Role of Barents academia in the Barents Region development increases
The Joint Working Group on Education and Research (JWGER) gathered in June 2015 at the University of Nordland in Bodø, Norway. In the meeting, the key priorities of Barents academia cooperation in 2015-2016 were highlighted. They include enhancing academic cooperation and mobility programs in the Barents Region, providing expertise and contributing to implementation of chairmanship programmes and strategic action plans, as well as mapping out synergy potentials with other academic networks in the North. Fostering partnerships between academia, business and authorities as well as interaction with other Barents working groups were also discussed.
Another event held in Bodø in June was the international conference “Barents Region and Beyond: Internationalizing Higher Education”. The conference tackled the internationalization challenges and mechanisms of the academic mobility expansion and was attended also by the member organizations of JWGER.
The other activities of the Working Group include an update to the status of academic cooperation. This means the universities actively implement academic mobility and exchange programs in the whole region, new joint Barents schools and study programs appear, and the university-business cooperation enhances. Debates were held on approaching the Action Plan on Education and Research in the Barents Region and further steps towards its elaboration, too.
There are also multidisciplinary international projects that reflect the research agenda and the complexity of the challenges the North is facing today, such as climate change, energy efficiency, cold climate construction, safety and emergency response, health and well-being and sustainable economic development. Members of the group contributed also to the implementation of the Barents Action Plan on Climate Change by providing research expertise and participating in concrete environmental projects.
Cooperation with Working Group on Youth
The Joint Working Group on Youth (JWGY) was a partner of the JWGER in a joint project implemented recently. The overarching goal of the project was to promote youth cooperation in the Barents region and to get the young Barents leaders acquainted with the Russian North. The project was co-chaired by the Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NArFU) located in Arkhangelsk, Russia and by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of Arkhangelsk Region, and its participants were Barents Regional Youth Council members from Norway, Sweden and North-West Russia, as well as students from Lapland and Arkhangelsk.
The workshops and roundtables held in the project addressed the youth self-governance, efficient mechanisms and support from universities and authorities, the increased role of young leaders in sustainable development of the Barents Region and in making the region a more attractive place to live in. During the project the participants also got insights into the unique historical, cultural and natural heritage of the Arkhangelsk Region and the Solovetsky Island.
This November, Northern (Arctic) Federal University will be hosting a youth Conference in Arkhangelsk. There, the dialogue on how the Barents youth cooperation could be promoted will continue.
Text: Maria Kalinina & Outi Snellman, co-chairs of JWGER