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Published: 2023-12-07 Updated: 2023-12-15, 11:07

Course helps doctoral students understand their research from an Arctic context

NEWS – I thought that I was not “North-enough” to be Arctic, even though I am from Iceland, says the PhD-student Flora Tietgen.

– Before the course I did not think that my research belonged in an Arctic context. I thought that I was not “North-enough” to be Arctic, even though I am from Iceland, says the PhD-student Flora Tietgen.

For four days, doctoral students from Canada, Iceland and Finland participated in the course "Setting Educational Issues in the Nordic and Arctic context"

– The course is quite structured but at the same time it was quite open. It was different from the doctoral program at my university. I really liked how different disciplines and levels of where people are in there PhD-program were mixed and put together. We were mixed so it worked well and helped us, says Elizabeth Lay who is from Island.

Made the Arctic context visible

Flora Tietgen, from Iceland, says that the course helped her approach her research in a new way.

–It is a new cool thought that my research is in an Arctic context. I leave the course with a new perspective and a better understanding.

Johanna Björkell who is a PhD-student in Vaasa Finland agrees and says:

- I have now managed to place my research in Unesco's international development goals and I have managed to see that my research is not about reaching those goals, but about enabling university teachers to reach the goals. It was a huge insight I got. This course has clarified a lot of things in my research. The course has helped me put my research in an Arctic and Nordic context.

– In North America I find that most of the research about the Arctic are mainly related to natural science there are not really opportunities to speak with other researchers doing research in other areas. De decolonization aspects of this course were super interesting to me and close to my research, says Amy Katharine Bartlett, Candian PhD-student.

Valuable meetings

The doctoral students say that it was valuable to meet other doctoral students.

– At home we are more independent and do not have many opportunities to establish contacts with other students. So it has been really interesting to come here and listen to other students talk about their research topics and make some connections with people with research similar to mine. I think those connections will stay, says Amy Katherine Bartlett.

John Dale from Canada agrees, saying:

– We have also been collaborating in smaller groups which I find super valuable because I find a lot of PhD-students are socially isolated from one another. Especially in world where everything is on-line now. There are few venues where I can gather with a bunch of students. The fact that my field is not education makes it a lot more valuable – as a cross disciplinary element.

The Arctic Centre at Umeå University has made the doctoral exchange possible.

The five PhD-students and their research areas

Amy Katharine Bartlett (Canada)
The aim of this research study is to collect the experiences of Nunavut educators about literacy instruction and bilingualism to provide insights into the implementation of a new literacy framework adopted during the 2014/2015 school year. It is anticipated that this will provide useful information to allow educational leaders to improve the on-going implementation of this literacy initiative and will inform the implementation of future educational initiatives in Nunavut.

Elizabeth Lay (Iceland)
Her PhD project examines the perspectives, positions and practices of immigrant families in Iceland's predominately white inclusive education system. It aims to shed light on the advantages and disadvantages influenced by multiple social dimensions such as race, class, gender and immigrant status.

Flora Tietgen  (Iceland)
Research: immigrant women's experiences of intimate partner violence in Iceland and their experiences with support seeking with governmental and non-governmental institutions. Flora Tietgen is currently working on a paper on institutional whiteness and the lack of reflection of colonial power relations within Icelandic institutions as well as a lack of training to provide services for minoritized groups.

John Dale (Canada)
He is applying Svetlana Boym's Nostalgia Theory to Rural Community Economic Development (RCED), in-particular island communities in the North Atlantic. His international comparative research attempts to not only uncover how collective imagined pasts impact future place-making, but examines the co-construction of identity and the element of power as it relates to RCED.  He is a Rural Studies PhD Student at the University of Guelph.

Johanna Björkell (Finland, Vasa)
Digital Relational Competence for Higher Education Teachers in a Finland-Swedish context.