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Published: 2021-01-21

Arcum has a new Director

NEWS After 8 years as Director and founder of the Arctic Research Center at Umeå University, Professor Peter Sköld hands over to Associate Professor Niklas Eklund.

Text: Anngelica Kristoferqvist

Arcum is a dynamic unit at Umeå University coordinating research in several cross-faculty areas related to the Arctic. Peter Sköld, who has been the director of the center from the start, explains how it all started:

In the spring of 2012, the planning began for an Arctic Research Center at Umeå University, and on December 12 of the same year, Arcum was inaugurated with an international symposium and a gala dinner. It was one speech after another with tributes and high expectations. Arcum was intended as aninternational top player. At this point, Arcum consisted of me and a part time administrator working 10 h/week. Right there and then, I may not have been too convinced. But a journey began, which eight years later has taken me, my colleagues and the Arctic researchers at Umeå University into a very exciting collaboration, which only continues to develop.

Today, Arcum is an important actor on the Arctic arena with collaborations in many of the major Arctic organizations such as the Arctic Council, EU-Polar Net, the International Arctic Research Committee (IASC) and many more. Peter describes the progress:

With 300 Arctic researchers, we gather a strength and competence that few universities in the Arctic region can match. Already a few years in, we were involved in directing the development of the major international Arctic research organizations, researchers were granted project after project, we established the Nordic co-operation Arctic Five, and Umeå was the scene of major events with almost a thousand participants, ministers, royalty, EU leaders, and recognized researchers among the speakers. Arctic research has been acknowledged and, gradually, a kind of Arctic researcher identity has also emerged. It also entails that the Arctic research map has become larger. In fact, we have been involved in developing a new concept or a broader understanding of what the Arctic is locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

We have actually been involved in developing a new concept or a broader understanding of what the Arctic is locally, regionally, nationally and internationally

Today there is a stable Arctic platform at Umeå University. The extensive expertise is presented both individually and thematically, alongside current projects and publications. Umeå Arctic Seminars allow researchers from widely differing subject areas to present their research. We have had match-making events, seminars and workshops, and a number of international researchers have visited Arcum. All this and more would never been accomplished without an absolutely fantastic staff at Arcum, who made the impossible possible.

Peter Sköld's period as Arcum's director ended by the end of last year, but his work for Arcum and the Arctic continues.

Niklas Eklund has very exciting work ahead of him as the new Director. I am convinced that he will manage this in the very best way, especially since the diligent staff remains. As I will continue to work with Arctic affairs, I hope that I can be supportive in the adventures that lay ahead, Peter says. 

Appreciated and valuable

Peter Sköld has been an appreciated leader and when it comes to his value for Arcum, the staff all agree. His personal network is wide and the projects brought to Arcum are exciting and interesting. Linus Lundström, project assistant at Arcum, is appreciative of having had the opportunity to work for Peter:

It's fun with Peter, he is a visionary and things happen around him. These have been important qualities for taking Arcum to where we are today, Linus says.

As a person, Peter is described as positive, and as one who sees opportunities instead of obstacles. Lena Maria Nilsson, project coordinator at Arcum, has worked with Peter for most of his time there:

Peter has been skilled in identifying opportunities, and this has clearly been extremely valuable in our effort in increasing recognition for Arctic research at Umeå University.

The near future

Niklas Eklund is an Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and has been appointed to Arcum as a part-time director from 1 January 2021. His research interests comprise public administration, leadership, crisis management and, not least, Arctic security. For the currently reorganizing Arcum, his expertise will come in handy.

Arcum’s first event with Niklas as director and Peter as outgoing, is the Umeå Arctic Forum this Friday. Normally, this event is held every year December 12 as Arcum was inaugurated on that date in 2012, more or less commemorating its birthday. Adapting to a new normal, and although the date has changed, this year Arcum has the honor of welcoming very distinguished guests to the event. On the list of participants, we find Vice-chancellor Hans Adolfsson and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dieter Müller, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde, Director-General of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat Katarina Gårdfeldt and many more, including Professor Peter Sköld, as participants. The forum is held in Swedish, is for free and everyone is very welcome to participate. For more information and registration visit the Umeå Arctic Forum.