The Social and Human Working Group (SHWG) covers an extensive area of expertise, and the members are experienced and distinguished scholars of a broad spectrum of disciplines stretching from languages and literature, via science diplomacy to health transitions. The SHWG is composed of 33 members from 21 countries. Additionally, five early-career IASC Fellows have participated in our efforts since 2014, and we also receive support from a Secretary located at the Stefansson Arctic Institute in Iceland. The SHWG is an important IASC participant in the collaboration with the other two international research organizations with observer status to the Arctic Council, International Arctic Social Science Association (IASSA) and University of the Arctic (UArctic). We are also well connected to the Arctic Council Social, Economy and Culture Expert Group (SECEG).
The scientific scope of the SHWG includes all aspects of social sciences, humanities and health research in the Arctic, as well as their connections with other IASC Working Groups. It is important to integrate the social and human perspectives into international efforts to address issues of climate and environmental change. Not only does human behavior have an enormous influence on the environment, but changing natural environments also, directly and indirectly, affect people.
The SHWG 5-year work plan strives to achieve IASC’s vision. The plan is built on SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) goals and includes efforts to strengthen communication with national science communities and adherent national bodies, and support to a variety of initiatives.
Broadly speaking, SHWG activities are focused around five scientific foci:
• Arctic residents and change
• Histories, perceptions, and representations of the Arctic
• Securities, governance, and law
• Natural resource(s)/ use/ exploitation and development: past, present, future
• Human health and well-being
As demonstrated by the supported activities in 2017/18, SWHG members address these topics in many ways: by going into depth on core concepts, by bringing a global perspective to the Arctic, and by working closely with local stakeholders. In addition, the SHWG continues to develop its cross-cutting activities along the research priorities that emerged from the ICARP III – Roadmap for the Future. The ICARPIII process concluded that more research is needed into ‘Cultural Responses to Long-Term Arctic Change.’ In light of this, the SHWG continued to support the Sustainable Arctic Infrastructure Forum (SAIF) and launched a new cross-cutting initiative entitled ‘Long-term impacts, vulnerability and resilience in Arctic social-ecological systems’ (SESs).
If you have any questions about the IASC Social and Human Working Group, please get in touch with any of our working group members. Our annual meetings, held during the Arctic Science Summit Week, are open to the public. We welcome the involvement of the interested scientific community in helping to guide future initiatives and sustain on-going projects.
For information on the next SHWG meeting, see the POLAR2018 website.