Wednesday 7
Pathways of Resilience in a Rapidly Changing Alaska
Berill Blair, Winslow Hansen
› 14:35 - 15:30 (55min)
› JOFFRE 1-4
Pathways of Resilience in a Rapidly Changing Alaska: The Role of Public Education in Governance for Resilience in a Rapidly Changing Arctic
Douglas Cost  1@  
1 : University of Alaska Fairbanks

Douglas Cost

University of Alaska Fairbanks
Resilience and Adaptation Program Ph.D.

The Role of Public Education in Governance for Resilience in a Rapidly Changing Arctic

This paper will be presented in the session entitled: Pathways of Resilience in a Rapidly Changing Alaska.

Abstract: Social-environmental systems (SESs) have been problematized as frequently having a deficit in goodness of fit between environmental change and policy solutions (Young 2002). In Alaska, and other Arctic countries, one overlooked aspect of governance is the public school systems. This paper, primarily addressing Alaska, but with discussion applicability to other locations, hypothesizes that as extensions of governments, schools offer an opportunity to create better linkages between societies and environments through governance. Secondarily, it is argued that education is a vital component of resilience, but this education must embrace multiple perspectives on education in order to honor and access the diversity traditional ecological knowledge and Western methods both offer. Lastly, schools are an untapped resource to meet the challenge of bolstering SES resilience in a time of transformation for Arctic societies.

Education is an oft mentioned yet rarely utilized force in Arctic SESs. Public education, referring to primary and secondary, in the United States has been a highly regulated and insulated system. Schooling had been a colonizing form of governance in the past iterations for Alaska Native communities. For many, it resulted in an outdated, misshapen, and misguided but impactful influence on governance in rural Alaska. Much of the damage has been acknowledged and the state of Alaska and Alaskan, in particular rural, school systems are working to ameliorate this legacy. However the last few decades have witnessed debate over the role of schools in addressing local knowledge, environmental changes, and community priorities. The question has arisen and in Alaska is under serious consideration - who but rural northern residents are the best spokespersons and actors for the adaptation necessary to promote Arctic resilience and positive transformation? In the future, with place-based and local reforms, schools can be a part of the SES governance solution. They have the capacity to become real game-changers in how the Arctic is made more resilient through its inhabitants' input as well as how the Arctic communities' resilience is viewed by the its southern neighbors.

Scholars have maintained the powerful potential education promises in affecting future resilience and sustainable states. This paper focuses on this discussion because the connections and feedbacks between SESs, resilience and education have yet to be carefully unpacked and examined. The aim of this paper is threefold. First I explain how public education is a form of governance, secondly, I explain the role of education in resilience, and lastly I propose how schools are and can better be a force for resilience in social-ecological systems in Alaska and potentially across the Arctic.


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