Introductory speech: Reframing Arctic Education Research

Diane Hirshberg, Prof. of Education Policy, University of Alaska Anchorage, USA

For decades, social scientists have worked to help both policymakers and members of the broader scientific research community recognize the critical importance of social science research in understanding the Arctic, especially around how the peoples of the North are affected by and are responding to rapid social, ecological, economic and environmental changes. However, the role of education in these processes of adaptation and sustainability has not been well explored, and often has been overlooked by those developing Arctic research priorities on behalf of governmental organizations as well as foundations and NGOs.

Education research is not just about how to create better science curriculum for high school students, but it seems that most U.S. federal agencies funding Arctic research as well as many Arctic natural scientists view it that way. In this talk I argue that we need to reframe Arctic education research as the way to address how we build the capacity of individuals and communities to respond to the critical issues and challenges in the Arctic, whether economic, social or climate. Education, both formal and non-institutional, is the key to building resilience and adaptation among humans in the Arctic.


Main Keynote: Listening to young children: Rights and respect 

Sue Dockett, Prof. in Early Childhood Studies, Charles Sturt University, Australia

While the perspectives of some children are sought and considered in relation to some family, educational or community decisions, not all children are accorded this opportunity. This presentation considers the rights of young children to be consulted about issues that affect them, based on the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, and some of the strategies that have been used to demonstrate children’s agency. Using examples shared by children about their experiences of community and starting school, the presentation reflects on young children’s experiences, perspectives and expectations and explores ways in which these can contribute to broad social discussions. Particular attention is drawn to the social justice implications of adults recognising the many ways in which children share their views, and to listening and responding to these in respectful ways.


The plenary session is chaired by Michael Castellini, UArctic Vice-President Academic, University of Alaska Fairbanks.