Scenarios Workshop Led by UAF Alums Issues Final Report

October 9, 2019

Maureen Biermann

Hands place stickers on large notepaper as part of an activity at the Scenarios Workshop
Delegates participate in an activity at the Maritime Futures 2035 Scenarios Workshop in 2018. Credit: Berill Blair

A final report has been published on the SALIENSEAS Maritime Futures 2035: the Arctic Region scenarios workshop, hosted by the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen in November 2018.  The Center for Arctic Policy Studies was pleased to support the participation of CAPS affiliate Dr. Douglas Cost (Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks) as workshop Facilitator. Dr. Berill Blair, also a CAPS Affiliate (and currently a researcher at the Environmental Policy Group at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands) served as Workshop Lead and co-author of the report with Dr. Marc Müller-Stoffels of denamics GmbH.

According to Blair, “The SALIENSEAS project works to improve the availability of information services for maritime sectors operating in Arctic waters. For example, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute is developing a seasonal sea ice forecast service. SALIENSEAS activities are testing ways in which this service can be optimized to reduce uncertainties inherent in sailing in ice infested waters....The scenario workshop in Copenhagen brought together a group of people who have expertise in Arctic maritime issues, from icebreaking services, to ice piloting, policy, tourism and metocean services."

The workshop and report involved the collaboration of three UAF alums. Müller-Stoffels earned his PhD in Physics at UAF in 2012, and then continued at the university as a Research Assistant Professor and Program Director at the Alaska Center for Energy and Power until 2017, when he returned home to Germany to found his own company, denamics GmbH. Blair and Cost have known each other since their time as students in the Resilience and Adaptation Program at UAF, where Blair received her PhD in Natural Resources and Sustainability and Cost received his PhD in Cross-Cultural Education and Futures Studies. All three built and honed their skills working with scenarios during this time. "For example, through the multi-year Northern Alaska Scenario Project," reflects Blair, "I had the chance to collaborate with Alaska coastal communities about planning for future sustainability. Experiences such as this were invaluable, and the skills learned still important to my work. I benefited greatly from the Arctic expertise of my mentors. I especially relied on advisors at the Department of Political Science and the International Arctic Research Center."

Man stands in front of projector screen, speaking to a group of people.
UAF Assistant Professor Doug Cost facilitates the Maritime Futures 2035 scenarios workshop. Credit: Berill Blair

Because the SALIENSEAS workshop used a scenarios approach to address its future-oriented questions about safe and sustainable Arctic maritime operations, Blair knew she wanted to draw upon the skills of her past colleagues and collaborators: "I knew UAF’s Doug Cost as a scenario expert and decided early on that the workshop will benefit greatly if Doug were able to facilitate. Thankfully this was made possible by the Center for Arctic Policy Studies. The one day workshop had a tight agenda packed with activities that normally take place over 2 days, and each required careful setup and explanation upfront in order to conclude on time. Doug’s leadership at the workshop contributed significantly to the success of the day.”

The full report of the workshop can be downloaded as a pdf here, and includes an Executive Summary, a comprehensive summary of results including visual illustration of scenarios, technical documentation, and details about the workshop proceedings. More information about the project can be found here.