Aside from the four million people that live in the high North (Arctic), I’m one of few from the lower latitude who wants to be 66°32’21”N of the equator. 🤷🏾♀️🥶 Geographically, that’s roughly the coordinates for where the Arctic Circle begins and the point of origin of my passion for all things Arctic. I’m not quite in the Arctic yet but my journey has only just begun! Presently, I write from 52°22’55″N, the location of the Alfred Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung Deutsches Arktisbüro (German Arctic Office) in Potsdam, Germany. More info on AWI German Arctic Office here: https://www.awi.de/en/about-us/transfer/arctic-office.html
I am approaching my third week at the German Arctic Office as an Arctic policy research CBE fellow. I have again the pleasure of working with some of the brightest minds in the field of Arctic science and policy until the 20th of September. I arrived early to get the lay of the land and discovered a wonderful forest (pictured below) that I either walk or bike through to/from work most days. The first day I arrived I was greeted by Dr. Volker Rachold, Head of the AWI German Arctic Office and Lisa Grosfeld, Project Officer of AWI and the APECS (Association of Polar Early Career Scientists). It was like catching up on old but new times as we know some of the same people in the Arctic community. I began my research into Arctic law and governance on my first day. I started out in the AWIs old office (pictured above) and a week later we transitioned to the German Arctic Office’s new home, also on the grounds of the Albert Einstein Science Park campus. I was super stoked that my new desk was a very modern, sleek standing desk (pictured below). 😁 The equipment is stellar.
Nostalgia: Three years ago I said to my MIIS professional career adviser, that I would like to work at the AWI. She and a few others had never heard of the AWI, nor has there been any MIIS student before me to intern or complete a CBE fellowship with the organization. A few conversations with some of my mentors (Dr. Kelly and Lawrence Hislop) and a Skype call later with Dr. Rachold and I’m headed to the place I vowed I would work at someday. I’m such a lucky gal! And am really happy to be working in such a small, intimate office with my colleagues. I practice my German language skills, share the fan with Lisa on very hot days 🥵 and have lunch with Lisa, Dr. Rachold and the Director of APECS almost everyday.
As part of my CBE fellowship with the AWI, I will produce a fact sheet in German and English whose working title is Governance in der Arktis (Governance in the Arctic). The fact sheet will discuss the international laws and agreements and Indigenous rights, ownership (or lack thereof) and perspective of governance in the Arctic region. Additional highlights of my work include interviewing Arctic researchers at the Institute for Advanced Sustainable Studies (IASS), also in Potsdam, experts from the Arctic Centre in Lapland, Finland, the Woodrow Wilson Polar Initiative Center in Washington, D.C. and Indigenous representatives from the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat (IPS) in Tromsø, Norway.
As warming accelerates and the sea ice in the Arctic continues to melt, the geopolitics of the region are shifting – prompting the question Who Owns the Arctic? This in large part is what the fact sheet will be about. Spoiler Alert: There are many moving parts (political, social and economic), regional and international actors, stakeholders and governing bodies that contribute to Arctic governance. Short political answer: Arctic ownership consists of a culturally, diverse mix of Indigenous communities (Aleut, Athabaskan, Gwich’in, Inuit, Saami and Russian Indigenous Peoples of the North) and eight Arctic Nation States (Canada, Denmark w/respect to Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia and the USA). Stick around for future blog posts and you might want to be 66°32’21”N too. 😉
Lastly, I want to express my tremendous thanks to the donors that sponsored my CBE Fellowship. If it weren’t for your generous contribution I would not have this opportunity. I am forever grateful and humble! To: Dr. Volker Rachold, thank you for allowing me to work and learn under your direction. Prof. Jason Scorse, Chair of IEP and Director of the CBE, thank you for always accommodating my many plans and willingness to be flexible with me. You know I am always pushing the envelope. Dr. Brendan P. Kelly, my graduate supervisor, mentor, colleague and friend who always encourages me to follow my passion. Don’t worry you can still carry my bags. Dr. Lyuba Zarksy, MIIS IEP Prof., mentor and friend for guiding my professional and personal thoughts. Your moxie is grand! Prof. Monica Galligan, mentor and friend, for being there even when I didn’t think I needed you. Edy Rhodes, CACS Adviser, friend and colleague, for always helping and accommodating me, even when I don’t have an appointment. Rachel Christopherson, CBE Program Manager, for always smiling when I walk in the CBE and supporting me from every sideline possible. To my sister and best friend, Lisa Aiken who maintains that I live my best life and to follow my dreams. To my immediate family for contributing to my professional career and dream to become an Arctic policy expert. My MIIS IEP colleagues for all your love and support! I would not be half the person I am today if it weren’t for the people named here and countless others. I am forever in your debt!
If you have any questions, comments, or would like to connect and discuss Arctic affairs or otherwise, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
MAIEP, OCRM Candidate Class of 2020
CBE Fellow Arctic Policy 2019 @ The Alfred Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung Deutsches Arktisbüro