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11 1A new collaboration agreement has been signed between Harvard University Arctic Initiative and Arctic reindeer herding peoples´ institutions, on developing leadership training for indigenous youth.

The Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH), the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) and University of the Arctic EALÁT Institute (UEI) have now entered into a new agreement with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

 “…This is a continuation of our academic collaboration with Harvard University for nearly two decades, representing a new and exciting step forward”, says Anders Oskal, Secretary General of WRH and Executive Director of ICR. “…With this collaboration, the scientific and educational resources of Harvard University can become available also for our emerging indigenous leaders and our indigenous scholars across the Arctic, just as our communities find themselves on the frontlines of Arctic climate change and globalisation”.

Responding to the complex knowledge challenges of Arctic change, the collaboration has three interlinked action areas:

  • Arctic Indigenous Youth Leadership Seminar Program: Working together with the Harvard Arctic Initiative to create a new pilot training program for emerging and talented indigenous leaders, focusing on leadership, resilience and adaptation. The program will be held in the name of the late Harvard Professor James McCarty[1]. Joint development already started, with pilot implementation in 2021.
  • Arctic Knowledge Systems Study Group: Working with the Harvard Arctic Initiative and groups of Harvard graduate students investigating how especially traditional indigenous knowledge and knowledge systems can strengthen society resilience (ie. robustness towards shocks and crisis).

Starting fall 2020.

  • Arctic Council - Arctic Resilience Forum: Co-hosting an Indigenous Youth Leadership and Resilience Workshop with Harvard University at the Arctic Council Resilience Forum in October 2020. This entails participation from our teams of indigenous scholars and emerging leaders, also linking with the ongoing EALLU project. Planning has started.

The collaboration has great aspirations, and works both ways: “…By combining Harvard´s resources and our own specialist competence on the Arctic, we can together contribute to relevant knowledge development in and about the Arctic, to the Arctic dialogue, and to the international collaboration”, says Institute leader and Professor Svein D Mathiesen of UEI. “…This cooperation will include understanding of traditional knowledge systems together with the latest science to increase understanding, resilience and response capabilities to Arctic change in indigenous societies”.

The program will recruit pan-Arctic emerging and talented indigenous leaders on the frontline of Arctic change, to build their leadership competence, confidence and contacts (3C). Case studies on Covid19, forest fires, locked winter reindeer pastures, land encroachment, food innovation, and northern sea routes are now elaborated.

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Oskal concludes: “…The idea is to train people to take responsibility for their own destiny, thus making a difference for those most affected by Arctic change. To me, this collaboration agreement signals the willingness and seriousness of Harvard University to continue work with our academic teams and aspiring leaders in creating positive change and understanding - also for the Arctic nomadic indigenous peoples.”



Anders Oskal

Secretary General, Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH)

Executive Director, International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR)


+47 99450010

Svein Disch Mathiesen

Institute leader, Professor PhD, University of the Arctic EALÁT Institute (UEI at ICR)


+47 90524116

[1] Former President of AAAS, with whom we collaborated since year 2001 and whose strong Arctic dedication deserves recognition.

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