NEAN combines the wealth of academic expertise in Arctic research across New England with researchers, stakeholders, and external partners concerned with environmental, economic, and social impacts. The network provides an ideal community for anticipating and responding to change in the Arctic and its impacts on the eastern coast of North America.
“NEAN is designed to really build the capacity for research and education partnerships throughout the North Atlantic and the Arctic to support sustainable development,” explained Holly Parker, Ph.D., director of UNE North and a member of the NEAN Steering Committee.
The attendees were welcomed by James Herbert, president of UNE, who appeared virtually.
“I am really honored that UNE North is able to host this meeting,” he told the crowd. “I do not need to tell you this, but the Arctic region is becoming more and more important on the global stage. The region is feeling the brunt of climate change and all of the impacts of it. I know sustainability is part of the core mission of NEAN and it certainly is with UNE as well.”
One of the goals of the meeting was to get members to really engage with each other.
“To get to know each other as individuals and not just knowing their work,” stated Parker. “That is really important for building a powerful network.”
Katharine Duderstadt, Ph.D. a research scientist at the University of New Hampshire and a member of NEAN, says the network is looking to develop a shared leadership model.
“We want all the institutions that are members to share the leadership,” she commented. “We are here today to revisit the passions that brought us here to this room and to help start to develop stronger relationships that will enable research collaborations into the future.”
Duderstadt said the event also provided an opportunity for members to discuss what tools they will need to carry out their research.
“What types of research infrastructure do we need to have in the North Atlantic Ocean?” she said. “Do we need more networks of buoys or what are the satellite assets that could help us with the research that we do?”
The event also included a group discussion on how to engage Indigenous communities in local and Arctic research.
“We heard stories about engagement with Indigenous communities, both here in New England and in Alaska,” said Parker. “We heard stories of the relationships and how those relationships were built, so that we can understand how to build trust between Indigenous communities and research institutions like ours.”
The meeting wrapped up with members sharing institutional goals and setting expectations for the 2022 University of the Arctic Assembly. UNE will be co-hosting the assembly in June with the University of New Hampshire, the University of Southern Maine, the University of Maine, and Dartmouth College.
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