The Læra Institute regularly sponsors academic conference sessions on educational innovation and pedagogical best practice in Circumpolar Studies. We invite scholars, educators and practicioners to our sessions to give and discuss presentations on cutting-edge work in these areas, and we publish calls for abstracts on our news feed. Members of the Læra Institute Steering Committee also take part in academic conferences, symposia and workshops to introduce our work, and to discuss Circumpolar education more broadly.
Past Læra Institute conference sessions and appearances include (follow links for wrap-up notes and recordings):
- March 2021 — Scotland-Arctic Network Series (Glasgow, UK)
- May 2021 — 3rd UArctic Congress (Reykjavík, Iceland)
- June 2021 — 10th International Congress for Arctic Social Sciences (Arkhangelsk, Russia)
- September 2021 — Northern Forum Student Symposium for Circumpolar Research (Yakutsk, Russia)
- April 2022 — 7th UK Arctic Science Conference (Durham, UK)
- February 2023 — 25th Arctic Science Summit Week (Vienna, Austria)
Upcoming Læra Institute conference sessions include (follow links for call for abstracts):
- September 2023 — 8th UK Arctic Science Conference (Cambridge, UK)
- May 2024 — 4th UArctic Congress & 11th International Congress for Arctic Social Sciences (Bodø, Norway) — call for abstracts in due course
On 12th March 2021, the Læra Institute held our first faculty workshop, on the topic of 'Circumpolar Studies Is...'. The workshop took place online in two sessions—a 'Trans-Atlantic' session timed to cover North America and Europe, and a 'Trans-Pacific' session timed to cover Asia and western North America.
In our call for participation, we asked prospective workshop participants to consider what it means to say—academically, pedagogically and practically—that Circumpolar Studies is interdisciplinary, comparative, polyvocal, pedagogically diverse and interconnected. The ensuing discussion now serves to inform our on-going work to support Circumpolar Studies teaching and learning within UArctic. Some participants also provided written comments ahead of the workshop sessions.
The Læra Institute is most grateful to the 21 Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars from fourteen UArctic member institutions in five countries who took part in the workshop. Their oral and written contributions constitute a rich source of information and inspiration for faculty and students teaching and learning about the Circumpolar North. With the permission of all participants, we're pleased to be able to make available here a video recording of the 'Trans-Atlantic' session, as well as a document containing the transcript of that session. We regret that technical difficulties precluded the recording and transcription of the 'Trans-Pacific' session, but the document also contains notes from the 'Trans-Pacific' session moderator. The document contains copies of all written submissions as well.
The Læra Institute holds regular symposia for students studying the Circumpolar world at UArctic member institutions. We especially aim to serve undergraduate students, who tend to lack the same opportunities as graduate students have to take part in academic gatherings. Our symposia give students the opportunity to share their experiences of learning about the Circumpolar World, and to offer feedback on Circumpolar Studies programmes and teaching to faculty. They also offer students the chance to showcase their own research, and to take part in interactive experiential learning events such as Model Arctic Council.
Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed our plans to offer student symposia, we hope to be able to announce future symposia here soon. Thank you for your interest!
The Læra Institute holds regular workshops to support UArctic member faculty teaching Circumpolar Studies. These workshops focus on teaching about the Circumpolar world, rather than on researching it. Our workshops give UArctic member faculty the opportunity to share pedagogical best practice — educational innovation, teaching materials and techniques, and experience of different teaching styles and contexts, from traditional teaching in the classroom to alternative methods of experiential or on-the-land teaching. Our workshops also give faculty the chance to consider Circumpolar Studies in the round — its subject matter, methods and meaning.
Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed our plans for in-person faculty workshops, we hope to be able to announce future workshops here soon. Past Læra Institute faculty workshops have included:
The Læra Institute helps knit the UArctic together as a borderless academic community through our support for faculty and students studying the Circumpolar world. We are committed to fostering dialogue between UArctic member faculty teaching Circumpolar Studies, as well as to provide ways for students to make their voices heard. We aim to offer on a regular basis opportunities for faculty and students to come together:
- Faculty workshops — gatherings of UArctic member faculty teaching Circumpolar Studies, to share educational innovations, resources and best practice, and to disseminate pedagogical research
- Student symposia — gatherings of UArctic member students studying Circumpolar Studies, to share their learning experiences and feedback for faculty, as well as to showcase their own research
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The Læra Institute invites all UArctic member institutions to contribute to our work. Contributions can be as simple as using our educational resources in Circumpolar Studies programmes, or taking part in our opportunities for dialogue between faculty and students teaching and learning about the Circumpolar world. We are also happy to hear from UArctic faculty or students with views or suggestions about our work, or about Circumpolar Studies generally.
Some UArctic member institutions may wish get involved more directly with the Læra Institute by affiliating with us. Læra affiliated institutions will make a material contribution to the work of the Læra Institute, such as:
- Adding teaching materials to our bank of pedagogical resources
- Developing and sharing exemplar courses in Circumpolar Studies that meet our curriculum criteria
- Hosting one of our faculty workshops or student symposia
- Funding or part-funding any elements of our work
If you would like to explore affiliation with the Læra Institute, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Heather Nicol (Academic Co-Director)
Heather Nicol is Professor of Geography and Director of the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University in Canada, where she coordinates the Circumpolar Studies Diploma. She is the author of many articles and books exploring the political geography of the Circumpolar North, with a specific focus on the North American Arctic and Canada-US cross-border relations. In 2015-16 she was a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Fulbright Chair to the Center for Canadian Studies and Henry M Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. For further details, please see Dr Nicol's Trent University faculty profile.
Gary Wilson (Academic Co-Director)
Gary N Wilson is Professor of Political Science, and Coordinator of the Northern Studies Program, at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Canada. His research explores issues relating to governance and politics in the Circumpolar North, with a particular focus on comparative Inuit governance in the Canadian Arctic. He has served as the President of the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies, and as a Council Member for the International Arctic Social Sciences Association. For further details, please see Dr Wilson's UNBC faculty profile.
Anthony Speca (Managing Director)
Anthony Speca is Adjunct Professor at Trent University in Canada, and Honorary Lecturer at the University of East Anglia in the UK. He was formerly a senior policy official with the Government of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic. Through his educational consultancy Polar Aspect, he designs and manages Model Arctic Council (MAC) experiential learning events for universities, as well as the world's only MACs for secondary schools. He is especially interested in Arctic 'philosophical geography', particularly the ethical issues surrounding how we think, teach and make policy about the region. For further details, please see Dr Speca's professional biography.
Michel S Beaulieu is Associate Vice-Provost Academic, Director of the Community Zone and Professor of History at Lakehead University in Canada. He previously chaired Lakehead's Department of History and coordinated its Interdisciplinary Program in Northern Studies. He is also a Docent of Social Science History at the University of Helsinki, and a Docent of Modern North American History at the University of Oulu. He has been involved with UArctic Circumpolar Studies for over a decade, teaching courses, and updating and reforming curricula. For further details, please see Dr Beaulieu's Lakehead University faculty profile.
Douglas Causey is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage in the USA, Arctic Fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, Global Fellow of the Wilson Center, and Principal Investigator at the US Department of Homeland Security's Arctic Domain Awareness Center of Excellence. He offers several courses with the UArctic Circumpolar Studies programme, including 'Arctic Environmental Security'. He and his students conduct field research across the North American Arctic, particularly on questions of climate change and environmental security. For further details, please see Dr Causey's professional biography.
Astri Dankertsen is Associate Professor of Social Sciences, and Head of Division for Research on Environment, International Relations, the Arctic and Security, at Nord University in Norway. A sociologist by training, her research has been mostly concerned with Sámi and Indigenous issues, youth, gender and communities in the Arctic, and she teaches courses in both Circumpolar Studies and Sociology. She a member of the Council of Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, and she is also the leader of Sálto sámesiebrre, the local Sámi association in Salten, Norway. For further details, please see Dr Dankertsen's Nord faculty profile.
Amanda Graham is the Chair of the School of Liberal Arts at Yukon University, a founding member of UArctic. She has been enthusiastic advocate of Circumpolar Studies for more than twenty years, and she has taught UArctic's 'Introduction to the Circumpolar North' online course since piloting its initial delivery in 2001. She was involved in the early work to imagine the UArctic Circumpolar Studies programme, and she hopes to contribute to its future through the work of the Laera Institute. For further details, please see Ms Graham's Yukon University faculty profile.
The Læra Institute is managed by a Steering Committee drawn from faculty teaching at the following UArctic member institutions:
- Trent University, Canada (co-lead)
- University of Northern British Columbia, Canada (co-lead)
- Arctic State Agrotechnological University, Russia (partnership suspended)
- Lakehead University, Canada
- Nord University, Norway
- University of Alaska Anchorage, USA
- Yukon University, Canada
Læra Institute pedagogical resources will comprise supplementary Circumpolar Studies teaching resources that are ready for faculty to use or adapt. We especially encourage UArctic member faculty to affiliate with the Læra Institute and share their best Circumpolar Studies teaching resources with colleagues. All such resources will be properly attributed to their creators.
Our pedagogical resources are currently under development, and we will make them available here in due course. In the meanwhile, please feel free to browse the learning resources available from UArctic. Thank you for your interest!
Læra Institute exemplar courses will comprise an ‘off-the-shelf’ suite of Circumpolar Studies courses meeting our curriculum criteria, and designed for UArctic member faculty who wish to teach or modify pre-written material. Our exemplar courses will prove especially useful for UArctic member faculty developing Circumpolar Studies programmes for the first time, and who might benefit from the opportunity to build on an existing base.
Our exemplar courses are currently under development, and we will make them available here in due course. In the meanwhile, UArctic member faculty seeking pre-existing Circumpolar Studies courses may wish to explore the UArctic's original Circumpolar Studies core curriculum. Thank you for your interest!
The Læra Institute has prepared a curriculum development guide for UArctic member faculty who are developing, re-developing, enhancing or reviewing an undergraduate curriculum focused on the study of the Circumpolar North. UArctic and many of its members call such a curriculum ‘Circumpolar Studies’, but it sometimes also goes by the name ‘Arctic Studies’ or ‘Northern Studies’.
Our purpose is not to dictate a set of criteria for curriculum developers to follow. Rather, we offer a set of guiding principles to support them in developing curricula that address the Circumpolar North in all its diversity, and that facilitate meaningful learning outcomes.
We are therefore less concerned with identifying and enumerating specific topics of study, than with setting out a general approach to Circumpolar Studies curriculum development. Our starting points are the UArctic’s existing core Circumpolar Studies curriculum, which is designed to enable broad knowledge and understanding of the lands, peoples and critical issues of the Circumpolar North, as well as the UArctic’s core values as expressed in the UArctic’s academic endorsement principles:
- Circumpolar: operating across different regions of the North
- Inclusive: respecting multiple systems of knowledge
- Reciprocal: promoting multidisciplinary understanding
By supporting UArctic member faculty in this way, our curriculum development guide aims to strengthen existing UArctic academic standards, and to reinvigorate the connections between a UArctic-wide academic community of educators and students.
UArctic itself also offers various pathways through which members can collaborate on educational goals or pursue larger educational projects. These pathways include affiliation with the Læra Institute, strategic partnerships with other members or member consortia already offering Circumpolar Studies curricula, and the UArctic academic endorsement process leading to inclusion in the UArctic Study Catalogue.
Our curriculum development guide is a living document. We shall keep it under review, and we shall update it from time to time as the Circumpolar North—as well as our understanding of the region—changes.
Download a copy of 'Circumpolar Studies Curriculum Development (Version 1.0)' published in August 2022.