“Why the Arctic Matters” Symposium at Western Oregon University

Symposium to address importance of the Arctic at Western Oregon University

Monmouth- Western Oregon University will host a community symposium addressing the topic “Why the Arctic Matters” from Jan. 28 to 30, 2010. The symposium includes experts in a variety of topics from climate change to wildlife biology to anthropology to education to an expert on Native rights. Presentations in the symposium will cover topics such as climate change, “Eskimo” culture, archaeology, and Arctic security issues. All events are free and open to the public.

Symposium schedule, presenters and bios

Thursday, Jan 28 – “Understanding the Arctic”

Columbia Room, Werner University Center

8am:  Registration

8:30 am: Welcome address by Jensen Arctic Museum Curator Roben Jack Larrison

9 am: The Arctic, the global climate

Dr. Laurence Padman, a senior scientist for Earth & Space Research, will present a talk on global climate and the Arctic. He will review what is known about the Arctic’s role in climate change and will describe how scientists study these remote and hostile, but spectacularly beautiful, polar regions.

10 am:  Caribou in the dynamic Arctic

Dr. Brad Griffith is research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a Unit Scientist in the Alaska cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Institute of Arctic Biology. Griffith and his students conduct large-scale and long-term studies of the interacting effects of climate change and industrial development on wildlife habitats and resulting population implications.

11 am:  William Hensley is the Inupiat author of “Fifty Miles from Tomorrow.” A native activist, Hensley served four years in the Alaska House of Representatives and six years in the Alaska State Senate. He was also president of the Alaska Federation of Natives and worked with the NANA Regional Corporation, the United Bank of Alaska, the Alaskan Department of Economic Development, and the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

12 pm: Lunch break

1 pm: Jensen Arctic Museum tours

2 pm: Twenty Years an Outsider/Insider in the Alaskan Arctic: observing and experiencing “Eskimo” culture, community and survival in a rapidly changing world: In April 1987, on her first trip to Alaska, Dr. Carol Jolles, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Washington, spent six weeks as guest of a tribal administrator in the Native village of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. For the next 12 years, she moved back and forth between Gambell and Seattle, recording aspects of St. Lawrence Island Yupik culture. By 1997, she had expanded her research base to include the Native villages of Wales, on the Seward peninsula, and Inalik, on Little Diomede Island. In this presentation, Jolles describes experiences in the three communities that have impacted and shaped her personal and professional life and argues that there is much to learn from these and other northern peoples, whose homelands are challenged by global climate change. Her research explores issues of identity, ethnicity, and the transmission of subsistence knowledge and traditional histories across generations.

3 pm: Dr. Robert McGhee, is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and the Arctic Institute of North America, and has served as president of the Canadian Archaeological Association and as editor of the Canadian Journal of Archaeology. In 2000 he was awarded the Massey Medal by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

As an archaeologist, his research has focused on the archaeology and history of Arctic North America. He has undertaken fieldwork across northern Canada, from Labrador to the Mackenzie delta and northwards to the High Arctic islands, as well as in Svalbard and Siberia. His work has addressed problems such as the first peopling of the New World Arctic; the origins of Inuit culture; reactions of prehistoric populations to episodes of climactic and environmental change; and the relations between aboriginal peoples and early European visitors to Arctic Canada. He has investigated the archaeological remains left by the 16th century Northwest Passage expedition led by Sir Martin Frobisher, and crewed for a portion of the North Atlantic voyage of the reproduction Viking ship Gaia.

4 to 6 pm: Reception

7 pm:

Four Winter Nights: An Arctic Film Festival from January 26 through 29.

“Qallunaat: Why White People are Funny”

7pm in ITC 211


Friday, January 29 – “Doing Our Part”

8 am: Registration

8:30 am: Welcome

9 to 11 am: Dr Adele Schepige, WOU professor of science education, and Dr. William Schoenfeld, WOU associate professor of physics. Schoenfeld and Schepige are the leaders of a team working on the NASA Global Climate Change Education Grant funded Global Climate Challenge Institute for K-8 Teachers (GccIFT). GccIFT is an interdisciplinary approach to learning about climate change.

11 am: What’s the Worst Thing That Could Happen?

Greg Craven grew up on a farm in Oregon, experimented with different jobs for a decade, and finally found his calling as a high school physics and chemistry teacher and currently teaches at Central High School in Independence. His main qualification for proposing a layman’s approach to climate change is having borrowed the 30 brains in his classroom to mull questions of science and critical thinking for the last 10 years. He’s found there’s no better way to refine a thought than to toss it out in front of a roomful of critical teenagers. He is a bit surprised to find he’s written a book as a result. Craven lives in Corvallis, OR, with his wife and two young daughters.

12 pm: Lunch break

1 pm: Poster session: “Our Environment”

2 pm: Arctic Security Issues: territory, resources and waterways

Mary Pettenger, Ph.D., WOU associate professor of political science Oregon State University. She received her Ph.D. in International Studies from the University of Denver. Her research interests include international politics with a focus on climate change, national security and active learning techniques.

Abstract: the presentation will cover the impact of arctic ice melt on security issues in the polar north. Topics will include territorial boundary disputes between the arctic states, disputes over access and ownership of resources to be found on or under the seabed, and the potential use of arctic waterways for transportation and trade.

3 pm: Our Environment: A panel

7 pm: Four Winter Nights: Arctic Film Festival last night

“Before Tomorrow”


Saturday, January 30 – “Celebrating Arctic Arts”

Jensen Arctic Museum

10 am to 4 pm: Family activities including music, handicrafts and exhibits.

Event sponsors are Friends of the Jensen Arctic Museum with assistance from the Government of Canada / avec l’appui du gouvernement du Canada.


For more information about the museum, visit: www.wou.edu/arctic

Published by paperstew

I'm an artist in Albany Oregon focusing on paper and natural objects for inspiration.

One thought on ““Why the Arctic Matters” Symposium at Western Oregon University

  1. This should be a really interesting conference. Plus I’d be interested in the movie, “why white men are funny”, I’ve always wondered. Jean

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