U.S. Sen. Murkowski, other experts confront challenges in the Arctic

February 08, 2014

Leading experts, lawmakers, scientists, and environmentalists confronted the complicated and critical issues facing the future of the Arctic at a two-symposium hosted by Seattle University School of Law.

Arctic group

From left: SU President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, 2L Rachel Kallander, and Dean Annette E. Clark.

The Arctic Encounter Symposium was designed to foster focused discussions about how a rapidly changing Arctic will impact international law, domestic policy, business and commerce, the environment, and the people of the Far North. Speakers challenged the status quo dialogue and critically addressed the Arctic's potential, to consider what is at stake, and to collaborate on solutions.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska gave the keynote address, imploring participants to prepare for the time when the U.S. takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council for 2015-17.

Other distinguished speakers included Edward Itta, presidential appointee to the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, former mayor of the North Slope Borough of Alaska, former president of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association and the Inuit Circumpolar Council; Brendan Kelly, assistant director for Polar Sciences, Office of Science & Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, and Fran Ulmer, chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission and former Alaska lieutenant governor.

Seattle University School of Law has longstanding ties to the state of Alaska, the only state without a law school, and was a perfect host for the program. The law school is awaiting approval from the American Bar Association for a satellite campus in Anchorage to allow Alaskan students to spend their entire third year of in their home state. A summer program allows students to learn about issues specific to Alaska while completing internships and externships in a variety of settings in Anchorage.

"Our commitment is to help create the next generation of Alaska lawyers and to continue efforts to diversify the legal profession," Dean Annette E . Clark said. "We have many students who have returned to Alaska to work on the very matters at hand during this symposium."

The program was organized by Rachel Kallander, a 2L from Alaska who has a keen interest in the Arctic, and Associate Professor Deirdre Bowen.

The Seattle University Law Review will publish papers on topics related to the Arctic in a symposium issue.