Please visit the Cross-Cutting Activities page for more information on upcoming activities co-sponsored by the Social & Human Working Group.
When: 12 - 19 November 2019 | Where: Finland, Norway and Russia
Contact: Lassi Heininen
Northern Sustainable Development Forum
When: 24 - 28 September 2019 | Where: Yakutsk, Sakha Republic (Russia)
Contact: Yulia Zaika
On 24-28 September 2019 Yakutsk city hosted the Northern Sustainable Development Forum which gathered more than 100 representatives from different regions of Russia and countries including China, Japan, Korea, USA, Canada, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden.
One of the missions of the Forum is to connect and open dialogue between different groups of Arctic and Northern stakeholders in order to facilitate the human well-being and balanced existence in complex socio-ecological systems of the Arctic. To ensure such mission the program of forum has been structured the way it could include a number of venues and proper conditions for communication between people and stakeholders at the interregional and international levels – plenary and themed sessions, round tables, institutional and B2B meetings, lectures, master classes and active individual dialogues. The greater attention within the NSDF program has been paid to the young scientists and indigenous groups.
A number of important agreements has been signed along the Forum’s days with regional administrations, international and national organizations, big companies on implementation of joint interdisciplinary projects by creating international experts’ teams.
Scientific discussions and workshops attracted more than 50 scientists from different institutions with an interest and research devoted to the Northern regions and their sustainability. The overarching goal of discussion was to understand how the quality of life of population can be improved, and which mechanisms to support sustainable development in the cold-climate regions work more effectively and can be used as model for other northern territories within the circumarctic community. We expect NSDF to become an annual platform for international cooperation and discussions on Northern sustainability.
• NSDF successfully implemented the multi-stakeholder dialogue within the Forum's program and discussed the possible ways to improve and facilitate human well-being and sustainability including balanced existence within the socio-ecological systems of the Arctic and the Northern regions.
• A number of agreements on enhanced cooperation in the context of Arctic science, business and culture among the different groups of stakeholders was signed within the Forum which in the foreseeable future will help to increase the level of communication among the important Arctic stakeholders.
• NSDF is preparing the recommendations and road map for future strengthening of Northern sustainability based on the results from discussions and community feedback.
When: 22 - 23 August 2019 | Where: Uppsala (Sweden)
Contact: Corine Wood-Donnelly
The Arctic region is considered as a barometer for discussions of sustainable development, global warming or human security, but these conversations rarely include futures underpinned by principles of justice. As a frontier for economic development, the Arctic should also be considered as a frontier for considering new types of social, political, economic and environmental ideas. The motivating principle of this workshop was to consider foundations for a new framework of thought that offers a fair deal to the Arctic as it is increasingly incorporated into global processes.
The workshop consisted of four research sessions: normative justice, climate change and sustainability, resources issues, and society. The research presentations included perspectives from scholars from a variety of disciplines including: geography, law, ethics, political science, anthropology and sociology. Professor Don Mitchell (Uppsala University) delivered a keynote lecture on “The Landscape of Justice and Critical Research Agendas”, which explained that geographies of injustice often include unrecognised parts of society, who are often ‘hidden’ in plain sight and challenged us to broaden our understanding of stakeholders in the Arctic.
• The notion of justice provides a useful tool for developing a research agenda that seeks progressive solutions for achieving sustainable development in the Arctic.
• Multi-disciplinary perspectives provide richer understandings and interpretations of the landscape for Arctic sustainability research.
• A major challenge to just economic futures lies in overcoming the restrictions imposed by social, economic and territorial boundary making by the state.
Long-term Perspectives of Social-Ecological Systems
When: 24 May 2019 | Where: Arkhangelsk (Russia)
Contact: Andrey Petrov
A session on "Long-term Perspectives of Social-Ecological Systems" took place on 24 of May 2019 within the Arctic Science Summit Week held in Arkhangelsk on 22-30 May 2019. The session aimed at exploring of how communities and stakeholders deal with combined challenges from climate change, political, economic and resource pressures, changes to the global order and new social-cultural realities and what the future might hold for the Arctic.
The session brought together six scholars from various disciplines focusing on social-ecological systems, the interaction of society and place, and the future social-ecological change scenarios. The presentations contributed to the understanding of human introduction of invasive species, vulnerability of social-ecological systems to global change, food insecurity, climate change as well as economic and social changes, and indigenous knowledge across different Arctic regions, including Alaska, Canada, Russian Lapland and Siberia.
• Arctic social-ecological systems face drastic challenges and an extensive interdisciplinary assessment is required.
• To assess social-ecological systems not only research data is necessary, but also consideration of indigenous knowledge is essential.
• A joint special issue in a peer-reviewed journal might be published in the future.
Permafrost and Pastoral Land Use in Mongolia
When: 20 - 24 March 2019 | Where: Ulaanbaatar (Russia)
Contact: J. Otto Habeck
The "Permafrost and Culture" Action Group (supported by IPA and IASC) intends to make permafrost dynamics understandable and relevant for social-sciences research in Inner Asia and the circumpolar North. Our ambition is a comparison of how local inhabitants deal with environmental change in different parts of Asia’s vast area of permafrost.
The workshop in Ulaanbaatar was attended by 20 researchers from Mongolia and beyond, it included a half-day seminar with students of geography and a field excursion to the permafrost research site at Terelj. The workshop revealed new aspects of permafrost distribution and the interplay of cryosphere, hydrology, vegetation, pastoralism, and socio-economic setting. Though not located in the Arctic, large parts of Mongolia are characterized by permafrost. Similar to neighbouring Siberia, pastoralism is an important source of income and subsistence for many inhabitants. This form of land use is strongly dependent on environmental conditions. In permafrost regions, changes in the landscape and thus in the resource base may proceed rather rapidly and in unprecedented ways. Reversely, animal husbandry may also have an impact on local and regional environmental conditions – and on permafrost dynamics – as was demonstrated in earlier workshops (in Yakutsk and Vorkuta) of this research initiative.
• Participants discussed the need for better access to more accurate meteorological data, in particular regarding changing precipitation patterns at local scale; and for a more nuanced understanding of how landscape aspect, snow and ice conditions, changes in plant species, grazing and logging all interact locally with permafrost dynamics.
• Traditional (unwritten) and new (officially established) land-use management strategies may help promote sustainable pasture and forest use in permafrost areas, but they must reflect changes in herd composition (e.g., the recent increase in cashmere goats), long-term inter-regional migration of herders and herds within Mongolia, as well as legal and technological changes.
• Drawing on successful examples from Central Yakutia (Sakha Republic, Russian Federation), participants recommend more frequent knowledge exchanges between local herders, social and environmental scientists in different communities across northern Mongolia.
Gender in the Arctic
In the Arctic, queer identities and issues are rarely discussed in public, especially in Indigenous communities. Besides the common heteronormative discrimination in society, many Indigenous queer individuals are ostracized in their communities and as the result, relocate to more urban settings. The workshop examined these experiences and practices from both an academic and activist perspective. It presented Indigenous perspectives on queerness and interrogates assumptions of Indigenous heteronormativity. The workshop consisted of three sessions: an academic panel on queer Indigenous studies, an activist panel on queer Indigenous experiences and reflections and a concluding academic-activist roundtable discussing the future prospects and challenges of queering Indigeneity and the need for queer Indigenous studies in the Arctic.
Subscribe to the mailing list if you want to list your gender-related activities and institutions on the website of the IASSA WG Gender in the Arctic. More ideas for upcoming workshops, your willingness to conceptualise/co-host a workshop as well as contributions to a broader discussion are welcome.
Potential topics for next workshops include:
• Additional aspects of intersectionality.
• Creativity and arts.
• Mental well-being or security.
Long-Term Perspective on Social-Ecological Change - Current and Future Change, Sustainability and Resilience in the Polar Regions
The Polar Regions are undergoing rapid environmental, socio-cultural and economic transformation. Monitoring current change and anticipating future developments are becoming more critical than ever. This session aimed at exploring how polar communities and stakeholders deal with the combined challenges from climate change, political, economic and resource pressures, changes to the global order and new socio-cultural realities and what the future might hold for the Polar Regions. We recognize the opportunities presented by integrated interdisciplinary approaches developed within the biophysical, social, humanities and arts scholarship and invite researchers with interest in socio-ecological systems, the interaction of society and place, or in exploring the futures in a methodological or even speculative manner to contribute to this session.
• Social-ecological systems approach is well positioned to improve understanding Arctic change.
• An interdisciplinary focus on a long-term dynamics is both effective for unpacking ongoing and future changes and necessary for identifying long-term resilience, adaptive capacities and sustainability in SES.
• Arctic communities are coping with rapid, formidable and often irreversible environmental and social changes that fundamentally affect human-environmental relationships and social systems.
• Engagement of the Indigenous knowledge is critical for understanding socio-ecological dynamics at different time scales.
Calotte Academy 2018
The Calotte Academy is an annual travelling symposium, international scientific forum and doctoral school in the North Calotte, the northernmost region of Europe. It is designed to promote interdisciplinary discourse as well as academic and policy-oriented dialogue between senior researchers, early career scientists and advanced graduate students and other northern stakeholders, such as policymakers, civil servants and community leaders and planners. It is a “school of dialogue” and it is participatory by nature: the principle is to share knowledge and experiences between scientists and communities.
The Academy shed light on Arctic perceptions in the context of the regional and globalized Arctic theoretically and holistically from many angles and disciplinary approaches, from academic and policy-oriented ones – including indigeneity, development, exploration and exploitation, shipping and infrastructure, geopolitics and tourism. It discussed on Arctic perceptions from the perspectives of past(s), present(s) and future(s), and from global, or international, Arctic and local contexts in the European Arctic. By bringing researchers from all around the world together with local experts and other stakeholders, the Academy’s participants learned from the experience embedded in local cultures of the various stakeholders of the European Arctic.
Final reports of the Calotte Academy can be found on the Academy’s website.
• High geopolitical stability in the Arctic region relies on, and could be deepened by, functioning interplays between science and politics, between scientific knowledge and local/indigenous knowledge, as well as between material and non-material values. It is thus important to maintain and further develop such interplays.
• Adaptation to new technologies and standards offers opportunities but also challenges the social, economic, and environmental integrity of the Arctic region. It is important for local stakeholders and communities to have the means, expertise and capacity on contributing to their development in order to benefit from and strengthen their potential advantages.
Permafrost dynamics and indigenous land use in the Northern Urals
When: 24-27 September 2017 | Where: Vorkuta (Russia) | Contact: Joachim Otto Habeck
While it is often assumed that indigenous livelihoods in the Far North will inevitably suffer from permafrost degradation under conditions of a warming climate, the actual linkages between permafrost degradation and renewable resource use are still unclear. Considering the potential of mobile pastoralism to modify the natural environment to some degree, it is necessary to examine the interplay of land use, vegetation, climate, hydrological and cryological processes in more detail, taking into account the diversity of regional and local conditions. With this in mind, the IPA Action Group “Permafrost and Culture” conducted an interdisciplinary workshop in Vorkuta in September 2017, addressing the link between reindeer husbandry and landscape dynamics in the lowland tundra areas on both sides of the Northern Urals. The workshop complements previous studies on permafrost and land use (Central Yakutia, Republic of Sakha) and contributes to establishing a comparative circumpolar perspective.
Understanding Peace in the Arctic
When: June 2017 | Where: Tromsø (Norway) | Contact: Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv
The Arctic is often claimed to be a unique region, both for its natural environment, as well as the peaceful political conditions that continue to prevail, despite the tensions and challenges taking place on a global scale. Cooperation in the Arctic has shown to be robust and in some ways detached from disagreements and tensions developing elsewhere in international policy. The Understanding Peace in the Arctic conference was a timely international event that brought together international and local researchers that contribute to the understanding of Arctic geopolitics and society, bringing expertise in natural sciences, social sciences, and the arts. The purpose of the conference was to ask what is “Peace” in the Arctic, in which ways, or how, does our research across the disciplines play a role in contributing to peace in the Arctic, and how is our research relevant to developing policy?
Multidisciplinary communication and the governance of evolving global dynamics in the Arctic
When: 6 April & 12 June 2017 | Where: Prague (Czech Republic) & Umeå (Sweden) | Contact: Justiina Dahl
Specific evolving socio-political and material global dynamics, such as the progress of unprecedented anthropomorphic global warming and the rise of climate change skepticism, put increasing pressure on multidisciplinary communication. This project explores whether the notion of 'boundary object' from science and technology studies could be used to facilitate the further development of multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder communication in the context of evolving, global Arctic governance. In its original framework, the concept was used to examine how the viewpoints and interests of actors inhabiting different social worlds, such as natural and technical scientists, philanthropists, and recreational hunters, have been able to be accounted for in the organization of cooperation for scientific work in complex institutional settings. Two conference sessions, one during Arctic Science Summit Week 2017 and the other during IX International Congress for Arctic Social Sciences, were planned to assist in exploring whether it could also be utilized to facilitate the translation and communication of different normative, epistemic and ontological assumptions of different socio-political actors and scientific disciplines in the development of new, sustainable global governance.
• The notion of “boundary objects” from Science and Technology Studies offers one way to enter the analysis of why specific initiatives that include conflicting interests, many actors and a need for collaboration thrive and others do not.
• An exercise of translating and discussing the different social worlds present and interconnected to work sites of scientists is one way of acknowledging silenced or implicated actors and biases in research design i.e. rising out from differences in temporal and spatial scales.
• In translating visions and reaching out to new audiences, visual interpretations or story lines can sometimes work as better tools in initial communication than mere numeric data.
• In cross-disciplinary research planning there should be enough time planned for interchange between the different paradigms. This ensures that there is a respect for the differences in them. It also lessens the tendency of setting different paradigms in hierarchical position against each other.
Long-term Perspectives on Arctic Social-Ecological Systems
When: 4 April 2017 | Where: Prague (Czech Republic) | Contact: Peter Jordan
A long-term, interdisciplinary perspective is needed to better understand past human responses to changing Arctic environments and present transformations and in turn strengthen the knowledge base for future sustainability strategies. The use of complimentary chronological perspectives (palaeo, contemporary and future) can provide mutually-reinforcing insights into factors that contribute to vulnerability and resilience within the closely interconnected social-ecological systems (SESs) of the Arctic. A conference session will be convened during Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) 2017 to assist in integrating historical, archaeological and long-term environmental and climatic records in order to improve understanding of the ‘palaeo’ aspects of Arctic SESs. In order to build on the ‘palaeo’ outcomes of the ASSW 2017 conference session, opportunities will be explored to convene subsequent conference sessions at ASSW 2018 in Davos, Switzerland to explore developments affecting contemporary Arctic SESs, and at ASSW 2019 in Arkhangelsk, Russia to explore opportunities to support future sustainability.
• Launches the SHWGs new theme of ‘Long-Term Perspectives on Arctic Social Ecological Systems’.
• Goal was to integrate archaeological, historical and ecological datasets to investigate Arctic SESs from a ‘palaeo’ perspective, and to better understand what contributes to their long-term fragility, resilience and long-term sustainability.
• Papers had wide temporal and full circumpolar geographic coverage; papers also presented by several Russian colleagues.
• Early Career Scientists played a central roles (both as speakers and as co-chair).
• Papers will be published in a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Quaternary International (Elsevier).