Diversity in and opportunities for the integration of Circumpolar health into Arctic-focused courses in higher education

Theme 4. Education
Session Name 4.1 Educating next generation leaders for Arctic & global challenges
Presentation Type Poster
Author(s) Sappho Gilbert (Yale School of Public Health, USA)
Abstract text

Background and Purpose:  Higher education in and about the circumpolar north has long been a priority area for the Arctic Council states, with particular emphasis under the current Finnish Chairmanship.  Given the public health challenges faced by communities across the Arctic, it is important for pedagogy and practice to understand how health is incorporated in relevant coursework.  This aim of this review was to identify syllabi for university classes focused on the Arctic and analyze their inclusion of circumpolar health.


Methodology: A systematic review strategy was applied to a public search engine.  Syllabi met inclusion if they were university-level, in English, and encompassing of two concepts: 1) the Arctic overall or a specific circumpolar region and 2) human health or wellness.


Results:  The synthesized syllabi spanned four countries: Canada, Norway, Denmark (Greenland), and the United States.  Primary departmental affiliation for these courses included the physical, natural, and social sciences. Health was most often taught in the context of subsistence, food security, or development.  Indigenous knowledge and notions of wellness were frequently included in assigned readings but rarely a central feature of the instructional framework.


Conclusions:  Public health is an innately interdisciplinary field with far-reaching impacts, as evidenced by its diverse and innovative embedding in Arctic-themed university classes.  Further study should involve outreach to UArctic network and other institutions to acquire non-publicly available syllabi. This would enrich this analysis and potentially identify other pedagogical trends in and opportunities for circumpolar health in higher education, especially those inclusive of indigenous health wisdom.