Model Arctic Council

Students participate at the Model Arctic Council event at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in March 2016.
Erinn Drage and Justin Fisch report that they've been wearing their ASSW vests all over Alaska and the Yukon. Here they are at Denali National Park.

The Model Arctic Council 2016 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

The Model Arctic Council (MAC) simulation engages students from throughout the circumpolar north and beyond in a collaborative, experiential learning exercise to expand their knowledge of salient challenges and concerns in the Arctic.  The Model Arctic Council 2016 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks marks the 20th anniversary of the Arctic Council. The program is a Thematic Network within the UArctic and is organized through collaboration among thematic network leads in the Arctic 8. Our vision is that a UArctic member institution in the country chairing the Arctic Council will host the MAC in even years. Thus in 2018, the University of Lappland in Finland will host the MAC, and in 2020, an Icelandic university will host the MAC, and so on.

The objectives of the MAC are to: 1) develop students’ knowledge of the Arctic as a region, of  circumpolar politics, and of northern Indigenous peoples; 2) increase students’ understanding of Arctic Council objectives and processes; 3) prepare students to assume leadership roles in the circumpolar north; and 4) enhance student and faculty collaboration among UArctic institutions. 

The MAC 2016 at UAF took place as part of Arctic Science Summit Week, a 10-day conference that brought researchers and policymakers from throughout the world to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to advance research on the Arctic. The MAC program immediately preceded a meeting of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials (SAOs) in Fairbanks. Organizers chose this timing in the hope that MAC participants could present their final Declaration to the SAOs at the culmination of the program.

The MAC 2016 was the first fully international Model Arctic Council. Sixty-five students representing thirteen birth countries and thirty-two universities participated. They were selected from over one hundred applicants. Students acted in their assigned roles as Member State, Permanent Participant or Observer delegates to the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) working group or the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG); or as Senior Arctic Officials (SAOs) or Ministers of the Arctic Council Member States. Students simulated working group meetings, followed by SAO meetings and finally a Ministerial meeting.

Within each working group delegates focused on two projects or issues:

PAME Theme I: Cruise Ship Tourism

PAME Theme II: Managing Maritime Traffic for Marine Resource Development

SDWG Project I; Improving Health in Arctic Communities through Safe and Affordable Access to Household Running Water and Sewer: Water, Sanitation, and Health (WASH)

SDWG Project II: Reducing Suicide in Indigenous Groups-Strengths United through Networks (Rising Sun)

At the Closing Ceremony of the MAC 2016, student participants presented to an audience of Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials and other delegates, UArctic leaders, University of Alaska Fairbanks administrators, and others the Fairbanks Declaration, which addressed the issues on which the MAC participants had deliberated and produced resolutions. The Fairbanks Declaration was modeled on the Ottawa and Iqualuit Declarations. U.S. Special Representative to the Arctic Admiral Robert Papp, U.S. Ambassador David Balton, UArctic President Lars Kullerud and UArctic Board of Governors Chair Brian Rogers addressed the students, congratulating them on their work in the Model Arctic Council and on their commitment to resolving the challenges the Arctic faces in the coming decades.

Overwhelmingly participants have praised the program, giving it high marks for the value of the experiential learning exercise and the quality of the intercultural exchange. The vast majority of participants say they would recommend the program to others.

Universities represented in the Model Arctic Council 2016:

Carlton University (Ottawa, Canada)

Dartmouth College (USA)

Duke University (USA)

Laval University (Quebec City, Canada)

McGill University (Montreal, Canada)

Mount Saint University (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (Russia

Northeastern Federal University (Yakutsk, Russia)

Northern Arctic Federal University (Archangel, Russia)

Northern Arizona University (USA)

Oregon State University (USA)

Oxford University (United Kingdom)

Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada)

Saint Petersburg State University (Russia)

State Polar Academy (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Umeå University (Sweden)

United States Coast Guard Academy (USA)

University of Akueryi (Iceland)

University of Alaska Anchorage (USA)

University of Alaska Fairbanks (USA)

University of Alberta (Canada)

University of Bergen (Norway)

University of Greenland

University of Northern British Columbia (Canada)

University of Quebec (Canada)

University of Saskatchewan (Canada)

University of Southern Denmark

University of Washington (USA)

University of Western Australia

University of Winnipeg (Canada)

Wilfred Laurier University (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)

York University (Toronto, Canada)


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