Students from the University of Tromsø act out model Arctic Council meetings 18 December 2013Arctic Council Secretariat November 6th students from the University of Tromsø held a role-play session where they acted out a EPPR Working Group meeting and a Senior Arctic Officials meeting. The role-play was a voluntary activity for the students and their teacher Piotr Graczyk hopes that the exercise will increase student awareness about the work of the Arctic Council. Background information from the ACS The students visited the Arctic Council Secretariat at the Fram Centre on November 4th for a presentation by ACS Director Magnús Jóhannesson. Jóhannesson spoke about the Arctic Council, its structure, history, and future tasks. This presentation helped the students to prepare for their model Arctic Council meeting two days later. During the Arctic Council role-play the students began by negotiating contents and measures of an agreement on Arctic Marine Oil Spill Prevention through a model EPPR Working Group meeting. Later in the afternoon they proceeded to act out a Senior Arctic Officials meeting where the agreement was presented to the SAOs for discussion. Voluntary activity with high engagement Graczyk explained that the students chose the negotiation topic and also chose which delegations they wanted to represent. They were also asked to prepare position papers in advance. “We have dedicated several lectures to the Arctic Council and the students are quite deep into the subject at this point. It is a great opportunity for them to learn how the Arctic Council works.” Most of the Member States and Permanent Participants organizations were represented by students at the meeting. There were also a few students who took on the roles of observers. Peter Haleas from Chicago, USA played the part of an Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) delegate. “I chose to represent ICC because I feel that it is extremely important to defend indigenous peoples’ rights in the region. My partner and I developed a position paper based on our lectures and research we did online.” Future generation of the Arctic Council The Russian Federation was represented by Anastasia Sboichakova at the meeting. Sboichakova is from St. Petersburg and thought it would be interesting to role-play as a delegate from her home country. “This has been a very good experience to understand the rules and procedures of the Arctic Council. I wrote my Master’s thesis on the topic so I already knew quite a bit. I think it is important for students to know how the Arctic Council works since we are the future generation who might work with the Council.” Graczyk was very impressed with the students’ engagement and says that this role-play was a trial effort and he hopes to organize it again. “I would like to develop the idea further and maybe offer a separate course on the Arctic Council in the future. I am very grateful for the interest that the students have shown.” Click here for more photos from the event.