Fulbright Arctic Initiative


The Fulbright Arctic Initiative brings together a network of scholars, professionals and applied researchers from the United States, Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden for a series of three seminar meetings and a Fulbright exchange experience to address key research and policy questions related to creating a secure and sustainable Arctic.

The third cohort of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative will stimulate international research collaboration on Arctic issues while increasing mutual understanding between people of the United States and member countries of the Arctic Council. Using a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach, Fulbright Arctic Initiative III will address public-policy research questions relevant to Arctic nations’ shared challenges and opportunities.  Academic researchers in the natural and social sciences, Indigenous and local knowledge holders, professionals in the fine arts and liberal arts as well as practitioners working in various fields are encouraged to apply.

Outstanding scholars and practitioners from the U.S. and the other 7 Arctic Council member states 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 is anticipated from each of the other countries. Co-Lead Scholars will provide intellectual leadership and support throughout the Program, in addition to mentoring program participants, connecting program scholars to other international experts, and facilitating discussion and collaboration among the Scholars.

Click to Expand Program Details

Selected scholars will participate in an individual Fulbright exchange of a minimum of six weeks and a maximum of three months, as well as in-person seminars and ongoing virtual communication, all supporting the scholars’ required collaborative research projects. Scholars will be selected on the basis of an individual research project linked to an exchange visit and potential to collaborate in group research work in one of three thematic areas described below. Scholars will be expected to produce: 1) a policy brief based on their group work; 2) one research product of the group’s choosing; and 3) a one-page description of their individual research project objectives, outcomes and exchange experience.

  • Fulbright Arctic Initiative III seeks to support research that will inform policy and support a more secure and sustainable Arctic future. Potential applicants are encouraged to review research products from the first two cohorts of FAI scholars and agenda setting documents coming from the Arctic Council Working Groups, the Arctic Council Chairmanship program of Iceland, and documents from Indigenous People’s Organizations representing Arctic stakeholders.
  • Fulbright Arctic Initiative III will provide a platform for scholars from across the Arctic region to engage in collaborative thinking, analysis, problem-solving and multi-disciplinary research in three main thematic areas. Applicants will select one of the three thematic areas at the time of their application and identify how their individual research will fit into an interdisciplinary investigation of the issues. In addition to identifying a primary thematic area for their research and group work, applicants should also select a secondary thematic area with relevance to their work in order to demonstrate: 1) the interdisciplinary scholarship of their research within a thematic area; and 2) the interdisciplinary scholarship of their research across the FAI III thematic areas:
    • Arctic Security and Cooperation: The Arctic region benefits from innovative models of international cooperation, particularly in the areas of search and rescue, management of the Arctic marine environment, emergency preparedness for global pandemics and collaborative governance through oversight bodies such as the Arctic Council.  Individual Arctic states have also created innovative models of co-management and self-government with Indigenous peoples. As the Arctic region becomes more accessible, the need for greater attention to Arctic security in all its dimensions—human security, environmental security, energy security, and traditional security—will continue to grow in importance.
    • Arctic Infrastructure in a Changing Environment: More research is needed to understand the environmental changes taking place in the Arctic and the impacts they are having on the built environment. The prosperity and security, and health of the region depend on sound infrastructure for housing, transportation, communications and energy, and emergency response system.  Changes to land, human and marine environments are placing stress on both coastal and inland communities in the Arctic. At the same time, these very same changes are generating interest in the Arctic for energy and mineral resources, increasing tourism, and opening up new fisheries and transportation routes. The global energy transition is placing greater pressures in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions as sources for renewable energy from wind and hydro, as well as mineral resources. Together, these trends provide new opportunities for sustainable development that have the potential to improve life for Arctic communities.
    • Community Dimensions of Health: The health of children, youth, adults, and the elderly is vital to the security of Arctic communities and the region’s future. While Arctic communities are constantly innovating to address their own needs, environmental fluctuations, underdeveloped infrastructures, food insecurities, economic development, infectious diseases, health disparities, and entrenched institutional systems have created challenges for human health and the diverse ecologies of Arctic peoples. Most recently global pandemics pose an extreme risk to isolated Arctic communities due to under-resourced health care services, transportation challenges and limited housing options. Citizens of the Arctic are looking to engage in research that addresses their concerns and will find ways to improve and sustain human health in the Arctic.
  • Arctic Initiative Scholars work in multidisciplinary and multinational research teams in the program thematic areas described above.
  • The Fulbright Arctic Initiative supports research that will inform policy and provide knowledge supporting a more sustainable Arctic future.
  • 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, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), 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: An International Collaborative Model (August 19, 2020 - 12:00 pm EDT) - Archived Webinar
  • An Overview of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative (Mar 9, 2020 12:00 PM EDT) - Archived Webinar
  • Program Flyer - Download
Grant/Program Dates or Duration:

Program activities will take place over 18 months beginning in Spring 2021.



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

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.

Eligibility requirements apply at the time of application. Applicants must meet all of the following requirements, unless specific exemptions apply. The complete Fulbright policies are available here (Chapters 600 and 700)

  • Applicants must be from one of the member states of the Arctic Council: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), 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.

  • A Ph.D. or equivalent professional/terminal degree is preferred. For professionals and practitioners 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.

  • Preference for Fulbright Scholar opportunities will be given to candidates who have not previously received a Fulbright Scholar grant.  Recipients of a Fulbright Scholar grant are eligible to apply for another Fulbright Scholar grant two years after the date of completion of the previous grant. (For serial grants, the two-year period begins at the end of the final grant in the series.) Applicants may apply for only one Fulbright Scholar regional program or country per academic year.

  • 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 Institute of International Education’s Council for International Exchange of Scholars (IIE/CIES).

    Please note: Candidates who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States will be given preference, provided their qualifications are approximately equivalent to those of other candidates.

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, re-enter 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. For country-specific application instructions, application deadline and contact information, visit the local Fulbright office website:


February 2020 |

Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholar Competition Opens

September 15, 2020 |

U.S. Scholar Application Deadline

December 2020 |

Finalists notified of selection decisions

March 2021 |

Opening Group Meeting (Canada)

Winter 2021-2022 |

Mid-year Group Meeting (Norway, TBC)

Fall 2022 |

Final Group Meeting (Washington, DC)


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Meet the 2020-2021 Co-Lead Scholars

Dr. Gwen Healey Dr. Elizabeth Lynne Rink is a Professor of Community Health in the Department of Health and Human Development at Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA. She received her Ph.D. in Public Health from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Dr. Rink conducts mixed-methods, community based participatory research with Indigenous communities in Montana and Greenland to address the social determinants of reproductive health. She is particularly interested in how diverse systems in the human ecology influence reproductive health, ethical practices in research, and developing innovative intervention models. Dr. Rink is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Fellow examining the implementation of trauma informed policies within Indigenous governance structures to promote reproductive health equity. Dr. Rink was a scholar in Cohort II of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative Program and completed her exchange with the Thule Institute at the University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland. She serves as a faculty research mentor with the Center for American Indian and Rural Health Equity at Montana State University and the Montana-Alaska American Indian/Alaska Native Center for Clinical and Translational Research. Her research receives funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Nicole Kanayurak

Dr. Greg Poelzer is a Professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) at the University of Saskatchewan. He is the Co-Director with Dr. Bram Noble of a multi-million dollar SSHRC Partnership Grant (2019-2026), Community Appropriate Sustainable Energy Security (CASES), which spans 15 Indigenous and Northern communities across Canada, Alaska, Norway, and Sweden.  He also is the Lead of the Renewable Energy in Remote and Indigenous Communities Flagship Initiative at the University of Saskatchewan and Lead of the UArctic Thematic Network on Renewable Energy.  Dr. Poelzer is an alumnus and lead of the Energy Group of the inaugural Fulbright Arctic Initiative cohort. His exchange took place at ISER, University of Alaska Anchorage. Dr. Poelzer serves as an Advisor and Negotiator for SaskPower, working toward a global settlement with a major First Nation in northern Saskatchewan that will resolve historical issues and build new relationships going forward. A political scientist by training, his deep connections with industry, government, NGO’s and Indigenous communities in Canada and across the circumpolar states are successfully driving both initiatives.

For over twenty-five years, Greg Poelzer has engaged in research focused on comparative politics and policy as it relates to Aboriginal-state relations; energy and resource development in the Circumpolar north; capacity-building in northern regions; and northern development. He has written extensively on the historical and contemporary aspects of communities located in the circumpolar north and the Canadian sub-arctic, focusing on Aboriginal development, the development of regional infrastructure and the mining sector. His previous works have examined community engagement in environmental assessment for resource development; strategic environmental assessments for Arctic offshore energy planning and development; and Aboriginal political culture in Northern Saskatchewan. Greg’s first book, Arctic Front: Defending Canada in the Far North (2008), was awarded (with his co-authors) the Donner Prize for excellence and innovation in Canadian public policy writing. His second co-authored book, From Treaty Peoples to Treaty Nation: A Road Map for All Canadians, focuses on Aboriginal success stories and approaches to improved Aboriginal-state relationships, was published in 2015, and shortlisted for three book awards. In addition, Dr. Poelzer was the founding director of the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development (ICNGD), and former Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the University of the Arctic (2003-2008).

Program Highlights

Fulbright Arctic Initiative FAQs from Applicants

  1. Can I propose a project in more than one country or location?
    U.S. Scholars must select one of the Arctic member council countries in which to conduct their research exchange visit and may select secondary/alternate countries.  Non-U.S. Scholars must conduct their research exchange in the U.S.  Research exchange visits must be a minimum of 6 consecutive weeks and maximum of 3 consecutive months. Please note that the grant allowance is intended to support all costs associated with the individual exchange visit, including travel to one or more exchange site(s). 
  2. Can I complete my individual exchange in Greenland or the Faroe Islands?
    Greenland and the Faroe Islands are constituent countries within the Kingdom of Denmark. U.S. scholars can complete their individual research exchange visit in Greenland or the Faroe Islands, with support for grant administration provided by the Fulbright Commission in Denmark.
  3. Do I have to complete my individual exchange all at once, or can I make multiple visits?
    Yes, you can propose to split your individual exchange visit into multiple trips, but you must spend a minimum of 6 consecutive weeks on at least one of your visits. Your project statement should include a clear and compelling reason why the project needs to be completed over multiple visits.
  4. I’m a federal or state government employee. Can I apply?
    Yes, employees of federal and state government agencies are eligible to apply.
  5. How do I make contacts abroad to secure a letter of invitation?
    A letter of invitation is recommended, but not required for this program at the time the application is due. If you do not have a contact, your goal is to determine the name of an appropriate faculty member for a specific discipline or subfield related to your proposed research project. Once you have determined possible hosts, write that faculty member a description of who you are (an attached C.V. can be helpful) and what you want to do while in that country. Note that you plan to apply for a Fulbright grant and that the application would benefit from a letter of invitation. There may be several communications before a letter is forthcoming, but this method often works.
  6. Am I eligible if I’ve had a previous Fulbright grant?
    Preference for Fulbright Scholar opportunities will be given to candidates who have not previously received a Fulbright Scholar grant.  Recipients of a Fulbright Scholar grant are eligible to apply for another Fulbright Scholar grant two years after the date of completion of the previous grant. (For serial/Flex grants, the two-year period begins at the end of the final grant in the series.) Additional Fulbright policies are available here.
  7. Can I apply if I am on the Fulbright Specialist Roster?
    You are allowed to apply to the Fulbright Arctic Initiative while on the Fulbright Specialist roster. Recipients of a Fulbright Specialist Program grant are not required to adhere to the two-year waiting period before applying for a Fulbright Scholar grant. Likewise, recipients of a Fulbright Scholar grant are not required to adhere to the two-year waiting period before applying for a Fulbright Specialist Program grant.
  8. Can artists/journalists/photographers apply?
    Yes, applicants are welcome from candidates from a non-academic background, including artists, journalists, lawyers, indigenous and traditional knowledge experts, and other professionals and experts active in the academic, public or private sectors who demonstrate outstanding qualifications and a record of experience and accomplishment in an area clearly related to one of the designated research themes.
  9. If I am selected, can I take my family with me on my grant?
    Yes. Many grantees bring their families and report that the time abroad benefited all family members. No additional financial benefits for dependents are awarded for the Fulbright Arctic Initiative.