Post-secondary students and faculty across the north could soon be taking their studies and work to other northern regions of the world.
Up to 10 students and faculty at post-secondary institutions in the three territories — Yukon University, Aurora College in the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut Arctic College — will be selected for grants toward the north2north mobility program for the winter and spring of 2022.
The program is offered through University of the Arctic (UArctic), a network of post-secondary schools (including the three schools in the territories), research institutions, and other organizations around the world focused on education in the north.
While students have been able to participate in the program previously, grants such as these have not been available.
“We’re excited to be able to offer these grants,” YukonU’s north2north coordinator Faye Canty said in a Sept. 1 interview, noting that while Yukon University has welcomed international students under the program, Yukon University (formerly Yukon College) hasn’t sent students overseas.
It appears the grant opportunities, available thanks to funding from Global Affairs Canada, is peaking students’ interest with a number of questions and inquiries coming in from potential participants.
“There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of curiosity,” Canty said, noting many want to know more as they look to possibly apply by the Sept. 15 deadline.
Under the program, participating students and faculty receive support to study and share their own knowledge at other UArctic post-secondary schools in the circumpolar north. Schools in Denmark, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, the United States, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Russia are all part of the program.
Both faculty and students from the three northern Canadian institutions have until Sept. 15 to apply for one of the 10 grants available. Canty said while there are not a certain number of grants allocated for each school, officials at the three institutions are collaborating and will work together to determine the 10 grant recipients for this year. A lot will depend on the applications that come in, she said.
It’s hoped that in future years, the program will be able to expand to provide up to 35 grants in a year.
As Canty pointed out, any exchange is a good opportunity to experience new cultures and learn more about the world. In this case, the exchange provides a unique opportunity to “empower a shared perspective of northern knowledge”, helping to build capacity in the north.
The Arctic University of Norway is among the founding members of UArctic and has been part of the north2north program since its inception in 2001.
In a Sept. 2 interview, both Isabelle Guissard, the school’s senior advisor in its international cooperation division, and Pål Markusson, an associate professor in tourism and northern studies, pointed to a number of benefits.
“This is really a great opportunity,” Markusson said, adding it provides a unique perspective on the world that many wouldn’t otherwise experience.
It means being introduced to another culture, forming new friendships, and more. Along with the broader benefits that come with experiencing a new culture in another northern region, Markusson pointed out it’s an experience that can also boost a resume.
Guissard also suggested that the nature of the program means many of the exchanges happen at smaller institutions, which offer smaller class sizes and the like, creating a greater opportunity to make connections with others. It also means experiencing parts of the world that many others don’t often get to see.
“There’s some very special places,” she said.
Each school also has a north2north coordinator, who work with students to ensure supports are in place wherever they are needed.
As Canty explained, for Yukon University students, she may work with them and the north2north coordinator at the school they are looking to study at to assist with arrangements for housing, courses and whatever other supports may be needed.
“It’s a big undertaking,” she said of moving for a semester or two overseas, stressing that north2north coordinators work to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
A student applying for one of the 10 grants must be registered in a diploma, degree and/or graduates program and be considered in good academic standing by their home institution to participate. As part of the application, students are asked to submit a 500 word motivational letter or short video detailing their motivation and intention in participating and their personal relationship to the North and with Indigenous people and/or communities.
Grants for the winter and spring 2022 terms can span between a one-week field course to two terms of study with maximum financing of $10,000 that would include a maximum of $3,500 for transportation costs; and $1,000 per month (or $250 per week) for the duration of the exchange for living expenses, the study visa and medical insurance. Students can also apply for additional funding to a maximum of $3,000 for special circumstances such as child care, disability/accessibility needs, and remote travel, though the additional funding is not guaranteed.
Meanwhile, faculty exchanges under the program would be for a maximum of one month.
Faculty members are responsible for connecting with a north2north institution and finding an opportunity.
“A north2north mobility exchange should contribute to strengthening of knowledge sharing and relationships between north2north institutions in a circumpolar context,” states the north2north webpage on YukonU’s website, detailing information for the faculty exchange. “Activities such as teaching and networking to build relationships will be prioritized over conferences and events.”
Faculty taking part in the program would receive a $3,500 grant toward transportation. There is also the option for faculty to apply for additional funding of up to $1,500 for special circumstances.
Applications and details are available online.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at email@example.com