It was a pleasure to attend the 2018 UArctic Congress last week, co-hosted by the University of Oulu and the University of Helsinki in Finland. The conference was UArctic’s second large-scale meeting of scholars and other professionals dedicated to Arctic studies. I heard many interesting presentations, especially in the area of Arctic education, one of the priorities of Finland’s current Arctic Council Chairmanship. I also especially enjoyed reconnecting with old acquaintances and colleagues, and I made some great new connections as well.
Two years ago, I attended UArctic’s first conference in St Petersburg to speak about launching my Norwich Model Arctic Council (NORMAC) educational initiative. NORMAC has now been running for three years, and I have since also launched another such initiative, Model Arctic Council Bilbao (MAC Bilbao).
I was pleased, then, to be able to give a presentation to the second UArctic Congress about the educational impact of NORMAC and MAC Bilbao. So far, both initiatives appear to be attaining their objectives of teaching secondary-school pupils about the Arctic; inspiring them to learn more about the region, its peoples and its challenges; and helping them to improve their skills in persuasion, negotiation and consensus building. The slides from my presentation about NORMAC and MAC Bilbao are available for download from this website—and I hope that the paper on which my presentation was based will be in print soon.
I was also honoured to be invited to participate in a round-table discussion about the future of the UArctic’s Circumpolar Studies Programme, open to students from any UArctic member university. I look forward to possible further collaboration in this area.
The third UArctic Congress is already tipped for Iceland in 2020, and I have every intention to attend again.