ScAN – Building Connections between Scotland and the Arctic


The Scottish Arctic Network (ScAN) brings together eleven universities and research institutions based in Scotland. Acting as a UArctic Regional Centre, ScAN connects over 150 individuals from academia, NGOs, and the public sector.


By Daria Shapovalova, Chair of the ScAN Steering Group, Director of the Aberdeen University Centre for Energy Law, Senior Lecturer, University of Aberdeen


As the world’s northernmost non-Arctic nation, Scotland shares a lot of similarities and challenges with its Arctic neighbours, from rurality and population density to just energy transition and community resilience. This lends itself to a strong research base with institutions in Scotland contributing to more than one thousand academic publications about the Arctic region in the past twenty years.

ScAN as Part of the UArctic Family

Despite the long and rich history of Arctic research by Scotland-based scientists, our network itself is very young. The starting point of ScAN was Scotland’s Arctic policy framework. Launched in 2019, it laid the foundation for the Arctic Connections funding that has been supporting projects led by Scotland-based institutions and promoting Arctic cooperation.

ScAN was formally established in 2021 and is built around the Scottish universities who are members of UArctic in partnership with the Scottish Government. This is a community open to anyone interested in Scotland’s relationship with the Arctic, but most of our members are researchers across all disciplines and career stages.

In 2023, ScAN became a UArctic Regional Centre, with the aim to promote long-term collaboration and dialogue between UArctic members in Scotland and Arctic members of UArctic. Since then we have been working on exploring how we can facilitate north2north exchanges as well as the participation of Scotland-based researchers in UArctic Thematic Networks. We also welcomed two new university members and started work on developing a north2north guide for Scottish institutions.

Knowledge Exchange and Network Building

In October 2023, at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland, we had the privilege of hosting an honest conversation about the challenges and opportunities for knowledge exchange through Arctic research networks. In addition to ScAN, the session featured ArcticNET, the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network (IACN), and the Network of Arctic Researchers in Ireland (NARI). The panel discussed the challenges of running research networks in the era of funding precarity. They also highlighted the excellent opportunities that participation in research networks has brought to them over the years and the need for inter-network communications and cooperation.

Over the past year, ScAN provided travel grants to six early-career researchers for presenting at the UK Arctic Science Conference, the Arctic Circle Assembly, and Arctic Frontiers. We launched and held our first webinar series featuring talks on Arctic shipping, disabled inclusion and participation in polar research, remediation in Alaska, northern pedagogies, and Arctic marine infrastructure. We also helped organize the Arctic Science Summit Week in Edinburgh in March 2024.

Going forward, we will continue to build our network to improve inter-institutional collaboration and communication on Arctic research in Scotland, and to promote our Arctic academic expertise both in Scotland and internationally.


Members of ScAN

Glasgow Caledonian University
Glasgow School of Art
Heriot Watt University
Robert Gordon University
Scottish Alliance of Geosciences, Environment and Society (SAGES)
University of Aberdeen
University of Dundee
University of Edinburgh
University of Glasgow
University of Highlands and Islands
University of St Andrews
University of Strathclyde