Fulbright Arctic Initiative

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is pleased to announce the second Fulbright Arctic Initiative for scholars and professionals from the eight Arctic Council member countries.  The deadline for scholars and professionals to apply to the Norwegian Fulbright Commission October 16, 2017.   The Fulbright Commission will submit its nominees, chosen from among eligible applicants, to the Institute of International Education (IIE), by November 13, 2017.  Successful candidates will be notified of their selection in February 2018.

The Fulbright Arctic Initiative is not to be confused with the Fulbright Arctic Chair grant, which is awarded to one Norwegian and one American scholar each year. The application deadline for that award, for the 2018/19 academic year, is October 1, 2017 for Norwegian scholars, and August 1, 2017, for American scholars.  Please find more information about the Arctic Chair grant for Norwegian scholars here, and for American Scholars here.  

Background:  The Fulbright Arctic Initiative supports scholars, researchers and professionals from Arctic Council member countries to carry out collaborative research on public policy questions related to the unique challenges of the Arctic region.  The goal is to create a network to stimulate international collaboration on Arctic issues while increasing mutual understanding between people of the United States and the people of other countries.

The first Fulbright Arctic Initiative successfully sponsored 17 participants over an 18-month period in 2015-2016 that coincided with the United States’ chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

The second Fulbright Arctic Initiative, for which program activities will begin in spring 2018, will include both established experts and early-career specialists from the eight Arctic Council states (United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden) for collaborative research in one of two focus areas:  A) Community Resilience and Adaptation and B) Building Sustainable Economies.  These scholars will participate in an individual Fulbright exchange, as well as convene with the other scholars for three in-person group seminars and on-going virtual communication to carry out team-based research.

Program Description: Based on available funding, approximately 12 outstanding scholars from the United States and the seven other Arctic Council states will be selected through an open, merit-based competition to participate in the program as Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars.   Pending candidate eligibility, we anticipate that at least four of the scholars will be selected from the United States and at least one scholar will be selected from each of the other Arctic Council member states.  Co-Lead Scholars Dr. Michael Sfraga of the Woodrow Wilson Center and Dr. Ross A. Virginia of Dartmouth College will provide intellectual leadership throughout the program.  Program activities will begin in spring 2018 and conclude in fall 2019.

The Arctic scholars will participate in an individual Fulbright exchange of six to 12 weeks. For the individual exchange, U.S. scholars will travel to one of the seven other Arctic Council states, and international scholars will travel to the United States.  In some cases, scholars will already have contact with colleagues at institutions or research centers and may arrange their own placements.  In other cases, the scholar’s affiliation will be arranged at sites appropriate for the proposed work by the Co-Lead Scholars, IIE, or Fulbright Commissions/Offices.

In addition to their individual exchange activities, scholars will work together in multi-disciplinary and multi-national research teams.  The Fulbright Arctic Initiative will provide a platform for scholars from across the Arctic region to engage in collaborative thinking, analysis, problem solving and multi-disciplinary research in one of two areas:

Resilient Communities

The Arctic is facing profound social, economic, and environmental change and communities are increasingly confronted with critical policy challenges related to issues of health and wellness, energy resource management, environmental protection, sustainability of the Arctic Ocean, infrastructure, indigenous rights, education, and regional governance.  Further research is needed on ways to build social resilience in communities to adapt to changes across the Arctic.  This research should focus on and ideally involve Arctic communities themselves and consider the application of indigenous knowledge to help inform policy at local to regional scales, as well as multi-disciplinary research to bring differing or complementary viewpoints.

Policy-relevant research on this theme could address questions such as:

  • What specific sustainability challenges do Arctic communities face in areas such as: subsistence activities; food and water security; availability of medical care and educational opportunities; and programs and resources for the continuity of their identities as indigenous peoples?  What areas of research might best contribute to the most effective and socially equitable policies on these issues?
  • How can health resources and systems best address community and individual wellness?
  • How can traditional and indigenous knowledge be successfully integrated into community adaptation practices and strategies?
  • How can communities evaluate and respond to potential relocation options in response to coastal erosion, permafrost thaw and other environmental challenges?

Sustainable Economies

The rapid changes in the Arctic Ocean system resulting from sea ice decline, changes in water conditions, and increasing shipping and energy production have significance for Arctic nations, global markets, and coastal communities.  The economic impacts of environmental changes and globalization in the Arctic, together with the region’s expanding connections to the global economy, require research to address how commercial opportunities can be supported and balanced with the need for sustained subsistence livelihoods in Arctic communities.

Policy-relevant research on this theme could focus on:

  • How can the development of energy resources, fisheries, shipping and telecommunication infrastructure, and increased local educational opportunities and support for indigenous scholarship promote the creation of more sustainable Arctic economies that meet community, regional, and national goals?
  • How can advances in technology be used in the Arctic to strengthen data collection and data-sharing, advance and adapt the Arctic built environment, better connect Arctic communities to the global economy, and adapt Arctic infrastructure to improve human wellness and increase economic opportunities?
  • How can energy resources, including oil and gas, be developed, taking into account the economic needs of Arctic communities, while protecting the environment for other activities such as fisheries, ecotourism and biodiversity conservation?
  • How can investments in infrastructure for ports, pipelines, freshwater storage and treatment, and transportation be accomplished?

At the beginning of the program, an in-person meeting and program orientation will be held for all scholars, at which the Co-Lead Scholars and research teams will have the opportunity to begin working on collaborative projects and establish guidelines and goals before the scholars participate in their individual exchanges.

Under the guidance of the Co-Lead Scholars, the research teams will then collaborate virtually, utilizing an online platform throughout the program period.  The entire cohort will gather to share progress and initial outcomes at a mid-term meeting to be held in a location TBD.

At the end of the program, Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars will convene for the third and final meeting to share the results of their collaborative work and report on the achievement of program objectives and the local, national, and/or regional implications of their findings.  Scholars will disseminate policy-relevant recommendations, describe the concrete steps they have taken in implementing their projects and models, and share strategies for moving their recommendations from theory to practice.

Action Requested: ECA, through co-operating agency IIE, is now soliciting applications for candidates to participate in the Fulbright Arctic Initiative.  Fulbright Commissions in the Arctic states (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) and the Fulbright Office in Russia may nominate up to five candidates from among the eligible applications.  Both foreign and U.S. applications will be reviewed by a peer review committee in the United States, which will make recommendations to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.  Final selection of Scholars will be made by the Board.

The deadline for applicants to submit applications to the Fulbright Commission/Office is October 16, 2017.  Fulbright Commissions/Office will review submitted applications and must transmit nominations to IIE by November 13, 2017.

Eligibility:Applications are welcome from scholars at all career stages, to include applied researchers, professionals, and indigenous and traditional-knowledge experts active in the academic, public or private sectors who demonstrate outstanding qualifications and a record of experience and accomplishment in an area clearly related to one of the designated research themes.  Applicants must be actively engaged in an area of inquiry or activity relevant to the program’s themes and objectives, be open to exploring and incorporating comparative, interdisciplinary approaches in their investigations, and be interested in developing collaborative activities with other Fulbright Arctic Scholars. Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English.

Applicants must be citizens of the country from which they are applying and residing in the country at the time of application.  Non-U.S. applicants who have dual-U.S. citizenship or who hold permanent residency “green cards,” whether or not they reside in the United States, are not eligible.  Non-U.S. individuals who are selected for a Fulbright program will be required to submit a copy of their passport data page to the relevant Fulbright Commission/Office.  Non-U.S. Fulbright Scholars enter the United States on an Exchange Visitor (J-1) visa under a U.S. Department of State program and are subject to the two-year home-country residency requirement associated with the J-1 visa.

Nomination and Selection: Applicants will be considered without regard to race, religion, sex, age, and/or physical impairment.  For non-U.S. applicants, preference is given to those without recent experience in the United States.  Applicants should be responsible individuals who can effectively represent their own societies and thereby contribute to increased understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.  They should also demonstrate the cross-cultural sensitivity and flexibility needed to adjust successfully to a foreign host institution and culture during the individual exchange and to work together on group research projects in interdisciplinary teams.

Selection criteria include: academic and professional excellence, compelling research methodology, relevance of applicant’s previous research, training, and experience to proposed project area(s), ability of the applicant to work as part of an interdisciplinary team, necessity of doing the proposed research in the selected host country and the overall strengths of the applicant and application in comparison with others in the applicant pool.  A letter of affiliation is not required at the time of application.

Application Procedures: Each candidate will be required to submit an online application via the online management system administered by IIE.  Once the applications have been submitted, the Fulbright Commission will review and nominate up to five candidates, ranking them in order of recommendation (1 being the top recommendation).  Commissions will then forward the applications of nominated candidates to IIE for review by academic peer review committees and to ECA, which will coordinate FFSB approval of nominated candidates.

Fulbright  For additional information regarding the online application, contact arctic@iie.org.

Application Package:  A complete application package includes:

  • An online application form
  • Statement of purpose (three to five pages)
  • Bibliography (up to three pages)
  • Curriculum vitae (up to six pages)
  • Letters of recommendation (three)
  • Letter of invitation (recommended but not required)
  • Language Proficiency Evaluation

A detailed description of each of these application components can be found within the online application system.

Successful candidates will be notified of their awards in February 2018.

Fulbright Arctic Initiative Grant Provision:  Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars will receive funding in the amount of $40,000 for the duration of the program.  This allowance is intended to support travel to all program meetings, travel and maintenance for the exchange visit, research materials and assistance for Fulbrighters only.  Accommodations and meals for program seminar meetings will be covered separately.  Awards will also include accident and sickness benefits.

Non-U.S. Fulbright Arctic Scholars will enter the United States on J-1 Exchange Visitor visas issued under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program G-1-00005. Additional Information: Please review the Fulbright Arctic Initiative website for more information at: http://www.cies.org/program/fulbright-arctic-initiative.  Additional information about the program is available at: http://eca.state.gov/fulbright/fulbright-programs/program-summaries/fulbright-arctic.