The Model Arctic Council is an experiential learning exercise bringing together graduate and undergraduate students from a spectrum of Arctic disciplines to roleplay and simulate the actual work of Member States, Permanent Participants and Observers of the Arctic Council. For this Model Arctic Council, the focus was on the detriments of climate change on human health in the Circumpolar North and evaluation of the One Health Initiative. Prior to arriving at Dartmouth, the students were assigned roles and given time to read up on their organization’s real-world stance on circumpolar health issues, culminating in the writing up of a policy paper to help reinforce the core ideas of their organization. Having each been assigned a role of either a Member State, a Permanent Participant or an Observer, the Student Ambassadors had the luxury of experiencing the full swath of different responsibilities each organization held and the value they individually brought to the Arctic Council.
To open the Model Arctic Council, students partook in a multitude of negotiation and collaboration exercises, and were also emphasized the value of measured speech; an example being careful on the use of certain words which though linguistically meant the same thing, had different power associated with them such as when “echoing” versus “supporting” an opinion led to two totally different messages being delivered. At the simulated Arctic Council meeting, every participant (inclusive of Observers who were customarily only at meetings to silently observe) was invited to give an introductory speech and share their organization’s stance on the One Health Initiative in the Circumpolar North. This followed with participants discussing and narrowing down on five key issues of Circumpolar Health, forming working groups to produce solutions and finally writing up conclusive statements to be presented to the Arctic Council Chair. Upon unanimous agreement on the five conclusions delivered by the leaders of the working groups, the compounded Hanover Declaration was created and is to be published in the near future as a reference and recommendation tool for the work of the real-world Arctic Council. The Fairbanks Declaration, which was created during the 2016 Model Arctic Council in Fairbanks, Alaska proved a valuable resource for the real-world Arctic Council, and Arctic Council Senior Arctic Official David Balton has on multiple occasions acknowledged the value of and expressed respect for the Fairbanks Declaration. It is our hope that the Hanover Declaration does credit to its predecessors.
For Ian, who is working on his MS in Glaciology at Dartmouth and acted as one of the hosts, the most valuable thing he took away from the Model Arctic Council was the realization of just how much power each individual held to effect a change on the Arctic, yet it was imperative to remember the value of negotiation, presentation, and interpersonal skills in ensuring the Arctic Council achieves its goal of One Arctic.
- Ian Lee, July 2017
The Model Arctic Council is also a UArctic Thematic Network of the same name. The Model Arctic Council occurs biennially, taking place at a UArctic university in the country currently chairing the Arctic Council. The Dartmouth program was a smaller version of the Model Arctic Council, organized as part of the “Science and Diplomacy in the Arctic” conference.