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Circumpolar Events at UNBC

Circumpolar Events at UNBC

Nicole Halseth – News Editor

Akureyri, Iceland, site of ICASS VII in 2011. IASSA website

UNBC will be host to the Eighth International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS VIII) from 22-26 May 2014. This triennial Congress brings together hundreds of Arctic and Subarctic humanities scholars and social scientists, in addition to northerners both indigenous and non-indigenous, and representatives from various NGOs, organizations, and governments. The theme of this upcoming Congress is “Northern Sustainabilities,” recognizing the multiple dimensions of ‘sustainability’ within unique Northern contexts.There are set to be four Keynote Speakers at the Congress: Chief Joe Linklater (Gwich’in Council International, Canada), Dr. Alexander Pelyasov (Director, Centre of Arctic and Northern Economies at the Council for Research of Productive Forces, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Federation), Henriette Rasmussen (Director, Greenlandic Broadcasting, and former Minister of Culture, Education, Science and Church, Greenland), and Dr. Sverker Sörlin (Institute of Technology, and Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden and Institute for Advanced Study – Princeton University, Royal). More  information on the Congress can be found here.Iceland 2

IASSA logo.

The event is convened by the International Arctic Social Sciences Association. The official event brochure states that “the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) is an association of social scientists, humanities scholars and others interested in the Arctic (including Subarctic).” Its objectives are: “to promote and stimulate international cooperation and to increase the participation of social scientists in national and international Arctic research; to promote communication and coordination with other research organizations; to promote the active collection, exchange, dissemination, and archiving of scientific information in the Arctic social sciences; to promote mutual respect, communication, and collaboration between social scientists and northern people; and to facilitate culturally, developmentally, and linguistically appropriate education in the North.”  IASSA has around 600 members from 30 countries.

According to an email correspondence with Dr. Gail Fondahl, President of IASSA and professor of Geography at UNBC, ICASS has received over 550 abstracts for papers to present at the Congress, from anthropologists, economists, ecologists, geographers, historians, legal studies scholars, political scientists and a host of other academics, as well as from government, industry, and NGOs. Those who have submitted abstracts are mostly from circumpolar countries, but come from as far as India, Nigeria, and Columbia.

The conference is only open to registrants, though if students are interested in being involved, there are some positions open for volunteers. Contact Jamie Reschny ( for more information on volunteering. Additionally, there will be an associated film night open to the public on 23 May at 7:30 pm, with a showing of  The Romance of the Far Fur Country, a reconstructed film originally shot in 1920 that offers an exceptional view of northern Canada as it was almost 100 years ago (more info on the film can be found here).UNBC will also be host to the upcoming University of the Arctic (one of IASSA’s partners) council meeting, which will be occurring at UNBC just prior to ICASS VIII. It seems UNBC has an exciting circumpolar extravaganza in its very near future!