Photo by Arvid Høidahl on Unsplash

Arctic research has seen growing interest in co-creative and collaborative approaches in recent years. Awareness about the harms of past and present practices and the need to decolonize institutions and methods and to Indigenize research has increased. Experience has been gained in bringing together different forms of knowledge systems and expertises, illustrating clearly that co-creative projects can produce better results with greater societal relevance.

Still, research carried out on Indigenous lands often continues to benefit primarily researchers coming from outside the Arctic (ITK, 2018). Institutional and other barriers hinder Indigenous-led and co-creative research, and Indigenous Knowledge is regularly misrepresented as ‘non-scientific’ and misunderstood in research processes (Pfeifer, 2017; Wheeler et al., 2020). Research questions and funding agendas continue to be defined outside the Arctic, dismissing the fact that Indigenous peoples are the original stewards of and hold immense knowledge about Arctic lands, waters, and ecosystems.

To ensure that exploitative research practices will be overcome, and research relationships are improved, it is necessary to address the ‘how to’ of co-creative research: How can meaningful and trustful collaboration be achieved across academic disciplines? How can we address data sovereignty? How can research relationships be maintained during times without funding?  How do funding schemes need to change to enable co-creation? What does co-creation mean from Indigenous perspectives?

On November 25-26, 2021, researchers from all disciplines, Indigenous rights holders, policy makers, activists, and others with an interest in Arctic research and research ethics came together during a virtual, 2-day workshop to improve research relationships and address the ‘how to’ of co-creative research.



Indigenous Voices on Research

Co-creation, co-production and collaboration constitute concepts that continue to be defined predominantly by funders and non-Indigenous researchers. This has far-reaching consequences for research practices and constitutes a continuation of colonial epistemological domination. The first session of the workshop will therefore place a focus on Indigenous concepts, understandings of and experiences with meaningful research relationships. 

Listen & respond

Arctic research involves multiple actors, each of them having different expectations, needs, and ways of knowing, seeing and engaging. This session will bring together representatives of funding organizations, scientific institutions, ethics boards and individual researchers and members of Indigenous communities to share their perspectives and visions on co-creation and collaboration in research. How have projects and initiatives been experienced? What has worked and what has not? What are key needs and challenges? What actions need to be taken? The session will be split in two parts to allow in-depth reflection and provide the time needed to address a complex topic. In the 1st part, each contributor will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and listen to others. We will then take time to reflect on what was said, before there will be time to respond, engage in discussion, and ask questions in the part 2. This session aims to provide a safe space for respectful conversations, to create bridges, and mutual understanding. 

Publishing co-creative research

This workshop session will focus on one of the last steps of co-creative research projects, which is often not discussed – the publication and representation of research results. This includes responsibilities of all partners involved, capacity of Indigenous communities to deal with high workloads resulting from research partnerships, ethics, authorship and intellectual property rights, monetary aspects (allocation of royalties), new dynamics on the publishing market (e.g. Indigenous publishing houses), and the role publishers in the decolonization of the publishing arena.

Storytelling and the Art of Listening

Different Perspectives, forms of knowledge, and means of transmission

This session wants to engage with concrete cases that illustrate and give insights into transdisciplinary collaborations between different disciplines, fields of knowledge, and forms of transmitting them. Questions that this session wants to address include

How can we become aware of the boundaries between different fields of knowing, seeing and experiencing (in and outside academia), which are often strong and exclusive, but also more complex and fluid than may appear at first sight?

  • How can we identify and tackle challenges and find ways to transcend existing boundaries? 
  • How can scientists learn to engage with the different levels and voices in Indigenous ways of knowing?
  • What is needed for genuine relationships and dialogues that are based on self-reflection, recognition of differences and ways to bridge them
  • How can ways of transmission and ways of knowing in art and media open new doors for dialogues and what are the challenges to do so?

This session would like to invite representatives of different perspectives and fields, from Indigenous communities, diverse academic disciplines, science and humanities, arts and media to discuss their experiences, success stories and challenges of transdisciplinary collaboration and to think about how their know-how could be shared and genuine dialogue be fostered.

Natural sciences and co-creative research 

This session will bring together non-Indigenous natural scientists and Indigenous researchers and community representatives. The questions addressed in this session will include: How to build research relationships, how to collaborate and co-create research that focuses on or takes place on Indigenous lands, how to create inclusive methodologies and ways of knowing that incorporate natural science methods and techniques and Indigenous sciences, how to ensure mutual learning and two-way capacity building, how to communicate and share research?

Mini-coaching session

This session will provide an opportunity to discuss planned projects and receive feedback. Presenters will be asked to focus on particular challenges in the development of their projects to enable mutual learning. Each project will be presented in a 3-minute poster pitch, followed by in-depth conversation in break-out rooms. 



Anna Burdenski, University of Vienna, Austria

As an early-career-scientist, my main emphasis is on Greenland and Arctic research, Indigenous and participatory/collaborative research methods as well as transformation research. I am currently pursuing a PhD in social anthropology at the University of Vienna and I am research associate at the inter- and transdisciplinary research project Snow2Rain. Focusing on collaborative and participatory research, our project aims at understanding how environmental changes, in particular the transition from snow to rain, are influencing quality of life in Tasiilaq. From an anthropological perspective, I am investigating the social dimensions of human-environment relations in the context of East Greenland and the relation between environmental change and future imaginations of East Greenlanders. By valuing collaborative approaches, I aim to address how socio-environmental changes affect local and Indigenous societies in the Arctic. I have been involved with and passionate about Greenland since 2017. Additionally, I have a background in social sciences, in the areas of social interactions, intercultural encounters and perceptions in the tourism landscape.

Stephan Dudeck, Foundation for Siberian Cultures, Germany; Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland;  European University at St. Petersburg;  Sociological Institute of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia

Stephan Dudeck is an anthropologist working at the Foundation for Siberian Cultures, Fürstenberg/Havel, (Germany), the Centre for Arctic Social Studies at the European University at Saint Petersburg (Russia), the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland (Finland) and the Centre of Arctic and Siberian Exploration at the Sociological Institute of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He has established close collaborations with Siberian Indigenous peoples and conducted long-term anthropological fieldwork with Siberian reindeer herding communities. 

Shelly Elverum, Ikaarvik, Canada

Shelly Elverum is engaging Inuit youth to reclaim their roles as the Arctic’s first scientists, capable of managing resources, determining their cultural and economic futures, and adapting to rapid climate and cultural change in the North. Shelly is a Fellow of the RCGS and an Ashoka Changemaker, a recipient of the Governor’s General for Innovation, and a double laureate of the Arctic Inspiration Prize (Ikaarvik 2013, SmartICE 2016).


Charleen Fisher, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA

Dr. Daazhraii Charleen Fisher is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Dr. Fisher has significant experience in primary, intermediate, secondary education and maintains a current teaching and principal endorsement in Alaska and Hawaii (teaching only). As the former, Federal Programs Director for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District she has considerable administrative experience in K-12. She is the former Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (CATG) Executive Director. Dr. Fisher worked to indigenize capacity development management structures and incorporated Indigenous values and practices into the day-to-day operations of CATG. Dr. Fisher also participates indigenous program evaluation for CATG. Dr. Fisher also writes grants for multiple organizations in the area of Indigenous language revitalization. Charleen graduated with a BA in Political Science, M.Ed. in Education and has an Indigenous Studies PhD. Dr. Fisher currently serves on multiple statewide boards in Alaska including the Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute of Alaska, the Alaska Humanities Forum and Doyon Ltd.

Louise Flaherty, Inhabit Media Inc., Canada

Louise Flaherty grew up in Clyde River, in the Canadian Arctic. Early on, Louise was fortunate to be surrounded by great storytellers. Her grandparents instilled in her a passion for Inuktitut, and an understanding that speaking Inuktitut is a fundamental part of Inuit identity. Seeing Inuit who were far more literate in English than in Inuktitut sparked Louise’s passion for the promotion and preservation of Inuktitut literacy. She graduated with a Bachelor of Education in 1993 and a Master of Education in 2013, and since then has been working hard to promote Inuktitut literacy. She was a teacher for eight years before joining the Nunavut Teacher Education Program as program manager training future generations of Inuit teachers, and eventually served as director of Inuit Language and Culture for Nunavut Arctic College. Louise was Deputy Minister for Culture and Heritage, and the Deputy Minister for Education within the Government of Nunavut from 2018-2019. Louise co-founded Inhabit Media, an independent publishing house dedicate to the preservation and promotion of Inuit knowledge and values and the Inuktitut language. Inhabit Media was incorporated in 2006 and has since published hundreds of books and Inuktitut resources that are used in classrooms throughout Nunavut.

Bruce C. Forbes, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland

Prof. Forbes has a background in applied ecology and geography in northern high latitudes, with special emphasis on permafrost regions. His experience is circumpolar, encompassing studies of rapid land use and climate change in Alaska, the Canadian High Arctic, various regions of northern Russia, and northernmost Fennoscandia. His approach is strongly interdisciplinary and participatory, aiming for the co-production of knowledge, particularly concerning local and regional stakeholder-driven research questions. He has conducted fieldwork annually in the Arctic for over 35 years.

Thora Martina Herrmann, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Germany

I study the social-cultural dimensions of human-environment interactions, focusing on the impacts of climate and socio-environmental changes on local and Indigenous societies, the place-people relationships, and the forms of values, knowledge and use practices of biodiversity by societies. I am also working on the protection of plant and animal species by integrating biological, ecological and socio-cultural dimensions (biocultural approach to conservation). My research focuses on experiences of citizen science. Currently I am coordinating the development of the German Citizen Science Strategy 2030.
In my projects, I use participatory action research methods, such as filmmaking, photovoice, and interactive participatory mapping. I contributed to several documentary films.

Ellen Marie Jensen, Sámi University of Applied Sciences and Centre for Women’s and Gender Research, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Sápmi

Ellen Marie Jensen, Ph.D. is both coastal Sámi with roots in the fjord communities of Lákkovuotna and Áksovuotna in Finnmark Province (Norway) and American from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is an Associate Professor at Sámi University of Applied Sciences and guest researcher at the Centre for Women’s and Gender Research, UiT The Arctic University of Norway. She holds a PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Cultural Studies concentration), a master in Indigenous Studies, and a master in English literature and cultural studies. Jensen’s transdisciplinary scholarship and teaching broadly address Sámi migration, diasporic Indigeneity, media studies, storytelling and storytelling as methodology, feminism and gender studies, and Indigenous research methodologies and ethics.  She is currently working on a manuscript on storytelling methodologies grounded in trans-Atlantic and trans-medial perspectives.

Soraya Kaiser, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany

Soraya Kaiser is a PhD researcher at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research and graduated in geoinformatics from University of Potsdam. Using remote sensing imagery from satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) her research focuses on the understanding of erosion and mass movement processes that are triggered by permafrost degradation in Arctic landscapes. Within the newly funded BMBF citzen science project “UndercoverEisAgenten” she supports the project management and communication with schools and Arctic communities

Erich Kasten, Foundation for Siberian Cultures, Germany

Dr Erich Kasten studied social and cultural anthropology and taught at the Free University of Berlin. He has conducted extensive field research in the Canadian Pacific Northwest and in Kamchatka and has curated international museum exhibitions. As the first coordinator of the Siberian research group at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, he studied transformations in Post-Soviet Siberia. In ensuing projects for UNESCO and the National Science Foundation, he documented and analyzed indigenous knowledge. Since 2010 he has been the director of the Foundation for Siberian Cultures in Fürstenberg/Havel (Germany). More recently he has also applied himself to developing web archives and Internet interfaces with the purpose of enhancing access and sustaining endangered cultural heritage (https://dh-north.org; https://ek-north.org)

Justin Milton,  Ikaarvik, Canada

Justin Milton is the manager for the Ikaarvik organization. He is an Inuk from Pond Inlet, Nunavut, but has resided in Ottawa for the last 5 years. Justin works with researchers that engage with the Arctic, as well as Inuit youth from Nunavut to ensure that good relationships are made in the North.

Elle Merete Omma, Saami Council, Sápmi

Ms Elle Merete Omma is born and raised in a reindeer herding family in Norway and in Sweden. She is currently the head of the Saami Council EU Unit. Previously she held the position of Executive Secretary of the Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples Secretariat. Prior to her work with the Arctic Council she was Senior Advisor on Sámi Affairs at the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation. She holds a Master in Law from the University of Oslo and a Bachelor degree in Social Science from Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Brenda L. Parlee, University of Alberta, Canada

Brenda L. Parlee is a ‘settler’ scholar from north-eastern Ontario, Canada.   She has a B.A.  from the University of Guelph (1995), and an M.E.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo (1998).  She went on to receive her PhD from the University of Manitoba in Natural Resources and Environmental Management (NREM) in 2005.   She is currently Professor in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences.  She has worked in northern Canada and globally for over 20 years on a range of collaborative and community-based research projects related to community-based monitoring, social-ecological change in the Mackenzie River Basin, wildlife health, Indigenous knowledge of caribou populations,  sustainable resource development, the impacts of mining on community well being, biodiversity conservation and cooperative (co-management) of lands and resources in Alberta.

Volker Rachold, German Arctic Office, Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany

Dr. Volker Rachold is the Head of the German Arctic Office at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), which serves as an information and cooperation platform between German stakeholders from science, politics and industry. Before moving to the German Arctic Office in 2017, he served as the Executive Secretary of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) in Stockholm and Potsdam since 2006.

Dr. Rachold graduated as a geochemist from Göttingen University, where he also obtained his Ph.D. in 1994. Since then he worked with the AWI. His research focused on land-ocean interactions in the Siberian Arctic and he led several land- and ship-based Russian-German expeditions. 

Gertrude Saxinger, University of Vienna & Austrian Polar Research Institute APRI, Austria

Gerti is PhD in social anthropology and focuses on research around social dimensions of mining and oil and gas extraction in the Yukon Territory and in Siberia. Her interest and experience in decolonial research methodology stems in particular from her collaboration with the First Nation of Nacho Nyäk Dun in Mayo/Yukon/Canada where gold and silver mining takes place for more than hundred years. Together with community members, Chief and Council as well as the Heritage Manager of the First Nation of Nacho Nyäk Dun and PhD student Susanna Gartler she has co-published not only academic articles, but also public outlets such as the Mobile Workers Guide for newcoming workforce in mining and the oral history book Dän Hùnày together with Elders from the Nacho Nyäk Dun community that is the first compilation of its kind where Elders from Mayo narrate their stories, memories and opinions around mining in the region which fundamentally changed the land, culture and community over the many decades. Furthermore, together, they have also released the short film Mining on First Nation Land. Gertrude expresses her deepest gratitude to friends and partners in Mayo for ongoing collaboration and publication. Mahsi Cho. 

Dr. Annette Scheepstra, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Annette is a social scientist working at the Arctic Centre, an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Groningen (Netherlands). She has a background in social science and has extensive experience in the organisation of large-scale projects on the border between science and society. She is currently working for the EU-PolarNet 2 project, which shapes the polar research agenda for the EU. In this project she works as a so-called stakeholder guardian, to safeguard stakeholder and rightsholders engagement throughout all aspect of the project.

Annette is also a teacher at the minor Arctic and Antarctic studies. This minor programme is designed to provide a broad social and ecological overview in Arctic human-environment relations, and is suitable for students from a variety of research backgrounds.

Barbara Schellhammer, Munich School of Philosophy, Germany

Barbara started out in Social Work (specializing in systemic family therapy). Ensuing she studied Philosophy. She earned a Ph.D. (Philosophy) and finished her Habilitation (post-doc) in Cultural Philosophy. She worked as professor at the International YMCA University of Applied Sciences in Kassel, Germany, and now holds the chair for Intercultural Social Transformation at the Munich School of Philosophy, where she also heads the Center for Social and Development Studies. For about 15 years she lived in Canada where she worked as associate faculty at the Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C. and conducted research in several communities in the Northwest Territories. Other research projects brought her to Togo and Kenya in Africa. As Academic Director for Jesuit Worldwide Learning she also spent time in refugee camps in Northern Iraq. Her current research interest lies in (inter-)cultural philosophy, peace studies, conflict transformation, self-care practices, and identity. Her latest books deal with the development of “alien-identity”, conflict-coaching and education for resistance.

Jorrit van der Schot, University of Graz, Austria

My name is Jorrit van der Schot. I am a PhD student in Snow Climatology, working on the collaborative and interdisciplinary project Snow2Rain. In this project we focus on understanding environmental changes in East-Greenland, in particular the transition from snow to rain. While doing this we aim to bridge the gap between natural science, social science and the local community in our study area. My specific job for the project is to assess with natural scientific data how both the ratio between snowfall and rainfall, and the snow conditions in general are changing in the area around Tasiilaq (Southeast Greenland). ​It is one of the objectives of our project to consider local perspectives and concerns during this assessment of natural scientific data, for example by integrating local perspectives in the snow modelling approach.

Stan Wilson, University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan; Member of the Council of Elders for Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Canada

Stan is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation where he spent his early years. He has experience teaching at all levels of education including primary, elementary and high school both in the public system and at the First Nations’ level. He earned his B.A. at the University of Saskatchewan and his Ph.D. at the University of California (Santa Barbara). As a university professor Stan conducted research and taught at Brandon University, the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, California State University in Sacramento, the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College and at the University of Alberta. Stan works from within an Indigenous paradigm using what he refers to as “Indigegogy”, promoting and encouraging Aboriginal people, including students to honour and utilize their own unique knowledge base. He was co-founder of the First Nations Graduate Education Program at the University of Alberta as well as the Master of Education degree in Land Based Education there and is now working with a team of International Indigenous scholars to develop an International doctoral program. Stan is bilingual in Cree and English. He is currently an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan. Stan is an active member of the Council of Elders for Opaskwayak Cree Nation.


Silja Zimmermann, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

 Silja Zimmermann is a biogeographer and conservation ecologist working at the Centre for Complex Systems Studies and the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. In her PhD research, she works on sustainability transformations within Arctic food systems. Her research involves the active engagement of Arctic Indigenous communities as she tries to show how complex systems studies combines with transdisciplinary approaches can lead to actual changes on the ground.


Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami [ITK]. (2018). National Inuit strategy on research. https://www.itk.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/ITK_NISR-Report_English_low_res.pdf [Accessed 10 October 2021]

Pfeifer, P. (2018). “From the credibility gap to capacity building: An Inuit critique of Canadian Arctic research.” Northern Public Affairs. http://www.northernpublicaffairs.ca/index/volume-6-issue-1/from-the-credibility-gap-to-capacity-building-an-inuit-critique-of-canadian-arctic-research/ [Accessed 10 October 2021]

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