Arctic Science in the Public Interest

How can the products of Arctic research be put to good use both in providing policy relevant knowledge that can improve the quality of public choices relating to Arctic concerns and in enhancing the quality of education in and on the Arctic? Arctic science in the past has been a somewhat obscure field of study. Today, that is changing as the importance of the Arctic rises among those seeking to understand planetary processes (e.g. climate change and variability) as well as among those endeavoring to grasp the meaning of the idea of sustainable development and, more specifically, the forces that determine the resilience of human communities in the face of rapid and multi-dimensional change.

As a result, there is a growing effort in the Circumpolar North to find better ways to bring the insights of Arctic science to bear on issues in the public eye as well as to strengthen the education of Arctic residents from the level of primary school to the level of higher education. Important initiatives in this realm have emerged in recent years, including the establishment of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Northern Research Forum (NRF) in the realm of research and the launching of the University of the Arctic in the area of education. Work conducted under this theme will examine critically the successes and failures of these initiatives as well as important concerns that have yet to receive focused attention. The goal will be not only to advance our general knowledge of the role of science in contemporary societies but also to address applied concerns regarding the contributions of science to policy-making and education in the Arctic.