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A short overview of the UARCTIC Network and the opportunities it offers for Arctic researchers

Cover shot – A view of Nuuk, October 2017

What is the UARCTIC?

When I started studying the Arctic Region and its indigenous peoples, I had little knowledge about its features and peculiarities. After moving to Rovaniemi at the end of 2016, I started to acquire a better understanding of the European Arctic, but I did not know anything about the ‘other’ Arctic. One day I was doing some research to find a way to learn more and I clicked on a web address that caught my attention, …it was mind-blowing! That day I discovered the UArctic Network, its goals, activities, and Thematic Networks.

I was curious to get involved and eager to participate in the many activities organised by the several UArctic Thematic Networks. A few months later, a call for application was published on the website. The Thematic Network on Arctic Sustainable Resources and Social Responsibility (led by prof. Karin Buhmann) was organising a 1-week winter school in Greenland (October 2017), in cooperation with the Danish Technical Institute. Besides, another call was open for a 1-week seminar in Iceland, hosted by the Thematic Network on Arctic Extractive Industries right after the event in Greenland. Notwithstanding I was just at the beginning of my PhD, I decided to apply, and I was eventually selected for both events. That was the beginning of my involvement with the UARCTIC Network.

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Sisimiut on an early morning in late October (2017)

Why is it important for young Arctic researchers?

Since then, I joined the TN on Arctic Sustainable Resources and I have attended several workshops and events organised by the Network. In September 2018, I was awarded a fellowship of 2000 CAD by the Copenhagen Business School to attend the annual meeting of the TN. Thus, I had the opportunities to travel to British Columbia, Canada, and to get a grasp of the situation in an area that I would have become familiar with. I am now carrying out my fieldwork with First Nation in Northern British Columbia, in the context of the 2nd year of PhD in the Durham ARCTIC Programme.

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A salmon cannery we visited in BC, September 2018

In December 2018, I was awarded a scholarship by the North2North Programme (UArctic mobility programme, that aims at promoting educational exchanges and training cooperation) to attend and present in the conference “Towards a research agenda for socially responsible green transitions: comparing Arctic and Global South experiences and identifying synergies for future research” at the CBS, Copenhagen.

As it is easy to understand from my experience, I have benefited enormously from the opportunities that the UARCTIC Network has offered me. Without this Network, I would not have been able to participate in the many activities I took part while travelling and getting to discover the different Arctic countries, with its diverse communities, cultural features, and socio-economic challenges.

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Presentation of my PhD project at the conference in Copenhagen, December 2018

Why is it important for Durham University to be represented in the UARCTIC board?

So, when our PhD director (prof. Philipp Steinberg), sent us an email informing about the possibility to run for the UArctic Board as a PhD representative, I thought it would have been a great occasion to give something back to the Network. Also, Durham University is one of the three English Universities with membership status in the UARCTIC Network and it has started an ambitious postgraduate ARCTIC programme a couple of years ago. I thought that it would have been great for our University to be represented, while giving voice to the needs of those institutions that perform Arctic studies and research, notwithstanding being in non-Arctic countries. So, I decided to run, relying on my past background and involvement with the UARCTIC when I was in Finland.

At the end of February 2020, I was elected as a PhD student Representative on the Arctic board. Three students are appointed as representatives for a 3-year, non-renewable term. They are supposed to communicate on matters and issues from a student or broader student body perspective. Furthermore, student representatives are encouraged to also raise awareness and propose new plans on education and research based on their own individual perspectives, for example, relating to life experiences, community and cultural backgrounds, as well as from social perspective of their generation.

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The first Durham Arctic Summer School, April 2019

I truly believe that having the opportunity to serve as a PhD student representative will be beneficial for both, my personal and professional growth, as well as for Durham University, which is highly committed to attracting young and brilliant researchers performing ground-breaking research on the Arctic. I want to take this occasion to thank prof. Steinberg for supporting my candidature and all the colleagues, professors and staff of Durham University working within the Durham ARCTIC programme. We are enhancing Arctic research at Durham University and I am proud to be part of such a wonderful scientific community!

Find more information about UARCTIC here.

Find out more about Durham ARCTIC programme here.

Take a look at our Postgraduate prospectus here.

Giuseppe Amatulli

Durham Arctic PhD programme, Department of Anthropology, Durham, UArctic Board Member (PhD Student Representative) Fellow of the UArctic Thematic Network on Arctic Sustainable Resources and Social Responsibility.
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