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GCSC Seminar Lawson Brigham “The New Maritime Arctic: Changing Access, Global Connections and Geopolitics”

February 16, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm MST

Lawson Brigham, Distinguished Research Professor of Geography and Arctic Policy, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Wilson Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The complexity of the changing Arctic: climate change, new marine operations, natural resource development, the Arctic Council and links of the Arctic to the global economy.


Meeting ID 942 3727 1485  Passcode 816762

Abstract: The 21st century maritime Arctic is undergoing extraordinary change. A perfect storm of profound climate change, globalization, indigenous peoples’ challenges, and regional and global geopolitics is reshaping the Arctic’s identity and engagement in global affairs. Despite these forces of great change, the Arctic remains one of the most peaceful places on Earth. One of the key reasons for this paradox is the close cooperation of the eight Arctic states within the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum that has operated effectively since its 1996 establishment in the Ottawa Declaration.  Focusing its efforts on environmental protection and sustainable development, the Arctic Council has become the premier Arctic body addressing a broad range of issues facing the Arctic states and Arctic indigenous peoples. A significant challenge for the Arctic states and wider international community is to keep the future region protected and peaceful, while realizing the potential economic benefits of developing its vast natural resources. How the global maritime enterprise will safely use an Arctic Ocean undergoing increasing marine access is one of the intriguing challenges confronting the region.

The global oceans have divided and connected mankind for centuries. During this century the Arctic Ocean is poised to be a new, primarily seasonal waterway that facilitates the movement of scare natural resources (oil, gas, hard minerals, freshwater, and fish) out of the Arctic to global markets. The region can remain peaceful with continued, close Arctic state cooperation. However, the Arctic will require more engagement of many non-Arctic states on issues related to governance, research, and natural resource development. Responding to Arctic climate change will remain a serious global issue, as will the challenge of addressing Arctic indigenous peoples’ issues related to climate change, globalization and historic rights.

Bio:  Lawson W. Brigham, PhD is a Resident Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC and a researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).  He is currently a member of the National Academies Polar Research Board and a Fellow in the Center for Arctic Study & Policy at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.  Captain Brigham was a career Coast Guard officer and commanded four ships including the polar icebreaker Polar Sea on Arctic & Antarctic expeditions; he also served as the Coast Guard’s Chief of Strategic Planning in Washington, DC.  During 2004-09 he was chair of the Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment and Vice Chair of the Council’s Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group. Dr. Brigham has been a Marine Policy Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; a faculty member of the Coast Guard Academy, Naval Postgraduate School, and UAF (as Distinguished Professor of Geography & Arctic Policy); and, Alaska Director of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.  He is a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, a Naval War College distinguished graduate, and holds graduate degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (MS) and Cambridge University (MPhil & PhD).  His research interests have focused on strategic planning, the Russian maritime Arctic, environmental change, global marine transportation, Arctic security and polar geopolitics. Captain Brigham was a 2008 signer of the American Geographical Society’s Fliers’ and Explorers’ Globe, the Society’s historic global of exploration, in recognition of Polar Sea’s 1994 voyages becoming the first ship in history to reach the extreme ends of the global ocean. Dr. Brigham is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was elected to the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research (2013).  A central peak in the Gonville & Caius Range, Victoria Land, Antarctica was named Mount Brigham in January 2008 by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.


February 16, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm MST
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