NSF-supported education/outreach program takes young researchers to the Arctic
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Today, more than ever, an integrated cross-disciplinary approach is necessary to explain changes in the Arctic and understand their implications for the human environment. Advanced training and active involvement of early-career scientists is an important component of this cross-disciplinary approach. This effort led by the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) started in 2003. The newly supported project in 2013 is planning four summer schools (one per year) focused on four themes in four different Arctic locations. It provides the participants with an interdisciplinary perspective on Arctic change and its impacts on diverse sectors of the North. It is linked to other ongoing long-term observational and educational programs (e.g. NABOS, Nansen and Amundsen Basins Observational System; LTER, Long Term Environmental Research) and targets young scientists by using the interdisciplinary and place-based setting to broaden their perspective on Arctic change and to enhance their communication skills. Each course for 15-20 people consists of classroom and hands-on components and work with a multidisciplinary group of mentors on projects devoted to themes exemplified by the location. An education/outreach specialist from the Miami Science Museum covers the activities and teaches students the important science communications skills. A specialist from the School of Education at UAF evaluates student’s progress during the summer schools. Lessons learned during the 12 years of conducting summer schools, methods of attracting in-kind support and approaches to teaching students are prominently featured in this study. Activities during the two most recent schools, one conducted in the Arctic Ocean jointly with the 2013 NABOS expedition and another on an Alaskan glacier in 2014 is another focus of this work.