Fulbright Arctic Initiative Concludes Third Cohort

The Fulbright Arctic Initiative (FAI), an international and interdisciplinary collaboration of scholars focusing on Arctic issues, successfully concluded its third cohort through a series of events held in Washington, D.C. from April 25-28th, 2023.

During Fulbright Arctic Week, nineteen scholars representing the eight Arctic nations actively engaged policymakers and the general public in discussions pertaining to the establishment of a secure and sustainable Arctic. This culmination marked the culmination of two years of extensive research in crucial areas such as Arctic security, infrastructure, and health.

Led by esteemed scholars, Dr. Greg Poelzer from the University of Saskatchewan and Dr. Elizabeth Rink from Montana State University, this third FAI cohort demonstrated exceptional leadership and built upon the foundation laid by the program since its inception in 2015. The highlights of Fulbright Arctic Week are presented below the picture.

The Fulbright Arctic Initiative

The Fulbright Arctic Initiative is an international, multi-disciplinary collaboration on Arctic research. The Initiative supports international scientific cooperation on Arctic issues and increases mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. It is part of the Fulbright Program, which is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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Jaime DeSimone, an American scholar, delivers a compelling presentation on the significance of artists and the arts within Arctic communities, while the majestic figure of Phoenix, the right whale, looms above

April 25, 2023

April 25 - U.S. Government Briefings and Smithsonian Poster Exhibition

The scholars of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative had the privilege to meet with government representatives from the U.S. Department of State and various federal agencies responsible for Arctic policy. Scholars had the opportunity to present key findings from their research and address inquiries regarding the implications for future U.S. government policies.

Following these significant government meetings, the scholars presented their individual research in a formal poster exhibition at the prestigious Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. This exhibition attracted a diverse audience, including members of the public, current and former Fulbright Students and Scholars, and esteemed Arctic scientists affiliated with the Smithsonian.

Notably, Fulbright Arctic Week coincided with meetings of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR), providing the scholars with the opportunity to interact with representatives from other Arctic Council nations at a reception hosted by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Denmark. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski graciously extended a warm welcome to all attendees.

A panel of Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars at the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

April 26. 2023

April 26 - Panel Presentations by Fulbrighters and Officials from Arctic Nations

The Royal Norwegian Embassy organized a significant event titled “Cooperation in a Changing Arctic,” gathering distinguished individuals including FAI scholars and prominent figures in Arctic policy. With Norway assuming the chairmanship of the Arctic Council this year, the event highlighted their commitment to fostering stability and constructive collaboration in the Arctic region. The opening remarks were delivered by Norwegian Ambassador Anniken Krutnes, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs Ethan Rosenzweig, and FAI’s Co-lead Scholar Dr. Greg Poelzer.

The event comprised two enlightening panels. The first panel showcased the research work of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars from Norway and U.S. scholars who had undertaken research exchange visits in Norway. The second panel featured esteemed leaders in Arctic policy, including Ambassador Krutnes, Senator Murkowski, and Deputy Assistant Secretary Iris Ferguson from the Department of Defense. The panel discussion was skillfully moderated by Dr. Mike Sfraga, Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission and U.S. Ambassador Designate for the Arctic Region.

April 27 - Presentations by Policy Recommendations

The scholars’ event at the Wilson Center on Thursday marked the culmination of their week in Washington. Titled “Interdisciplinary Scholars and Policy: Science Diplomacy in the Arctic,” the event was hosted by the Polar Institute of the Wilson Center.

Dr. Rebecca Pincus, Director of the Polar Institute, welcomed the scholars and highlighted the challenges they are addressing. She is an esteemed Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Iceland (2015) with expertise in Arctic security, having served in faculty roles at the U.S. Naval War College and as Arctic and Climate Strategy Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy.

The scholars’ presentations aligned with the primary policy focus areas of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative.

The first research group, focused on Arctic security and community engagement, presented policy guidelines encompassing various dimensions of security, including food, environment, energy, gender, health, economy, and culture. Peter Wilhelm Linde, the Chief Counsellor for Arctic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and a Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholar From Denmark, was among the group.

The second research group, which focused on Arctic infrastructure in a changing environment, emphasized the importance of addressing energy, policy, and knowledge infrastructures. They provided recommendations for sustainable energy solutions, a robust infrastructure policy framework, and empowering local communities for sustainable development. Among others, the group included Lill Rastad Bjørst, a Danish associate professor at Aalborg Universitet and a Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholar From Denmark.

The third research group, which focused on community dimensions of health in the Arctic, presented short- and long-term policy recommendations to enhance the health and well-being of diverse groups across the region. Following the policy presentations, a panel spotlighted the work of FAI Scholars from indigenous communities in the Arctic.

A policy brief, detailing the research findings and recommendations of each group, is available here.

April 28 - Fulbright Arctic Initiative III: A Lasting Legacy

On the concluding day of Arctic Week, scholars from the third cohort of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative engaged in introspection regarding their research and the valuable connections forged during the program. They also strategized for future collaborations and opportunities to advance Arctic research.

Over the course of eight years, the 54 participating scholars have cultivated enduring relationships with colleagues at their respective host institutions, as well as with the communities where their research was conducted.

Dr. Poelzer, Co-lead Scholar, emphasized that the Fulbright Arctic Initiative, as an integral part of the broader Fulbright program, places equal importance on scholarship and cultural diplomacy. He commended the scholars for embodying excellence and expertise in addressing the pressing challenges of the Arctic region.

Expressing gratitude, Dr. Rink extended appreciation to the numerous individuals and organizations that have contributed to the initiative’s accomplishments. This includes the Fulbright Commissions in the Kingdom of Denmark. Dr. Rink highlighted the pivotal role of partnerships and relationships in the work of those living and working in the Arctic, acknowledging them as the fundamental pillars of their endeavors.

Fulbright Arctic IV is expected to be announced in the near future. Info will be posted here on our website.