In the past year, UArctic has worked in close cooperation with the Finnish chairmanship of the Arctic Council to drive this idea forward – that education at all levels is critical to a sustainable Arctic region. A strong community of primary and secondary teachers who understand and are committed to the northern communities where they teach is essential, and the networks of UArctic members that deliver teacher education programs play a leading role in building that community of educators. UArctic has been pleased to partner with the Arctic Council to carry out this important priority of the Finnish chairmanship program.
Much of the work under the Education priority has been coordinated by the UArctic Thematic Network on Teacher Education for Social Justice and Diversity in Education. This network has been extremely active, including leading the Sustainable Development Working Group project "Teacher Education for Diversity and Equality in the Arctic", which focusses on knowledge exchange around inclusive and effective teaching practices. The network also received recognition as the first Finnish-led UNESCO UNITWIN network, which “pool their resources, both human and material, to address pressing challenges and contribute to the development of their societies.”
The planning of the UArctic Congress 2018, September 3-7 in Oulu and Helsinki, Finland, has also been closely coordinated with the Education priority, as well as the other priorities of the Finnish chairmanship. The themes of the Congress scientific program align with the priorities of environmental protection, connectivity, meteorological cooperation, and education, as well as highlighting the UN Sustainable Development goals, gender equality, and the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
UArctic also strengthened its research engagement through the appointment of Professor Jeffrey Welker as the first UArctic Chair, a collaborative appointment between UArctic, the University of Oulu and the University of Alaska Anchorage. The inaugural position is hosted by the University of Oulu. UArctic Chairs are highly qualified academics who will serve as academic drivers in a broad problem area of relevance to the Arctic. They implement and drive collaborative actions among UArctic members and Thematic Networks; develop research cooperation, including undergraduate, graduate, PhD and postdoctoral scientist training; and build partnerships with the broader Arctic community.
Also in 2017, the University of Aberdeen hosted the UArctic Rectors’ Forum on the theme “The Inhabited Arctic: Lands, Peoples and Scholarship in the Circumpolar North”. The assembled heads of UArctic institutions engaged in broad discussions on the issues facing northern higher education and research. The conclusions of these discussions were reflected in the Rectors’ Forum Declaration. The meeting was organized in conjunction with the international conference “Conversations from the North”.
The University of Greenland organized a very successful Council meeting in Nuuk, also in August 2017, which featured a pre-conference excursion to Sisimiut, organized by the Arctic Technology Centre (ARTEK) of the Technical University of Denmark. Over eighty Council members and other participants, including Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council, attended the meetings and enjoyed a diverse cultural program and excursions among the spectacular scenery of Greenland.
A record number of fourteen new members joined the UArctic network at the Council meeting. These include Baltic State Technical University, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, New Jersey City University, Technical University of Denmark, Western Kentucky University, Aleut International Association, Arctic Research Center of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology - Simon Fraser University, International Sámi Film Institute, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University, Beijing Normal University, Alfred Wegener Institut, Arctic Centre - University of Groningen, and Centre for Polar Ecology - University of South Bohemia.
The meeting also welcomed seven new Thematic Networks to UArctic: Arctic Lingua, Arctic Migration, Arctic Research Administration, Arctic WASH, Arthropods of the Tundra / NeAT, Global Ecological and Economic Connections in Arctic and Sub-Arctic Crab Fisheries, and Science Diplomacy.