Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Global Classroom: The Arctic: Who Owns it and How Long Will it be There?

Join the World Affairs Council and Northwest Educators on February 16th at the Pacific Science Center. 

In September 2010 an international summit was held in Moscow to address increased interest in the region and, according to BBC, to “try to prevent the Arctic becoming the next battleground over mineral wealth.” The potential conflict is due to the fact that the world’s largest undiscovered oil and gas reserves lie north of the Arctic Circle. Climate change is melting the polar ice cap and causing a “cold rush” for Arctic resources. The Northwest and Northeast passages are opening to shipping, cutting thousands of miles off the traditional routes through the Panama and Suez canals. The practicality of this new route was illustrated by the shipping of natural gas from Russia to China via the Northeast Passage in the summer of 2010—“the largest vessel ever to navigate the once-impossible route.”

Effective governance of the Arctic is becoming increasingly critical to global peace and environmental stewardship. However, international relations in the region are complicated. There are eight Arctic nations engaging in traditional bi- and multi-lateral negotiations; the Arctic Council, which was established to foster cooperation in the region among those nations; six Aboriginal groups that sit on the Council; and a host of non-Arctic nations with interest in the region. In addition to discussing the traditional negotiations taking place today between and among Arctic nations, we will also discuss the exciting developments in the greater role indigenous people will play in determining the future of the Arctic. The World Affairs Council, Pacific Science Center, and the Canadian Studies Department invite you to join us as we tackle this question: The Arctic: Who Owns it and How Long Will it be There? We are proud to welcome Nadine Fabbi, Associate Director, Canadian Studies Program (UW Jackson School of International Studies) who will first introduce us to this complex topic.

Next, we will be joined by Zeta Strickland, education manager from Pacific Science Center, who has recently returned from a two-month trip through the Arctic. Zeta will share her Arctic experiences with us and show us how Science On a Sphere can be used to bring to life these complicated environmental changes happening in the Arctic and beyond. Science On a Sphere is a room-sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe. Researchers at NOAA developed Science On a Sphere as an educational tool to illustrate climate change, ocean temperatures, and other environmental and topographical information. Finally, we will share lesson plan ideas and articles from our 40-page resource packet published in conjunction with this program. The program also includes a light buffet and three free clock hours. Join us for a private gathering around the Sphere after hours at Pacific Science Center!

Pacific Science Center

Canadian Studies Department, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington

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