Arctic research at the University takes place in all its scientific fields: Medicine, the Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and Science and Technology. It covers areas such as for instance research on indigenous peoples, security, water resources, infections, sustainability and climate. The width and the vast number of researchers with arctic focus makes it sensible for Umeå University to take a clearer leading position, suggests Vice-Chancellor Hans Adolfsson:
“Our geographic location, the fact that we possess Sweden’s only arctic research centre that conducts arctic research spanning across all faculties makes us the right University to shoulder the burden of being the main source of information.
Not least the current climate crisis makes it particularly imminent that a wide university like ours with lots of arctic research show that Umeå University can and wants to participate in the global debate.”
“An important objective with such a thematic work is to raise the level of consciousness to politicians, research funding bodies and other parties that there are many important problems requiring a solution and that science can give an answer to,” says Hans Adolfsson.
Peter Sköld is director of the Arctic Research Centre at Umeå University, Arcum. He uses an historic metaphor to explain why arctic research should be a common concern:
“In the 19th century, miners brought a canary down in the mine as an indication of how dangerous the air down there was. Now, the Arctic is the canary of the world. If the Arctic is suffocating – and the Arctic is – it’s high time for people around the world to get out of the mine, take a look around us and solve the problem. An important step in that process is to use our knowledge and facts to visualise the risks involved and the solutions science has to offer,” says Peter Sköld, professor in History focusing on Sami societal change and culture, and is also director of Arcum.
Birgitta Evengård who is professor at the Department of Clinical Microbiology suggests that the climate debate so far has mostly based upon the geoscientific perspective. But climate change doesn’t just affect the planet, it affects everything that is on it. Including humans:
“As a species, we are highly affected by climate changes in the Arctic and in other areas.”
“By making displaying how the situation in the Arctic affects great parts of our world, our weather, the diseases we risk contracting, our infrastructure and our industries, we can jointly contribute to increased understanding, and in longer terms a more sustainable behaviour,” says Birgitta Evengård.
The Arctic theme will make an imprint on a series of events organised or participated by the University during 2017. Pax Nordica, the Sami Week in Umeå and an international arctic conference in June are some of the events that so far are on the agenda.
“Kunskapsnoden in Stockholm on 8 February will be the first event with the Arctic theme that sets off the focal year. It takes place in an arena outside of Umeå where we invite various stakeholders who since before may not have seen the Arctic as one of the University’s important focus areas,” says Hans Adolfsson.
The initiative to the Arctic year comes from the University Management, but Hans Adolfsson would like to emphasise that whoever would like to contribute to casting attention to the Arctic over the next year, can contact the Planning Office and register your interest or inform about your plans.
“The idea is to involve an even greater part of our researchers in the Arctic research field. Also, many of our students are committed and we have every reason to organise activities on campus over the course of the year.”
Read more about arctic research at Umeå University on www.umu.se/en/arctic