New Educational Opportunities

The Arctic has begun to take a central role on the world stage. Commercial ship traffic through the Arctic has increased 100-fold in just the last decade, due to the rapid loss of summer sea ice. Investment in oil and mineral exploration has increased. Fishing interests anticipate the expansion of commercial fisheries into Arctic waters. Indigenous people worry about impacts to subsistence resources and are increasingly asserting their rights in national and international policy forums. Questions of international law as it pertains to the Arctic are being debated at the highest levels of government.

Understanding and addressing the interwoven environmental, social, economic, and political changes occurring in the Arctic requires knowledge drawn from multiple disciplines. Students at UW have the opportunity to pursue this understanding of the Polar regions through disciplinary and inter-disciplinary courses of study at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Arctic Studies Minor for undergraduates

The Arctic Studies Minor, coordinated by the Jackson School for International Studies and the School of Oceanography, provides undergraduates with opportunity to gain skills relevant to addressing major science and policy issues in the Arctic. To complete the Arctic Studies Minor, students are required to take a series of core courses and electives that ensure basic competence in key domains of Arctic research, from the dynamics of climate to terrestrial and oceanographic processes, ecological dynamics, and historical and political issues surrounding indigenous and other Arctic communities. For more details, see the Arctic Minor website.

The Arctic as an Emerging Region  for Graduate Students

The University of Washington offers numerous graduate level classes focused on or highly relevant to the polar regions.  A new seminar offers graduate students a unique opportunity to explore interdisciplinary policy-relevant themes with faculty and students from diverse fields of study.  In “The Arctic as an Emerging Region”, students develop research projects that will lead to publishable manuscripts.  Over an academic year, students explore interdisciplinary themes related to the Arctic as a dramatically changing region, draft proposals for cross-disciplinary research with societal or policy relevance, conduct research and submit a manuscript for publication. The Arctic seminar is offered jointly by faculty from Anthropology, Canadian Studies, and Oceanography.

Competitive proposals from students taking the seminar (or submitted independently) are eligible for financial support from the Canadian Studies Center.  Funding comes from a grant by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, part of which was awarded to the Canadian Studies Center for “Re-Imagining Area Studies in the 21st Century: The Arctic as an Emerging Global Region.” More information, including links to the classes and student projects as they develop, is available at the Arctic Seminar web site.

Opportunities for postdoctoral researches

The Quaternary Research Center, Applied Physics Lab, and the College of the Environment have jointly launched a new post-doctoral program, with multiple positions available in Polar studies – both natural and social sciences. Post-doctoral researchers will collaborate with UW faculty and participate in workshops, seminars, and other activities in ways that strengthen their advanced education, and simultaneously help to further integrate multi-disciplinary polar scholarship across the University of Washington campus and beyond.  For more information, see details at the Postdoctoral page on this web site.

Arctic Fulbright

Both graduate and undergraduate students, and faculty and staff and the public, have the wonderful opportunity each year to learn a visiting scholar from Canada, under the The Canada Fulbright Visiting Chair in Arctic Studies. The Fulbright chair brings scholars, scientists, practitioners and leaders involved in Arctic affairs to the University of Washington to build new synergies among those working in the circumpolar North and to reinforce relations between UW and Canadian scholars. Among other activities, each Fulbright chair offers a seminar on Arctic issues to undergraduate and graduate students, expanding the educational reach of the Future of Ice Initiative to otherwise inaccessible international figures. For more details on the program and the current Chair visit the Canadian Studies Center site.