Mapping the future of the Arctic

April 3, 2013

This March, 40 students from the Ford School and University of Toronto's School of Governance & Public Policy (SGPP) met to discuss the future of the Arctic during the 4th Annual U.S.-Canada Conference. In mixed teams, students imagined what policy situations and challenges would occur if the Arctic ice completely melted by 2050.

The conference format included team case competitions, which tasked students to find solutions focused on the conference theme – North American Policy for the Future of the Arctic, allowing students to network while broadening their views on Arctic issues. It also allowed students to refine their policy analysis and negotiation skills in four areas: natural resource extraction, international trade, the environment, and national security.

After creating policy proposals, the eight teams presented to a panel of judges made up of professors from both universities. The winning team focused on security aspects of the Arctic. They proposed a four-pronged approach that included preventative public safety, responsive public safety, military/regional security, and environment adaptation.

Benjamin Sweeney (MPP '14), who was part of the winning team, thought the conference provided a great opportunity to learn from University of Toronto students about current issues in Canadian politics and a different approach to studying public policy. He also said that he picked up valuable skills at the conference, including quickly assimilating information, making decisions, and pulling it together in a presentation format.

University of Toronto student Katie Millan (MPP '14) stated that the mixed teams created "stronger policy options than what we could have achieved alone." SGPP students also agreed that the Ford School's hospitality was an excellent addition to the weekend. "The students at the University of Michigan were wonderful hosts for the weekend," Millan said. "After just two days on campus, I already felt like cheering for their basketball team!"

[View conference photos]