By Elena Guk, Ph.D. student in Recreational Geography, Saint Petersburg State University, Russia
In 2016, the Arctic Frontiers PhD Workshop gathered 22 young scientists from universities and research institutions representing both Arctic and non-Arctic countries – Norway, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark (including Greenland), Canada, UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France and India (and the map of citizenship had been colored even more). Students’ research topics were ranging from Beaufort Sea fish communities to tourism on Taimyr Peninsula, thus demonstrating great thematic and geographical variation of young Arctic science nowadays.
The workshop lasted ten days, from 25th of January till 3rd of February – four days during the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, and six after, on board famous coastal steamer Hurtigruten and in Svolvær – a small fishery town in the heart of amazingly scenic Lofoten islands.
The educational program of the workshop included three major parts. First, each participant presented their research in the Science section of Arctic Frontiers. Second, there were twelve lectures given by Tromsø University professors, Akvaplan-Niva researchers and local Lofoten artists – theoretical (e.g. The ethnic mosaic of Northern Norway: Challenges and possibilities by Paul Wassmann), practical (e.g. Lessons on a transdisciplinary excellence by Rasmus G. Bertelsen) and even art-related (e.g. Lofoten and the visual arts by Svein Pedersen). And, last but not least, the core event – training on preparing research proposals, which was held during the travel days.
For this purpose workshop participants were divided into four groups, based on multidisciplinary and international principles. Using an imaginary call for proposals announced by ARCTOS, students prepared four interdisciplinary Arctic-related project proposals and gave interactive presentation of them to the evaluation team. All projects were highly appreciated by the jury, but the winner was only one: the proposal CRABS – Crab-related Resilience Assessment of Biology and Society.
Another (and even maybe more important) result of the workshop – a great young researcher team that had been built disregarding of the study field and country each of us represented. Definitely, this became possible not only because of intensive group work, but also due to well organized travel and accommodation (I wish I could stay in Lofoten Suites Hotel one more time in my life!), wise work-life balance during the workshop (Norwegians work for life, we remember) and without any doubt perfect social program. During the conference young scientists participated in most of evening social activities, such as icebreaker parties, Troms mayor welcome reception and fantastic concert in the Arctic cathedral, mentioned in previous posts. In Svolvær we went to excursion trips every day, which was extremely valuable taking into consideration short daylight time. Travel part was really unique in the context of free time organization: students and teachers were accompanied by the band from Barcelona called KAA which gave a set of concerts and even “a lecture” during our days in Svolvær and of course on Hurtigruten.
It was so hard to leave the last concert party after coming back to Tromsø, at night before most of us fly away. It was so hard to say goodbye to new friends and so sweet to meet them again in different airports on the way home. And I’m sure, rapidly growing Arctic science will give us a chance to get together more than once!