The Arctic, including the Barents and West Nordic Regions, has always and continues to be closely integrated into and reflect international order.

The Cold War Arctic reflected US-Soviet bipolarity. Post-Cold War US-unipolarity allowed for Circumpolar liberal Arctic cooperation in the Arctic Council, etc. Now the Arctic is divided in a US-led NATO Arctic and Russia reaching out to the BRICS+ as general world order. Science diplomacy was easier during post-Cold War US unipolarity, but is more important to navigating globally and regionally dangerous changes to international order. Science diplomacy contributed to navigate the end of the Cold War as celebrated by the 2023 Vilhjálmur Stefánsson Memorial Lecture at UNAK by Professor emeritus Oran Young (UCSB) and the 2024 Mohn Prize for Professor Young from Academia Borealis, Tromsø Research Foundation, and UiT.

We are facing fundamental shifts in international and Arctic order reflected in the war in Ukraine and Sino-American competition. These shifts in order are perhaps more complex than previous shifts in international order, because of more diverse global actors, science and technology, and earth-system changes as the climate crisis, all present in the Arctic. These complexities call upon science diplomacy with more knowledgeable policies and strategies and deeper mutual insights and knowledge, which requires deeper research and educational cooperation, including with “the other.” Science diplomacy is a long term endeavor that requires long term collaboration and personal relationships.

Science diplomacy is questioned by concerns of civil-military dual-use and intelligence interference as well as moral panics concerning intellectual exchange with “the other.” Dual use and intelligence interference are practical problems with practical solutions of information management, classification and security clearance. Moral panics are harder to counter and potentially destructive at individual and society levels.

The lecture was part of the activities of the UArctic Institute: Northern Research Forum.

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