Learning through dialogue: the High North Center leads the Arctic in collaborative conversations

Jennifer Hackwell, MACT student - 08 June 2023

April 2023 marked the 7th annual High North Dialogue in Bodø, Norway. This conference (hosted by the High North Center for Business and Governance) brings together students, researchers, professionals, politicians, and other major stakeholders to discuss development in the Arctic.

This year, I was one of 21 students from nine different countries who attended the HND Academy, a one-week workshop integrated within the conference for young leaders studying Arctic issues. The primary focus of the academy was to teach ‘scenario planning methodology’ – a strategic tool for thinking about the future during times of rapid change and uncertainty. Dialogue, as the name suggests, was also a critical component of the conference. Students visited local businesses, government offices, and museums to share their experiences and hear from others. Over the course of the week, our small-yet-diverse cohort became a tightly-knit think tank of ideas and optimism.

Both the academy and the conference were absolutely excellent in the high-quality learning and networking opportunities. Panels were stacked with experts from a variety of industries, countries, and perspectives, raising the bar on collaborative discourse on Arctic issues. Each panel also included a student from our group to ensure that youth voices had a place in the discussion.

The University of Alberta and the MA in Communications & Technology Program are a part of the UArctic network hosting these events, and specifically the Thematic Network on Smart Societies in the High North (SmartNorth). SmartNorth is an international group of researchers studying governance, technology, management, innovations and public administration in the context of diverse Arctic societies. This partnership supports Arctic-focused research, education and learning opportunities for graduate students in MACT and across the university.

As a MACT student and public servant based in Whitehorse, this conference and academy were pivotal in both the development of my Masters capstone project, and the direction of my career in Canada’s Far North. I encourage anyone with an interest in Arctic-specific issues to take advantage of this opportunity – it’s absolutely worth the long flights!

Students interested in applying to attend the HND Academy can email Dr. Rob McMahon for more details: rob.mcmahon@ualberta.ca