Fulbright Arctic Initiative


Fulbright Arctic Initiative 2015-16

The grantee competition for the second cohort of the Arctic Initiative is currently closed. To receive notification when this page is updated, please click here.

The Fulbright Arctic Initiative will bring together a network of scholars, professionals and applied researchers from the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden for a series of three seminar meetings and a Fulbright exchange experience.

At its core, the Fulbright Arctic Initiative will create a network to stimulate international scientific collaboration on Arctic issues while increasing mutual understanding between people of the United States and the people of other countries.  Using a collaborative model to translate theory into practice, program participants will address public-policy research questions relevant to Arctic nations’ shared challenges. 

Outstanding scholars from the U.S. and abroad will be selected to participate in the program as Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars through an open, merit-based competition. At least four of the scholars will be selected from the United States and at least one scholar will be selected from each of the other Arctic Council member states. Co-Lead Scholars  will provide intellectual leadership throughout the Program, in addition to mentoring program participants and facilitating discussion and collaboration among the Arctic Initiative Scholars. Program activities will take place over 18 months

Selected scholars will participate in an individual Fulbright exchange of a minimum of six weeks up to three months, as well as in-person seminars and ongoing virtual communication, all supporting the scholars’ collaborative research projects. Scholars will focus on collaborative work in multidisciplinary and multinational research teams, and will propose and carry out an individual exchange element.

Application Deadlines:
International Applicants - TBD
U.S. Applicants - TBD

  • The Fulbright Arctic Initiative will provide a platform for scholars from across the Arctic region to engage in collaborative thinking, analysis, problem-solving and multi-disciplinary research in one of four areas:  
    • Energy: How will oil, gas, and other natural resources be developed in the Arctic? What can be done to promote clean renewable energy, reduce pollutants, guarantee the inclusion and rights of indigenous people, and protect the environment?
    • Water: How can we understand, mitigate, and adapt to the dramatic changes occurring and projected for the Arctic Ocean environment and fresh water regimes, such as changes to fisheries, oil spills, the emergence of invasive species, and shifts in the food supply for local communities?
    • Health: What specific issues do coastal communities face, such as erosion and storm surge, subsistence activities and food supply, availability of medical care, transportation, telecommunications, protection and continuity of their identities as indigenous peoples? What opportunities and vulnerabilities can be addressed for the sustainability of affected communities?
    • Infrastructure: How can we rethink ports, pipelines, freshwater storage and treatment, and other infrastructure and security issues? What measures and policies should be developed to promote multi-national cooperation on search and rescue, emergency environmental response, and safe shipping?
  • Arctic Initiative Scholars will work in multidisciplinary and multinational research teams in the program thematic areas described above. In addition to the Co-Lead Scholars, each of the Arctic Initiative research teams will select a coordinator to lead their respective groups.
  • At the beginning of the program, an initial group meeting and program orientation meeting will be held in Canada. This will provide the Co-Lead Scholars and research teams the opportunity to launch the collaboration and establish guidelines and goals.
  • Under the guidance of the Lead Scholars, the research teams will collaborate virtually utilizing an online platform throughout the Program period. The full group will gather to share progress and initial outcomes at a mid-term meeting that will be hosted by another Arctic country.
  • During the program period, Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars will participate in an individual research exchange visit lasting a minimum of six weeks up to a maximum of three months.  Non-U.S. scholars exchange visits will be at institutions within the United States and U.S. Scholars will conduct exchange visits at institutions within Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia or Sweden.
  • At the end of the program, Arctic Initiative Scholars will convene for the third and final meeting to share the results of their collaborative work and report on the accomplishment of program objectives and the national and regional implications of their findings. Scholars will disseminate policy-relevant recommendations, describe the concrete steps they have taken in implementing their projects and models at the local, national and/or regional level, and share the progress they have made and challenges they have faced in moving their recommendations from theory to practice.
  • Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars will receive funding in the amount of USD$40,000 for the duration of the program. This allowance is intended to support travel to all program meetings, travel and maintenance for the exchange visit, research materials and assistance for grantees only. Accommodations and meals for program seminar meetings will be covered separately. Grants will also include limited accident and sickness benefits.

The Fulbright Arctic Initiative is a program of the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

Grant/Program Dates or Duration:

Program activities will take place over 18 months.

Application Deadlines:
International Applicants
The competition is currently closed

U.S. Applicants
The competition is currently closed

Fulbright Arctic Week, Final Group Meeting, Washington DC (October 24-28, 2016)
Fulbright Arctic Symposium: Towards a Sustainable Arctic Future, Mid-year Group Meeting (Oulu, Finland)

Fulbright Arctic Initiative Program Overview for Applicants
Webinar session archive - (Monday, December 15, 2014)
Webinar session archive - (Tuesday, December 16, 2014)


Successful candidates will include scholars at all career stages, to include applied researchers, professionals, and Indigenous and traditional knowledge experts active in the academic, public or private sectors that demonstrate outstanding qualifications and a record of experience and accomplishment in an area clearly related to one of the designated research themes. Applicants must be actively engaged in an area of inquiry relevant to the program's themes and objectives, be open to exploring and incorporating comparative, interdisciplinary approaches in their investigations, and interested in developing collaborative activities with other Fulbright Arctic Scholars.

  • Applicants must be from one of the member states of the Arctic Council: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.
  • Non-U.S. applicants must be citizens of the country from which they are applying and residing in the country at the time of application. Non-U.S. applicants who have dual-U.S. citizenship or who hold permanent residency "green cards", whether or not they reside in the U.S., are not eligible. Since specific residency requirements vary from country to country, applicants should contact their local Fulbright office directly to determine their eligibility.
  • U.S. applicants must have U.S. citizenship and be residing permanently in the United States.
  • U.S. applicants who are currently on the Fulbright Specialist Roster may not accept any Specialist assignments during the Fulbright Arctic Scholar Program year.
  • A Ph.D. or equivalent professional/terminal degree is preferred. For professionals, practitioners, and artists outside academe, recognized professional standing and substantial professional accomplishments are required.
  • Preference will be given to early or mid-career academics, applied researchers and/or professionals with research experience in the public, non-profit, or private sectors.
  • Applicants should have particular expertise and relevant experience in one of the identified research areas and be willing to develop new collaborative research with other members of their thematic group.
  • Non-U.S. Scholars must demonstrate proficiency in English.
  • Non-U.S. applications must be submitted through the Fulbright Commission in the applicant’s home country. Candidates in Russia should apply through the IIE Fulbright Office in Russia.
  • U.S. applications must be submitted through the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES).

The competition is closed

Given past experience, we anticipate that many candidates will submit their online application materials in the final days before the deadline. To avoid heavy server traffic and potential delays, we encourage candidates to submit their application materials as early as possible.

Please Note: You do not need to complete the application in one sitting. The system will allow you to enter, reenter and revise all sections of your application. Remember to periodically save any data you have entered.

U.S. Scholars

Visiting (Non-U.S.) Scholars

Non-U.S. applications must be submitted through a participating Fulbright Commission. The competition is closed

The competition is closed

October 2014 |

Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholar Competition Opens

February 2, 2015 |

Visiting Scholar Application Deadline

February 16, 2015 |

U.S. Scholar Application Deadline

April 2015 |

Finalists notified of selection decisions

May 17 - 21, 2015 |

Opening Group Meeting (Iqaluit, Canada)

February 8 - 12, 2016 |

Mid-year Group Meeting (Oulu, Finland)
Fulbright Arctic Symposium: Towards a Sustainable Arctic Future

October 24-28, 2016 |

Final Group Meeting (Washington, DC)
Fulbright Arctic Week

Close All | Open All

Meet the 2015-2016 Arctic Initiative Scholars

Dr. Michael Sfraga Dr. Michael Sfraga
(Co-Lead Scholar)
United States
Vice Chancellor, University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF)
Professor of Arctic Policy
School of Natural Resources and Extension
Discipline: Geography
Dr. Ross A. Virginia Dr. Ross A. Virginia
(Co-Lead Scholar)
United States
Director, Institute of Arctic Studies
Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science Dartmouth College
Discipline: Environmental Sciences


Dr. Tom Arnbom

Dr. Tom Arnbom
Senior Conservation Officer, WWF Sweden
Discipline: Biological Sciences

Dr. Linda Chamberlain

Dr. Linda Chamberlain
United States
Founding Director and Public Health Scientist, Alaska Family Violence Prevention Project
Adjunct Professor
University of Alaska
Discipline: Public/Global Health


Susan Chatwood

Ms. Susan Chatwood
Executive and Scientific Director, Institute for Circumpolar Health Research
Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana school of Public Health
University of Toronto
Discipline: Public/Global Health

Asli Dis

Ms. Asli Dis
Research Fellow, Royal Institute of Technology
Discipline: Urban Planning


Dr. Gunhild Gjørv

Dr. Gunhild Gjørv
University of Tromsø- The Arctic University of Norway
Research Associate, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)
Discipline: Political Science

Dr. Tamara Harms
United States
Assistant Professor, College of Natural Science and Math
University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Discipline: Environmental Sciences


Dr. Anne Hansen

Dr. Anne Hansen
Associate Professor, The Danish Center for Environmental Assessment
Aalborg University
Research Associate, Centre for Innovation and Research
Discipline: Environmental Sciences

Dr. Gwen Holdmann

Ms. Gwen Holdmann
United States
Director, Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP)
Discipline: Engineering


Ms. Noor Johnson

Dr. Noor Johnson
United States
Senior Advisor, Office of International Relations at the Smithsonian
Adjunct Professor
Brown University
Discipline: Anthropology

Dr. Trevor Lantz

Dr. Trevor Lantz
Assistant Professor, School of Environmental Studies
University of Victoria
Discipline: Environmental Sciences


Dr. Bjarni Magnússon

Dr. Bjarni Magnússon
Assistant Professor
Reykjavik University School of Law
Discipline: Law

Susanna “Itty” Neuhaus-Schuck

Ms. Susanna “Itty” Neuhaus-Schuck
United States
Associate Professor, School of Fine and Performing Arts
State University of New York at New Paltz
Discipline: Art


Dr. Gregory Poelzer

Dr. Gregory Poelzer
Associate Professor, Department of Political Studies
University of Saskatchewan
Discipline: Political Science

Dr. Laura Sokka

Dr. Laura Sokka
Senior Scientist, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Ltd.
Discipline: Environmental Sciences


Dr. Maria Tysiachniouk

Dr. Maria Tysiachniouk
Researcher and Chair, Center for Independent Social Research
Discipline: Environmental Sociology

Dr. Øystein Varpe

Dr. Øystein Varpe
Associate Professor, Department of Arctic Biology
University Centre in Svalbard
Adjunct Researcher
Akvaplan-niva (Tromsø, Norway)
Discipline: Biological Sciences


Dr. Niels Vestergaard

Dr. Niels Vestergaard
Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental and Business Economics
University of Southern Denmark
Discipline: Economics



Fulbright Arctic Week, Washington DC, October 24-28, 2016

August 17, 2016
Fulbright Arctic Initiative Final Group Meeting
The seventeen Fulbright Arctic Initiative researchers and their co-lead scholars --who hail from all eight Arctic nations--will gather in Washington, D.C. in October 2016.


Fulbright Arctic Initiative 2015-2016 (Video)

Uploaded on Oct. 26, 2016
Source: CIES/IIE

Toward a Sustainable Arctic Future - A Message From U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (Video)

Uploaded on Feb 17, 2016
Source: YouTube
Video Remarks by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for the mid-term meeting of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative in Oulu, Finland.

Fulbright Arctic Initiative Featuring Gwen Holdmann (Video)

Source: YouTube
Fulbright Arctic Initiative Featuring Gwen Holdmann

Fulbright Arctic Initiative Program Focuses on Climate Change (MSNBC Video)

October 14, 2014
Source: msnbc
Andrea Mitchell talks to Amb. Mark Brzezinski and Dr. Mike Sfraga about the State Department’s new Fulbright Arctic Initiative.

Fulbright Arctic Initiative Unites Region (The Arctic Sounder)

June 5, 2015
Source: The Arctic Sounder
At first glance, the average Arctic resident might think the Fulbright Arctic Initiative is another opportunity for scholars and scientists to talk at them, instead of with them, about their own home communities. Or perhaps they might think it's another conference, or series of meetings, where academics tell them what's best for their families and way of life. But it's not.


Fulbright Arctic Initiative: Circumpolar Scholars Studying Region’s Problems (KUAC FM 89.9)

July 24, 2015
Source: KUAC FM 89.9
A new State Department program enables scholars from circumpolar nations to share research and solutions for regional problems.