Proactive master and PhD students from different countries gathered in the Northern (Arctic) Federal University (Arkhangelsk) with aim to increase their knowledge on the Arctic issues, meet like-minded participants from the other countries and develop their leadership skills.
The school included lectures and workshops given by Russian, American and Norwegian experts in the field of Arctic policy and international relations. A role-play game took three days and included three stages: Working Groups Sessions; Arctic Council Sessions and Ministerial Meeting.
The Working Groups session took place on Wednesday. Winter School participants took the roles of representatives of different countries, permanent members and members of other working groups of the Arctic Council, such as AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program), CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna).
All participants of the Model Arctic Council communicated in English; they discussed topical issues that could get in the agenda of a real meeting of the Arctic Council. For example, they discussed a project proposed by the Russian Federation. Peeyapat Rabieb (she took the role of a representative of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North) spoke about the main aspects of this project, which aims to support reindeer herding.
On Thursday, the students simulated a meeting with senior officials of the Arctic Council, which actually takes place twice a year. The winter school participants submitted reports on current projects of their groups. After the presentations and discussions of these projects, the students began to work on the text of the declaration.
On Friday, the simulation of Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council took place in the framework of the winter school. The students presented the text of the declaration, which included various projects that could be useful for the sustainable development of the Arctic region. At the end of the meeting the winter school participants discussed the results of their work during the week.
Alexandra Giese, Dartmouth College (USA):
It was very interesting to see the new projects being developed, when the ideas gain structure and transform into real projects and get in the declaration. The brainstorming was very good. We got hands-on experience and now we know about all the procedures of the Arctic Council, about the priorities and potential topics for discussion related to the Arctic.