I’ve just returned from Glasgow, where I ran the second Scotland Model Arctic Council (SCOTMAC) at the Mary Robinson Centre for Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). A tremendous experience—easily one of the most intense and rewarding of the two-dozen-plus MACs that I’ve run, with some of the most engaged, energetic and committed student participants. In all, 27 students from 12 home countries, studying between them a huge range of subjects at 11 universities in three countries, took part in the simulation. They grappled with two very difficult issues—climate engineering in the Arctic, and the future of Arctic cooperation in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The diplomatic discussions were extremely challenging—at times even seeming to collapse before being revived again when delegates managed to discover a way forward. At one point, delegates resorted to whiteboards to help map out problems and define solutions! And in the end their efforts were rewarded with an excellent joint declaration on both issues. Congratulations!
A full wrap-up note will follow in due course. But the wonderfully kind thank-you card that I received from the participating students at our finale dinner is for me the best summary of the impression that SCOTMAC made on them, and how much they gained from it.
Some student testimonials:
- The conference is brilliantly organised, everyone is very supportive and friendly, and it’s an experience I would strongly recommend to any university student with an interest in politics, international relations, as well as the Arctic.
- Before participating in SCOTMAC, my knowledge of the Arctic and its peoples was incredibly limited. To be entirely honest, I didn’t even know the Arctic Council existed. However, after the conference I feel like I have learnt so much more about the Arctic in a diplomatic, social and environmental sense.
- The whole experience was very informative. It made me think of the Arctic in a way I had not considered and brought to light the experiences and concerns of Indigenous peoples living in the Arctic.
- I really enjoyed it! The director was especially helpful, and when there was palpable tension regarding delegates, Dr Speca was instrumental in easing tensions AND redirecting conversation to realistic and grounded objectives. All of the Secretrariat was very well organised, friendly, and approachable, and the dinners, informal and formal, were good ways to meet participants.
- Overall it was a really great experience. Thank you to everyone who was involved in making this happen 🙂
And this from an observer from Robert Gordon University—the planned host of SCOTMAC 3 next year:
- Fantastic event and absolutely incredible experience for me as a guest and for participating students. Many many thanks to Anthony and the team for organising MAC events across the country and giving pupils and students the opportunity to develop such important skills. This is experiential learning at its best and most useful.
Thank you to all who participated, both student and faculty, and special thanks to my partners in the Scottish Arctic Network and Trent University, to our host university GCU, and to the Scottish Government for their generous support through the Arctic Connections Fund.