Fulbright Arctic Symposium: Towards a Sustainable Arctic Future

University of Oulu
Fulbright Arctic Symposium 2016 logo

Fulbright Finland is happy to announce that the international cohort of Arctic researchers participating in the Fulbright Arctic Initiative (FAI) Program held a one-week plenary meeting in Oulu, Finland, on 8-12 February 2016.

On Thursday, 11 February, 2016, the FAI scholars presented their ongoing research as a part of a broader public symposium that gathered together Arctic scientists, students, policymakers, industry and NGO representatives and other key stakeholders as well as the general public. The event was open to anyone interested in Arctic issues.

Through high level keynotes, panels and interactive discussions, the symposium addressed changes in the Arctic, particularly through the themes of the FAI program (energy, water, infrastructure and health), and contributed to developing strategies and policies for a sustainable Arctic future. Presenters included distinguished scientists and high level policymakers.

The Symposium took place at the Saalasti Hall of the University of Oulu main building.

See photos from the Fulbright Arctic Symposium.

Small tree-like triangles in two different shades of blue

Watch the video greeting by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

Fulbright Arctic Symposium: Towards a Sustainable Arctic Future

Meet the FAI-scholars

Host: Dr. Kari Laine, Vice President of Research, Professor, University of the Arctic

8.00 Registration and coffee

Download program (pdf)

Opening Session

9.00 Musical performance, Oulu University Chamber Orchestra
9.10 Opening Remarks, Dr. Jouko Niinimäki, Rector, University of Oulu (slides)
9.20 Remarks, Matti Pennanen, Mayor, City of Oulu (slides)
9.25 Video Greeting, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (video) (transcript, pdf)
9.30 Fulbright Welcome, Terhi Mölsä, Executive Director, Fulbright Center, Finland

Bridging Arctic Policies and Science
Update on Arctic Policies, Priorities and Challenges

9.40 United States Arctic Council Chairmanship Program Goals
Charles C. Adams, Jr., Ambassador of the United States of America to Finland (slides)

10:00 Arctic Change and the Role of Education and Research - Finnish Perspective
Tapio Kosunen, Director General, Department for Higher Education and Science Policy, Ministry of Education and Culture

10:20 Coffee break

10:40 Government and Indigenous Perspectives on Arctic Policies, Priorities and Challenges 

  • Aleksi Härkönen, Ambassador for Arctic Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
  • Andrée Noëlle Cooligan, Ambassador of Canada to Finland (slides)
  • Jennifer Ey, Chief of Staff to the Special Representative for the Arctic at the U.S. Department of State
  • Liisa Holmberg, Rector, The Sámi Education Institute (slides)
  • Åge B. Grutle, Ambassador of Norway to Finland

11:30 Challenges for the Arctic Environment and Communities

Dr. Terry Callaghan, Distinguished Research Professor of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; Professor of Arctic Ecology at the University of Sheffield and Professor; National Research Tomsk State University, Russia

12:00 Lunch at own cost

I Panel discussion

13:00 Fulbright Arctic Initiative: Informing Policy through Collaborative Research

Introduction: Stephen Money, Academic Exchange Specialist, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State


Dr. Ross A. Virginia, Director, Institute of Arctic Studies, Dartmouth; Distinguished Co-Lead Scholar, Fulbright Arctic Initiative, 2015-16
Dr. Mike Sfraga, Vice Chancellor, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Distinguished Co-Lead Scholar, Fulbright Arctic Initiative, 2015-16

Presentations by a panel of Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars on the three Fulbright Arctic Initiative themes:


  • Dr. Gregory Poelzer, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Dr. Maria Tysiachniouk, Center for Independent Social Research, Russia
  • Dr. Bjarni Magnússon, Reykjavik University School of Law, Iceland


  • Dr. Niels Vestergaard, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  • Dr. Tamara Harms, University of Alaska, USA
  • Dr. Øystein Varpe, University Centre in Svalbard, Norway

Health and Infrastructure:

  • Susan Chatwood, Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, Canada
  • Gwen Holdmann, Alaska Center for Energy and Power, USA
  • Dr. Linda Chamberlain, State of Alaska Family Violence Prevention Project; University of Alaska, USA

14:30 Coffee break

II Panel discussion

14:45 Presenting the Arctic to the World: The Role of Scholars and the Media in Translating Science to the Public

(Transcription of the panel discussion)


Dr. Bruce Forbes, Research Professor, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland; Docent in Plant Ecology/Biogeography at the Faculty of Science, University of Oulu; Research Professor, Institute of Arctic Studies, Dartmouth College
Markku Heikkilä, Head of Science Communications, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland


  • Yrsa Grüne, Editorial Writer, Hufvudstadsbladet
  • Dr. Mari Maasilta, University Lecturer of Media Education, University of Lapland
  • Pirita Näkkäläjärvi, Director and Head of Yle Sápmi, the Sámi-speaking arm of the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle
  • Laura Tauriainen, Student, TIEMA, University of Oulu

Closing Session - Future Directions in Research and Education

15:45 Lars Kullerud, President, University of the Arctic (slides)
Dr. David Hik, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Canada (slides)

16:20 Closing words

Dr. Kari Laine, Vice President of Research, Professor, University of the Arctic

Performance by Ailu Valle, Sámi Rap Artist

16.30 Symposium closes

17.00 Exhibitions close

The Symposium was organized as part of the mid-term meeting of the international cohort of Arctic researchers participating in the Fulbright Arctic Initiative (FAI) Program. See the mid-term plenary meeting photos and program.

The Symposium was organized jointly by Fulbright Finland and the Thule Institute, University of Oulu.

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