UAF part of university without walls

June 11, 2001

Fairbanks, Alaska -- When the University of the Arctic (UArctic) is launched tomorrow there will be no cornerstone to pour and no ribbons to cut across buildings because the UArctic is a "university without walls." A cooperative effort that was initiated nearly four years ago, the UArctic is an independent international network of universities, colleges, researchers and indigenous peoples in the Far North dedicated to sharing knowledge on circumpolar subjects. The launch will take place in Rovaniemi, Finland on June 12, 2001.

"UAF's role reflects our interest and commitment to cooperation in matters of circumpolar education," said Karen Erickson, UAF associate professor of political science. "UArctic seeks to improve access to higher education for all northerners, especially for indigenous peoples."

A circumpolar studies curriculum is in the planning stages and will be delivered in part through a web-based portal known as the Arctic Learning Environment (ALE). The development of ALE will facilitate communication between members of the UArctic community.

"The ALE is an attempt to create centers of access, whether it be through community schools or city halls, to distance courses," Erickson said. "Cooperative efforts could range from distance education or hands-on field collaboration."

The University of Alaska Fairbanks will work with the University of Tromsoe in Norway to help develop core science courses for the circumpolar studies curriculum. UAF has an interdisciplinary arctic science team working on this project.

The launch of the UArctic takes place in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the arctic environmental declaration of the eight circumpolar countries, otherwise known as the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, or Rovaniemi Process. The launch will also coincide with a meeting of senior officials of the Arctic Council which includes the eight circumpolar nations, permanent participants from indigenous peoples' organizations, and observer nations and non-governmental organizations.

Currently the UArctic has 24 member institutions and organizations located in Canada, the United States, Iceland, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

Note to Editors: Karen Erickson is attending the UArctic launch and will be available for interviews June 27 through July 2, 2001. More information is also available at CONTACT: Karen Erickson, UAF Political Science Department at (907) 474-6503 or

University of Alaska Fairbanks

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