Calotte Academy

Calotte Academy session at the University of Lapland, 2018. Credit: Marko Junttila/University of Lapland

The Calotte Academy (CA) is an annual traveling symposium and an international scientific forum in the North Calotte region of Europe. It is designed to promote interdisciplinary discourse as well as academic and policy-oriented dialogue between senior researchers, early career scientists and advanced graduate students and other northern stakeholders, such as policymakers, civil servants and community leaders and planners.

The CA is an international platform for policy-oriented dialogue and dissemination of research. This has been there since the first CA, which took place in May 1991 in Inari, Finland. Behind is that the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) was signed at the first ministerial meeting between the eight Arctic states in June 1991 in Rovaniemi, Finland, and the Arctic Council was established in September 1996 in Ottawa, Canada. During its 27 years the Academy has built partnerships between researchers, other experts and community members, and done community-based research as well as developed research models for communities. The CA is a post-modern academic stage and workshop that fosters interdisciplinary, knowledge(s), and dialogue-building, and implements the interplay between science and politics. This kind of a “school of dialogue” with serious efforts and flexibility aims to create an open academic discussion, that is participatory by nature with an idea to share knowledge and experiences with communities.

Since 2002 the Academy has served as a sub-forum for Open Assemblies of the Northern Research Forum. Since 2010 the CA has acted an annual doctoral summer school for early-career scientists (PhD candidates and Post-docs) from the Arctic states, as well as from the observer countries of the Arctic Council. It has also functioned as the main annual forum for the discussions and research planning of the UArctic-NRF Thematic Network (TN) on Geopolitics and Security. The Thematic Network also publishes The Arctic Yearbook, through which a state of Arctic geopolitics and security is documented and analysed (visit website). The Arctic Yearbook is a major forum for dissemination of the main findings and highlights of the Calotte Academy, as well as to have further discussions on the themes.

Procedures

The CA is structured in a way to have academic sessions with scientific presentations and brainstorming discussion in each location, as well as to have public sessions, based on invitations, in one or two of its locations. Since dialogue and application of science are the most important goals of the CA, a fundamental precondition for this is to have enough time for questions, comments and open discussion as well as enough patience for listening to others’ argumentation. Following from these principles, the sessions are structured so that each presentation will be allocated altogether 30-45 minutes out of which 15 minutes are reserved for the presentation. After the CA, a final report, including the abstracts, main findings, highlights, and ideas for potential research questions, is produced (see https://calotte-academy.com/final-reports).

Calotte Academy as a Method of Research, Supervision and Learning

The CA is designed first to promote interdisciplinary discourse, and second to foster academic and policy-oriented dialogue among members of the research community, as well as a wide range of other northern stakeholders, such as policy- makers, civil servants, community leaders and planners, and members of academia. On the other hand, it is an international summer school for early-career scientists, particularly PhD candidates and post-docs with an aim to implement the interplay between senior and young researchers, and post-graduate students.

The CA is an alternative model to conventional academic conferences. It is also an independent, though not established, academic forum with tens of scientific presentations, lively discussions, and written reports. We also do interdisciplinary border studies by having several crossings of national borders – Finnish-Norwegian, Norwegian-Russian, Russian-Finnish, and sometimes Finnish-Swedish or Norwegian-Swedish -, as well as crossing borders between the Saami Area, Sapmi and the rest of Finland.

At the CA we use to combine a few things, such as research/theory and practice/action; different studies/inter-disciplinarity and different knowledges (trans-disciplinarity); research, supervision and studying/teaching; presentation, participation, interactivity; brainstorming, planning, sharing ideas, having division of work; different scales from local to global; and final, synergy between international networks (e.g. Northern Research Forum, TN on Geopolitics and Security, Arctic Yearbook). Following from this, in each session of the Academy the annual overarching theme is discussed holistically from many angles and disciplinary approaches, and from the perspectives of past(s), present(s) and future(s), as well as from global, Arctic and local context in the European Arctic. The CA uses to implement the social relevance of science, or science diplomacy, by having the interplay between science and politics as one of the main aims.

To conclude, the Calotte Academy is an interdisciplinary brainstorming meeting to bring researchers and other experts from different fields, regions and countries together for to discover innovations and new methods, and produce international research projects as well as plans and applications. This kind of a “school of dialogue” with serious efforts and flexibility aims to create an open academic discussion, and participatory by nature with an idea to share knowledge and experiences with communities. Behind is a need for science and the scientific community to take literally the social relevance of science, and that science is with values and more than labs, it is about people(s), societies and the environment. Briefly saying to ‘take care’, instead of having corrupted norms of double standards, or the current schizophrenic approach of neoliberalism supported by specific expertise and meritocracy, is possible to interpret as a new norm with values. In the turbulent times for Academia, as in many European countries, due to many pressures and cuts in funding, this kind of academic forum and activity is a much needed democratic and equal space for a dialogue and brainstorming.

Text: Gerald Zojer, University of Lapland

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