UAlberta North

Message from the Director

I’m writing to introduce a new name – UAlberta North – which I hope will quickly become a familiar one. UAlberta North is the result of extended conversations over the past year to consider how the University can give fresh energy, effective coordination, and institutional priority to the full scope of our work across the circumpolar North. I have been appointed Director, and Anita Dey Nuttall is the Associate Director; we are excited to take up this new challenge. Given the University’s location, history, and diverse research and teaching presence in the North, as well as our increasing awareness of the ways in which the well-being of northern peoples and places matters for us all, it makes sense to engage this work – and to do it well.

UAlberta North’s mandate is based on the Northern Strategy (2011). It includes responsibilities for:

  • building a highly collaborative inter-disciplinary community of researchers within the University;
  • strengthening relationships with northern partners, including governments, colleges, and indigenous communities, as well as national and international research/educational agencies;
  • raising the public and scholarly profile of our work;
  • identifying opportunities, circulating information, and supporting cross-faculty initiatives (such as the transfer of the Canadian government’s ice-core archive to the U of A);
  • facilitating innovative and reciprocal processes of ‘north-south’ knowledge exchange;
  • enlarging opportunities for students.

To mix metaphors, I imagine UAlberta North as a ‘portal,’ a ‘hub’ and as ‘glue’ that connects faculty (and faculties), students, senior leadership, and northern partners. Our office represents the University formally within various networks, from UArctic to the new Edmonton Northern Secretariat. Our reach is circumpolar, but it will also include the provincial North.

At this point, we are in start-up mode, but we’re developing an active work-plan. We’re planning a more significant launch event early in 2016. We’ve already hosted a Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholar and three interdisciplinary faculty lunches which continue to stimulate discussion. We’ve invited the Circumpolar Students’ Association, Engage North, and the Canadian Initiative for Nordic Studies to share our terrific space in Ring House 3. In short, we’re looking for ways to advance all of the responsibilities identified above so that the integrated whole of our northern work in a large, sometimes fragmented University is much more than the sum of the parts, and so that important northern voices and northern knowledge find points of entry that can shape and challenge our thinking.

We look forward to opportunities to connect with you about UAlberta North in the near future.

Roger Epp