Calotte Academy as a Method of Research, Supervision and Learning

The Calotte Academy (CA) is on the one hand, an annual traveling symposium in Europe’s Arctic, North Calotte region and an international, independent, though not established, policy-oriented academic forum - with tens of scientific presentations, lively presentations and written reports - in the Arctic. It is designed first, to promote interdisciplinary discourse and second, to foster academic and policy-oriented dialogue among members of the research community, as well as a wide range of other northern stakeholders, such as policy- makers, civil servants, community leaders and planners, and members of academia. On the other hand, it is an international summer school for early-career scientists, particularly PhD candidates and post-docs with an aim to implement the interplay between senior and young researchers, and post-graduate students.

The Calotte Academy is an alternative model for conventional academic conferences. It is also an independent, though not established, academic forum with tens of scientific presentations, lively discussions, and written reports. We also do interdisciplinary border studies by having several crossings of national borders - Finnish-Norwegian, Norwegian-Russian, Russian-Finnish, and sometimes Finnish-Swedish and Norwegian-Swedish -, as well as crossing borders between the Saami Area, Sapmi and the rest of Finland.

The Academy has been arranged annually since 1991 with an aim to bring together academics and other experts, policy-shapers and other stakeholders as well as students and scholars with different academic backgrounds and in different stages of their academic careers. The Academy has a participatory approach with sessions in several destinations with local audiences and expertise. Furthermore, it aims to contribute to discussions and debates over regional development through inviting local and regional stakeholders to participate in the sessions with the intention of sharing research results and insights, creating networks and fostering dialogue between the local and national actors and the international scientific community.

At the Calotte Academy we use to combine a few things, such as research/theory and practice/action; different studies/inter-disciplinarity and different knowledges (trans-disciplinarity); research, supervision and studying/teaching; presentation, participation, interactivity; brainstorming, planning, sharing ideas, having division of work; different scales from local to global; and final, synergy between international networks (e.g. Northern Research Forum, TN on Geopolitics and Security, Arctic Yearbook). Following from this, in each session of the Academy the annual overarching theme is discussed holistically from many angles and disciplinary approaches, and from the perspectives of past(s), present(s) and future(s), as well as from global, Arctic and local context in the European Arctic.

Correspondingly, the Calotte Academy has a few rules and principles – they are first, and foremost, that there is always time for open discussion – usually this means about two times more time for open discussion than for presentation. Second, that each participant will, in addition of her / his presentation, is asked to write a report on one session for the final report of the Academy, and actively participate discussions. Finally, each participant is asked to be flexible, as are the organizers, but keep the time frame and schedule in sessions and in traveling.

Thus, the Calotte Academy uses to implement the social relevance of science, or science diplomacy, by having the interplay between science and politics as one of the main aims. This has been there since the first Calotte Academy, which took place in May 1991 in Inari, Finland. Behind is that the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) was signed at the first ministerial meeting between the eight Arctic states in June 1991 in Rovaniemi, Finland, and the Arctic Council was established in September 1996 in Ottawa, Canada. During its 27 years the Academy has built partnerships between researchers, other experts and community members, and done community-based research as well as developed research models for communities. As an international platform for policy-oriented dialogue and dissemination of research with an emphasis on both expertise and dialogue the Calotte Academy is a post-modern academic stage and workshop that fosters interdisciplinary, knowledge(s), and dialogue-building, and implements the interplay between science and politics. This kind of a “school of dialogue” with serious efforts and flexibility aims to create an open academic discussion, and participatory by nature with an idea to share knowledge and experiences with communities.

Since 2002 the Academy has served as a sub-forum for Open Assemblies of the Northern Research Forum. Since 2010 the CA has acted an annual doctoral summer school for early-career scientists (PhD candidates and Post-docs) from the Arctic states, as well as from the observer countries of the Arctic Council. It has also functioned as the main annual forum for the discussions and research planning of the UArctic-NRF Thematic Network (TN) on Geopolitics and Security. (see Final Reports of the Calotte Academy –

The TN is a joint international, academic network between the University of the Arctic and the Northern Research Forum (see, The Network also publishes The Arctic Yearbook - the 6th volume devoted to Arctic Development in theory and practice will be launched in November 2018 – via which a state of Arctic geopolitics and security will be documented, analyzed and contributed (see, Here the Arctic Yearbook is a major forum for dissemination of the main findings and highlights of the Calotte Academy, as well as further discussion on the themes. Here the Calotte Academy has acted as a springboard for a special ’ecosystem’, including a comprehensive platform for, or ’house’ of, expertise and knowledge, annual sessions for dialogue between different stakeholders, innovative method at all levels of higher education, international peer-reviewed publications.

To conclude, the Calotte Academy is an interdisciplinary brainstorming meeting to bring researchers and other experts from different fields, regions and countries together for to discover innovations and new methods, and produce international research projects as well as plans and applications. This kind of a “school of dialogue” with serious efforts and flexibility aims to create an open academic discussion, and participatory by nature with an idea to share knowledge and experiences with communities. Behind is a need for science and the scientific community to take literally the social relevance of science, and that science is with values and more than labs, it is about people(s), societies and the environment. Briefly saying to ‘take care’, instead of having corrupted norms of double standards, or the current schizophrenic approach of neoliberalism supported by specific expertise and meritocracy, is possible to interpret as a new norm with values. In the turbulent times for Academia, as in many European countries, due to many pressures and cuts in funding this kind of academic forum and activity is a much needed democratic and equal space for a dialogue and brainstorming.