UAF students, faculty in Model Arctic Council in Finland

November 20, 2018

University Relations

Photo courtesy of Brandon Boylan.
Photo courtesy of Brandon Boylan.

Ten UAF graduate and undergraduate students, along with faculty members Brandon Boylan and Mary Ehrlander, participated in a Model Arctic Council program at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland, in October. UAF student participants included Lauren Baranik, Denae Benson, Craig Chythlook, Kevin Huo, Mike Letzring, Line Persson, Kerstin Schley, Russ Vanderlugt, Sam Urban and Leanna Williams.

Fifty-one students representing 32 universities participated. Students simulated the work of three Arctic Council working groups: Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna; Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response; and Sustainable Development. Students addressed the issue balancing oil and gas development with environmental protection. Assuming the roles of AC delegates and other stakeholders in the Arctic, their deliberations culminated in a declaration stating positions on which the member states established consensus.

In a final performance before actual Arctic Council senior Arctic officials and other delegates, students simulated a ministerial meeting of the forum and earned a standing ovation. With continued and enhanced interaction, Boylan and Ehrlander hope to earn the Arctic Council’s official endorsement of the program.

The 2018 MAC program evolved from the UArctic's Model Arctic Council Thematic Network, initiated in 2015 by Ehrlander and Boylan, co-directors of UAF's Arctic and Northern studies program and professors of history and political science, respectively, in 2015. The program teaches students about Arctic issues and the work of the Arctic Council by having them simulate the work of the high-level intergovernmental forum. The first fully international MAC took place in March 2016 at UAF during Arctic Science Summit Week.

The program rotates around the circumpolar North, in tandem with the current chair of the Arctic Council, with the potential for smaller, regional programs in the interim years. UAF hosted the inaugural program when the United States was the chair, and the University of Lapland hosted the 2018 program when Finland assumed the role. The University of Akureyri will host the next fully international program in 2020, when Iceland takes over.

For more information email Brandon Boylan at