Irina is a designer and researcher focusing on issues such as ethics, climate change, and indigenous peoples. Arriving to Finland from the United States in August 2022, she joined the CHARTER (Drivers and Feedbacks of Changes in Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity) research project at the Arctic Centre. The goals of the project are to better understand processes that have been driving rapid climate and land use changes in the Arctic and to improve the capacity of Arctic communities to adapt to these changes.

During her time with CHARTER, Irina was a key contributor to a StoryMap on the icing event on the Yamal Peninsula, illustrating the first-person account of decisions made by a Nenets reindeer herder to save his herd. She also worked on multiple design tasks for several CHARTER researchers for forthcoming publications.

One significant project she completed was the creation of a multilingual custom deck of playing cards that have been developed, utilized and honed during multiple workshops with reindeer herders and locals across Finnish Lapland. Not only are these cards a very effective tool in creating conversation pathways, they are also beautiful to behold! 

Set of cards designed by Irina Wang
Set of cards designed by Irina Wang

A visualisation of the Sámi-Nenets-Komi reindeer herding calendar developed by Irina in close collaboration with Roza Laptander and Tim Horstkotte and others, is currently in press. Irina has completed her grant period and returned to North America, but CHARTER is hopeful that her own work will bring her back this way in the future. To view her other projects, check out her website here


This was adapted from the CHARTER newsletter, which can be viewed here.

Additional travel to University of Lapland was supported by funding from the American Arctic Connection program of the US Embassy.