Overall Goal 

The aims of this thematic network are:

Firstly, the thematic network (TN) aims at strengthening and promoting multidisciplinary, critical studies of the Arctic and its development in a time of environmental change. Much of the current social science-based research is so called “state science” in many Arctic countries with a strong orientation towards data collection and societal problem-solving. However, many of the current societal challenges and problems are complex, intertwined “wicked problems” without any easy solutions, and new conceptual, critical tools are needed to understand them. Critically oriented research has developed around the Arctic in recent years.  Critical research here means challenging mainstream, simplified, and stereotypical understandings of the Arctic; questioning basis of the current depictions of the region and its development; engaging more standpoints and voices for diverse reflective assessments of policy; and elevating the importance of the region and its future on the global scale.

Secondly, the Critical Arctic Studies (CAS) TN aims to promote teaching and supervision for growth of critical Arctic studies, and to provide a forum for cooperation in teaching, supervision, and research as well as for networking between newer and senior scholars. The joint activities planned are suitable for a range of disciplines such as political science, sociology, anthropology, gender studies, Sami and indigenous studies, environmental management, legal studies, geography and so forth. There are opportunities for cooperation on common interests with other Uarctic TN such as Arctic and Northern governance, Climate justice in the Arctic, Arctic sustainable resources and social responsibility, and Communicating Arctic research.

Main Activities

Among planned activities are initially, to run annual workshops for the members of the thematic networks as well as for doctoral candidates in connection to international conferences, workshops  and symposiums, such as Northern political economy symposium and Arctic spirit conference; second, to organize joint teaching and supervision activities, such as courses, summer and winter schools;  and third, develop joint research projects and applications based on the participants interests.

Current and Planned Activities


  • To develop an open, public Facebook community – Critical Arctic Studies – open for anybody interested 
  • To organize a session on Critical Arctic studies to be held at the International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences, Arkhangelsk Russia, June 2021 (online event)
  • To organize the Northern Political Economy symposium at University of Lapland in October (online event) with the theme of “How to govern change in the Arctic?”
  • To recruit diverse scholars with a focus on Indigenous peoples and underrepresented populations to join the CAS TN.
  • To develop cooperation with other relevant Uarctic TNs
  • To contribute with expertise and lectures to the Summer School for Master Degree students, Saint-Petersburg–Salekhard (Yamal) August-September 2021


  • To apply funding for research network activities, for example, to organize a summer/winter school in connection with the University of Lapland doctoral school programme and partners
  • To organize a Northern political economy symposium with a relevant theme
  • To contribute with expertise and lectures to the Summer School for Master Degree students, Saint-Petersburg and Salekhard (Yamal) in the fall of 2022
  • To organize a dialogue with doctoral candidates at Saint-Petersburg University’s Master Degree Programs on arctic issues 
  • To organize a Critical Arctic studies course for doctoral candidates at ULapland doctoral school programme. The intention is to have this course as an online course in order to open up for international participation
  • To bring together a diverse group of critical studies scholars to discuss the current and future publication plans
  • The Center for Arctic Policy Studies will create and curate a location in its website for critical policy approaches/research


  • To develop network activities depending on the connections and learning we experience in 2021-2022.
  • Develop a special issue publication, or a significant single publication with many authors that highlights the need for and the role of critical arctic studies in polar research
  • To organize a second summer/winter school in connection with University of Lapland doctoral school programme and partners
  • To organize the annual Northern political economy symposium