Published on 7 November 2018

Climate change has been a subject of concern for many years now, the latest IPCC report reminding us of the considerable impact human activities are having on our planet.

What many people do not know is that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe. One of the founding members of Université Paris-Saclay, the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ)—  recently ranked #2 institution worldwide for atmospheric sciences in the 2018 ARWU thematic rankings—has several research centers studying this phenomenon. Among these, the work of CEARC (Cultures, Environments, Arctic, Representations, Climate) focuses notably on human and social sciences within the circumpolar Arctic. UVSQ has also been an associate member of the University of the Arctic (UArctic) since 2010.

UArctic is a cooperative network of higher education institutions, research institutes, and other organizations concerned with circumpolar education and research. UArctic held its second Congress at the beginning of September of this year in Oulu and Helsinki, Finland. Jan Borm, Full Professor and Vice-President in charge of International Relations at UVSQ, as well as co-director of the international Masters 2 program “Arctic Studies” affiliated with Université Paris-Saclay, took part in a panel discussion on the “Challenges and perspectives of education in the Arctic in the climate change context” held at the Finnish Ministry of the Environment.

Together with Dr. Alexandra Lavrillier—deputy director of CEARC and Associate Professor in Social and Cultural Anthropology at UVSQ—Borm hosted another panel on the Arctic worldview in education. The aim of this panel, along with the sharing of best practices, was to compare different approaches in education engaging Arctic worldviews in a wide array of disciplines.

On Oct. 24, long-term partners UVSQ and the Alfred-Wegener-Institut—the German Institute for polar and marine research—held one of the three official side-events of the 2nd Arctic Science Ministerial in Berlin: “Perceiving Arctic Change: Climate, Society, and Sustainability.” UVSQ and AWI have also been for many years now joint organizers of “Gateway to the Arctic,” a yearly Franco-German workshop for Ph.D. students. A regular attendee of the workshop is the University of Lapland (ULap) who has a very active partnership with UVSQ including an Erasmus+ agreement for student and staff mobility that is very popular amongst students. In the past four years, 14 students and 6 staff members benefited from this program. The Law faculties of the two universities just started the Erasmus+ strategic partnership project 3IPEP (Legal changes in international investments, indigenous peoples, and environment protection).

The Arctic network of UVSQ and more generally all colleagues at Université Paris-Saclay working on high latitudes are actively engaged in the interdisciplinary study of climate change and its consequences on the Arctic as the recent collective volume Le froid. Adaptation, production, effets, représentations. (Montréal : Presses de l’Université du Québec, 2018) edited by Jan Borm and Daniel Chartier notably illustrates. UVSQ intends to strengthen its partnerships and involvement in the years to come. Building on the synergy of the different actors from the research centres LATMOS, LSCE in its new location, the ICE building, as well as CEARC, UVSQ hopes to bring to light the Arctic as a prominent research theme, work on multidisciplinary projects with the Humanities & Social Sciences and the Environmental Science departments, and involve indigenous experts from the Arctic in higher education and research.