Fulbright Arctic Initiative: Program Description

Program Description: Based on available funding, approximately 12 outstanding scholars from the United States and the seven other Arctic Council states will be selected through an open, merit-based competition to participate in the program as Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars. Program activities will begin in spring 2018 and conclude in fall 2019.

The Arctic scholars will participate in an individual Fulbright exchange of six to 12 weeks. For the individual exchange, U.S. scholars will travel to one of the seven other Arctic Council states, and international scholars will travel to the United States. In some cases, scholars will already have contact with colleagues at institutions or research centers and may arrange their own placements. In other cases, the scholar’s affiliation will be arranged at sites appropriate for the proposed work by the Co-Lead Scholars, IIE, or Fulbright Commissions/Offices.

In addition to their individual exchange activities, scholars will work together in multi-disciplinary and multi-national research teams. The Fulbright Arctic Initiative will provide a platform for scholars from across the Arctic region to engage in collaborative thinking, analysis, problem solving and multi-disciplinary research in one of two areas:

A. Resilient Communities

The Arctic is facing profound social, economic, and environmental change and communities are increasingly confronted with critical policy challenges related to issues of health and wellness, energy resource management, environmental protection, sustainability of the Arctic Ocean, infrastructure, indigenous rights, education, and regional governance. Further research is needed on ways to build social resilience in communities to adapt to changes across the Arctic. This research should focus on and ideally involve Arctic communities themselves and consider the application of indigenous knowledge to help inform policy at local to regional scales, as well as multi-disciplinary research to bring differing or complementary viewpoints.

Policy-relevant research on this theme could address questions such as:

• What specific sustainability challenges do Arctic communities face in areas such as: subsistence activities; food and water security; availability of medical care and educational opportunities; and programs and resources for the continuity of their identities as indigenous peoples? What areas of research might best contribute to the most effective and socially equitable policies on these issues?
• How can health resources and systems best address community and individual wellness?
• How can traditional and indigenous knowledge be successfully integrated into community adaptation practices and strategies?
• How can communities evaluate and respond to potential relocation options in response to coastal erosion, permafrost thaw and other environmental challenges?

B. Sustainable Economies

The rapid changes in the Arctic Ocean system resulting from sea ice decline, changes in water conditions, and increasing shipping and energy production have significance for Arctic nations, global markets, and coastal communities. The economic impacts of environmental changes and globalization in the Arctic, together with the region’s expanding connections to the global economy, require research to address how commercial opportunities can be supported and balanced with the need for sustained subsistence livelihoods in Arctic communities.

Policy-relevant research on this theme could focus on:

• How can the development of energy resources, fisheries, shipping and telecommunication infrastructure, and increased local educational opportunities and support for indigenous scholarship promote the creation of more sustainable Arctic economies that meet community, regional, and national goals?
• How can advances in technology be used in the Arctic to strengthen data collection and data-sharing, advance and adapt the Arctic built environment, better connect Arctic communities to the global economy, and adapt Arctic infrastructure to improve human wellness and increase economic opportunities?
• How can energy resources, including oil and gas, be developed, taking into account the economic needs of Arctic communities, while protecting the environment for other activities such as fisheries, ecotourism and biodiversity conservation?
• How can investments in infrastructure for ports, pipelines, freshwater storage and treatment, and transportation be accomplished?

At the beginning of the program, an in-person meeting and program orientation will be held for all scholars, at which the Co-Lead Scholars and research teams will have the opportunity to begin working on collaborative projects and establish guidelines and goals before the scholars participate in their individual exchanges.

Under the guidance of the Co-Lead Scholars, the research teams will then collaborate virtually, utilizing an online platform throughout the program period. The entire cohort will gather to share progress and initial outcomes at a mid-term meeting to be held in a location TBD.

At the end of the program, Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars will convene for the third and final meeting to share the results of their collaborative work and report on the achievement of program objectives and the local, national, and/or regional implications of their findings. Scholars will disseminate policy-relevant recommendations, describe the concrete steps they have taken in implementing their projects and models, and share strategies for moving their recommendations from theory to practice.

The Fulbright Program in Russia. Institute of International Education.
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