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Published: 01 Jun, 2017

Arctic's future in the spotlight at upcoming conference

NEWS Our climate is warming and the fastest change takes place in the North. So, what societal challenges await? Will the Arctic still be habitable for humans? How will natural resources be distributed? On 8–12 June 2017, world-leading researchers will gather in the hundreds at ICASS IX at Umeå University to discuss the future for people and societies in the North.

The Arctic is suffering. Temperatures are constantly peaking. In order to find a forum to talk about the challenges that await us in the Arctic, and how we can tackle them, hundreds of Arctic researchers from the Nordic countries, Russia, Canada, the US, Japan, China, South Korea, Germany, Austria and Switzerland will gather at Umeå University in early June. What attracts them to northern Sweden is an extensive research conference on the future of the Arctic – ICASS IX or the 9th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences.

“The Arctic is a hot topic in many aspects. During these conference, we will be focusing on the consequences to people and the place in particular. Our ambition is for these discussions to lead to tangible suggestions on how to prepare our Arctic societies for what awaits them,” says Peter Sköld, director of the Arctic Research Centre at Umeå University, and president of the International  Arctic Social Sciences Association that organises the conference.

The conference has over 700 registered participants, and it is no coincidence it is being held in Umeå.  Sweden and Umeå has taken a huge leap forward on the Arctic research playing field over the last few years.

Umeå University.
Umeå University is host for the 9th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences. Photo: Ulrika Bergström

“Our northern position and the fact that we run Sweden’s only arctic research centre, conducting research spanning across all scientific fields, definitely makes us the right university to lead by being a source for knowledge on Arctic issues,” says Hans Adolfsson, Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University.

The programme of the event, with the heading People and Place, consists of 22 parallel themes and over 900 lectures on for instance Indigenous rights, the environment, tourism, migration, health, education and diseases that are spreading. A debatable issue is how the Arctic – in which eight countries with several Indigenous peoples and nationalities are included – should be governed and coordinated, and what rules and regulations should apply.

Another financial and political hot potato is how the once so inaccessible natural resources such as minerals, natural gases, oil and fish should now be extracted and used in a sustainable way, and who should own the rights to it.

Some internationally leading profiles that are participating are Gail Fondahl, Canadian human geographer who has long studied health development in the Arctic population; Anna M. Kerttula de Echave, Arctic programme manager at the American National Science Foundation; Sverker Sörlin, Swedish history of ideas researcher, author and professor in environmental history, and Oran Young, world-leading political scientist from the US. Another two participants are the Arctic ambassadors Andrés Jato, representing Sweden, and René Söderman, representing Finland together with several representatives from various organisations and research funding bodies.

Each day of the conference begins with a joint plenary session on a certain theme, which will also be live broadcast online by Region Västerbotten.


Time: 8-12 June 2017, at 9:00–18:00
Place: Umeå University

More information and programme for ICASS IX – People and Place

The media

The media is greeted a warm welcome to participate at no cost and no prior registration at ICASS IX. Please show your press credentials at the registration desk upon arrival.

Each day starts with a plenary session, which will be followed by a short press conference with the presenting researchers. The times and themes for the plenary sessions are:

Time: 10:00–11:00 on Thursday 8 June, 09:00–10:00 Friday–Monday 9–12 June
Place: Aula Nordica, Universum, Umeå University

  • Extractive Resource Development and Sustainability in the Arctic:
  • What is the role of education and education research in advancing understandings of the Arctic?
  • Indigenous perspectives on knowledge
  • An Interdisciplinary Dialogue on Society and Climate Sensitive Infections: Current and Future challenges
  • Arctic Science Through Metrics Lenses – Analyzing National & Global Trends

Press conferences

Time: 11:00–11:30 on Thursday 8 June, 10:00–10:30 Friday-Monday 9–12 June
Place: the Hjortron Restaurant, Universum, Umeå University

Press contacts for the media:

Phone: +46 90 786 50 89

For more information on the conference, IASSA or the Arctic Research Centre, please contact:

Peter SköldDirector of the Arctic Research Centre at Umeå UniversityPhone: +46 90-786 63 47

Gabriella Nordin,Coordinator at the Arctic Research Centre at Umeå UniversityPhone: +46 90-786 56 44

Top photo: Northern lights over Campus Umeå. Credit: Mattias Pettersson

Editor: Anna Lawrence