This past week, I was excited to travel to Rovaniemi and Ánar/Inari, Finland, to participate in the first in-person workshop of the University of Washington’s (UW’s) ‘Co-designing Civic Education for the Circumpolar North‘ project. It’s an honour for me to collaborate on this educationally important project, led by Jason Young, Nadine Fabbi and Michelle Koutnik of UW, and funded by the US National Science Foundation’s ‘Navigating the New Arctic‘ programme. Indeed, I have the distinct privilege of representing two organisations in this project—Polar Aspect and the UArctic Læra Institute for Circumpolar Education, of which I’m one of the directors.
This first in-person workshop followed three online workshops, focused on defining the project’s terms and setting out its agenda, on best practices for designing anti-colonial approaches to civic education in the Circumpolar North, and on sketching out concrete proposals for civic-education projects. Reports from the first and second workshops are available from the project website. A report from the third workshop will be published there shortly.
In Finland, we focused on building out our educational project proposals further, and on written project outputs for a special education-focused edition of the Arctic and International Relations Series published by the UW Jackson School of International Studies. We also learned much from visits to the University of Lapland and its Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi, and to the Sámi educational and cultural institutions of Sogsakk, Sajos and Siida in Ánar/Inari. It was also a pleasure to get to know one another in person, and to explore potential future collaboration.
And for me personally, it was really lovely to return to Rovaniemi and Ánar/Inari after many years—and especially to see my friend Aslak Paltto again. Almost 14 years ago now, he welcomed me into his home and introduced me to the life and work of a Sámi reindeer herder, an extraordinary experience for which I’m deeply grateful. Aslak is also a journalist and documentary filmmaker, and his film on the challenges that Sámi reindeer herders face today, Badjealbmá Čalmmiiguin/Through a Reindeer Herder’s Eyes, is a must-see for anyone who cares about Indigenous culture and livelihood.
My sincere thanks to the UW project team for a productive and enjoyable workshop. I’m looking very much forward to participating in the fifth workshop this coming spring, and to the possibility of working together further in future.