A new organization helps collegians learn about the Arctic Council ...
Carolyn Kozak says she’s excited about getting together with about 70 other university students from around the circumpolar north next month in Fairbanks for a first-of-its-kind meeting of youth concerned about the future of the Arctic.
“I’m looking forward to looking at the common problems we face together and hopefully coming up with some innovative solutions,” she said.
Kozak is a graduate student in the University of Alaska-Fairbanks’ Arctic and Northern Studies program. And she’s a participant in Model Arctic Council, an organization that engages youth to learn about the Arctic Council, the deliberative body that represents the interests of the eight Arctic nations.
“These students are coming from very different countries and cultures, but living in the north is a very specific experience, and it faces specific problems,” Kozak said. “And so to be able to talk those out together and come up with innovative solutions is exciting.”
The diversity of students participating in Model Arctic Council reflects the makeup of the Arctic Council, which operates through collaboration and consensus. UAF political science professor Brandon Boylan says Model Arctic Council helps college students learn how the Arctic Council functions – and why it’s important, because of problems in the region it seeks to resolve.
“The Arctic as a region is becoming more important because of global climate change and the ways in which environmental change is impacting indigenous communities in the Arctic, energy exploration and opening up new shipping routes,” he said.
Boylan says Model Arctic Council is structured like Model United Nations, a more-established program that uses the same learn-by-doing method to teach students about that international organization.
UAF Arctic and Northern Studies program director Mary Ehrlander says other University of the Arctic-affiliated institutions have held smaller Model Arctic Council events over the past few years. She says academics at those universities decided last year to hold a larger get-together of students from all Arctic nations every two years in the nation that holds the rotating Arctic Council chairmanship.
And because the United States assumed the chair last year, the first of the big meetings will be held here in Alaska.
“This is going to be the first full international Model Arctic Council that involves students from throughout the circumpolar north,” she said.
Ehrlander says the Model Arctic Council students will have many learning opportunities during their stay in Fairbanks through a weeklong series of events being held as part of the university’s Arctic Science Summit Week.
Editor's note: This story has been revised for posting online.