the structure and performance of the Alaska Native Settlement Act corporations, the Alaska salmon fisheries, and most recently brought a group of students to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to study the potential economic and environmental impacts of oil drilling.

UWashington2The Canadian Studies Center, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies (where membership in UArctic will be housed) has a strong Arctic focus and commitment. The Center is the first in the nation to award a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship to a student studying Inuktitut, the Inuit language. For the past four years Tim Pasch, Communication, has worked with Inuktitut experts and native speakers from Nunavut and Nunavik (via a video conferencing system) to gain language fluency. He spent the summer of 2007 researching the impact of the internet on Inuktitut in Nunavik, Arctic Québec, as part of a Foreign Affairs, Canada grant.

The Center works closely with Native Voices, an aboriginal documentary filmmaking program, founded and headed up by Center Chair, Daniel Hart, American Indian Studies. Native Voices works closely with Inuit filmmakers from Canada frequently bringing guests to the region. Center Associate Director, Nadine Fabbi, teaches Native Studies 380: Aboriginal Peoples of the North at the University of Alberta each summer and also does extensive lecturing and writing about the history of contact in the North, Canadian Inuit governance movements, etc. Dan and Nadine are currently working very closely with the Makivik Corporation and the Avataq Cultural Institute to create stronger ties between the UW and Nunavik and to bring enhanced opportunities to aboriginal students at both locations.

UWashington3Now that the UW is officially a member of UArctic, the first plan of action is to institute a Circumpolar Major at the University to benefit students from across campus as well as to begin to involve graduate students in northern research opportunities. The Canadian Studies Center and University of Washington both greatly appreciate being accepted for membership by the Council and hope to contribute to the already fine and well-established reputation of UArctic.

For more information on the Center or University see:
Canadian Studies Center 
University of Washington