Fulbright Norway announces third Arctic Initiative

Platform for cooperation and research on Arctic issues brings eight nations together

Arctic Initiative

Photo: Are Føli / NTB scanpix A view of the Ny Ålesund settlement in Svalbard. Scholars involved in the Fulbright Arctic Initiative work in part to help ensure that human activities in the Arctic create sustainable and resilient communities.

The Norwegian American

UPDATE: The deadline for the application to Arctic Initiative III has been moved to Sept. 15, 2020. See the application website for more info.

Fulbright Norway, the organization that administers the United States’ Fulbright exchanges in Norway, is collecting resources to help launch the third Arctic Initiative. Arctic Initiative III, as the initiative is known, is a platform that brings scholars and researchers from the eight nations that make up the Arctic Council to collaborate on issues that affect the Arctic region. The program is funded by the U.S. State Department and its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The third installment of the initiative will focus on three major thematic areas: 1) Arctic security and cooperation; 2) Arctic infrastructure in a changing environment; and 3) community dimensions of health. In the past, scholars involved in the initiative have worked on issues such as resilient communities and sustainable economies.

In a period where climate change and growing population, as well as growing interest and infrastructure development in the High North are contributing to a fast-changing region, the kind of international collaboration that the Arctic Initiative promises is more needed than ever.

The eight nations that comprise the Arctic Council are the United States, Norway, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Russia, and Sweden. Other nations, including China, Japan, and India, along with several continental European countries, are included as observer states.

The application process itself is an international collaboration. The Norwegian Fulbright commission, along with commissions in each of the participating nations, have the responsibility for the first round of application review. From there, the Institute of International Education in Washington, D.C., reviews the next round of applications and makes the final selections. The results of the studies that researchers in the initiative carry out stand to influence scientific and economic activity in the Arctic, as well as policy.

Previous Arctic Initiatives have resulted in thorough policy recommendations for governments in the Arctic Council that will help ensure sustainable communities and activities in the Arctic. Their recommendations, based on research, have suggested ways to ensure appropriate risk-assessment strategies for activities in the North and strong communication systems to ensure that stakeholders are informed of activities that will affect them. Policy recommendations have also sought to ensure the wellbeing and rights of indigenous communities in the Arctic, many of which are involved in the Arctic Council.

The Fulbright program is a long and highly respected program for international exchange established in the United States in 1946 by Congress and spearheaded by Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright. In the post-WWII moment, Fulbright became convinced that international educational exchange is the most effective way to encourage and maintain peaceful relationships among nations. In 1945, he introduced a bill to create the program, and, according to the Fulbright Scholar Program website, using the “proceeds from the sales of surplus war property to fund the ‘promotion of international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science.’” President Harry S. Truman signed the bill into law the next year.

Throughout its 74-year history, the Fulbright program has generally enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress. Fulbright argued that “educational exchange can turn nations into people,” allowing us to see the humanity of others beyond their national identity—a vital notion in the post-war era, and, indeed, a vital notion in our contemporary moment.

The deadline for scholars and researchers from the Arctic Council’s eight member states to apply for a grant in the Fulbright Arctic Initiative III is Sept. 15, 2020.

For those interested in applying for the initiative, visit fulbright.no/stipend-for-nordmenn/forskere/fulbright-arctic-initiative.

This article originally appeared in the April 3, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.