The University of Alaska Fairbanks is teaming with Dartmouth College in an effort to focus national attention on the Arctic as the U.S. prepares to assume leadership of the eight-nation Arctic Council next spring.
Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday with U.S. Ambassador to Sweden Mark Brezinski, UAF vice chancellor Mike Sfraga announced the Interior university will co-lead a new Arctic Fulbright Scholars program with its Ivy League counterpart.
UAF is the nation’s northernmost university.
Fulbright Scholarships fund researchers to probe a wide range of public-policy issues. Interviewed by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Brezinski and Sfraga focused heavily on climate change and the threat it poses to Arctic people and wildlife.
Alaska is the only Arctic state in the nation, and the state’s Arctic region is home to about 20,000 people, a half-million caribou, and one of the nation’s largest oil production operations in and around Prudhoe Bay.
Climate change has led to fears the polar bears which live along the Arctic coast could become extinct and hopes that melting sea ice will allow for the development of offshore oil fields, which could help prop up the economy of a state that remains heavily dependent on oil even as Prudhoe production continues a precipitous decline.
There is no shortage of economic, social and environmental issues for Fulbright Scholars to examine. Details about the research program are to be announced in the coming weeks, Sfraga told Alaska Dispatch News.
Founded 68 years ago, the Fulbright program is the flagship academic and research program housed in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and is named for J. William Fulbright, whose legislation established the scholar program.
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Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Education spending in Canada’s North out of hand: prof, CBC News
Finland: Keep Swedish compulsory in Finland’s schools say teachers, Yle News
Sweden: Town in northern Sweden leads the pack of best schools, Radio Sweden
United States: Alaska program hopes to help restore Tlingit language, Alaska Dispatch