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Community Meetings - Sharing Ideas, Time, and Space

Community meetings are the oldest form of outreach utilized by Arctic researchers to engage with local Arctic residents. Nearly 100 years ago, while travelling through Utqiaġvik in 1924 during his famous scientific expedition across the Arctic, Greenlandic scientist and explorer Knud Rasmussen recalled being “invited to give a lecture at the local school house” to engage with community members. To this day, meeting with local community members in the Arctic remains as one of the most effective forms of engagement between Arctic scientists and Arctic residents.

Small Community Meetings

The Battelle ARO O&E Team can assist in organizing small meetings between scientists and local residents. The format of small community meetings is flexible and may include short seminars, roundtable meetings, or town hall discussions. As a gesture of respect and custom among local cultures in the Arctic, sharing food and/or refreshments during community gatherings can greatly increase local engagement. The O&E Team can assist in planning, advertising, organizing, and hosting the event, so that science teams can focus on engaging with community members.

Large Community Meetings and Community Barbeques

Large community meetings are typically organized to coordinate O&E efforts for multiple projects working in the same region or community, or to kickoff large long-term projects. Food and/or refreshments can be served as a gesture of respect and door prizes are customarily organized to instill local interest and engagement.

Taking Part in Local Meetings and Events

The O&E Team pays close attention to local event calendars for opportunities to provide project information and updates at community meetings, community events, and other local gatherings (not organized by the Battelle ARO O&E Team).

Virtual Meetings

Virtual platforms have become increasingly important for people to meet and communicate. The O&E Team can set up and host virtual meetings between scientists, researchers, local stakeholders, and/or the public. These meetings will be organized in real-time to allow engagement with participants, and recorded for later distribution the public on the Battelle Arctic Gateway web portal.


Sharing information with local communities and local classrooms in the Arctic about project information, findings, and updates is an extremely important component of all Arctic research projects. The O&E Team provides several options for researchers to share their observations and data with both the community and K-12 classrooms. Community education will take place in the variety of community meeting and local representation options as listed in this document. Other options for education are listed below.

K-12 Classroom Visits (In-person)

K-12 classrooms across the Arctic are typically very welcoming to scientists who want to physically visit classrooms and share their science with K-12 students. The O&E Team maintains updated contact lists of local educators to set up these events, and takes extra steps in making sure the event is mutually beneficial to both scientists and students by communicating early with educators and scientists in the planning process. The early communication allows for the O&E Team to correlate subject matter of the visit with local teaching schedules. We strive to complement and reinforce the school’s curriculum when possible.

Field Schools

Field schools take school visits a step further and bring the students into the field to conduct science experiments and activities. This takes more planning for all parties involved, including the educators, the scientists, and the O&E Team.

Long-term K-12 Engagement Options

Longer term K-12 engagement plans include ongoing communication and meetings over a series of weeks, months or years. For instance, if a project is planning to conduct science in or near a small village for multiple years, it may make sense to develop a long term O&E plan with the local educators and community leaders. This may mean meeting with a particular class every few weeks over a semester, setting up an annual field school, or working with a small group of students on a science fair project. It is important to be flexible with planning and responsive to local curriculum, classroom schedules, and previously established activities.

Virtual Educational Labs and Workshops

Virtual educational labs engage scientists with local schools in the Arctic through guided activities over video conferencing. These labs can include either a single event or multiple sessions. Lab activities may or may not require sending materials to the classrooms to utilize for participation.

Researcher Orientations and Liaison Resources

The NSF’s Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic directs scientists to be accountable to Arctic communities, to establish communication, to respect traditional knowledge, to build and sustain relationships, and to pursue responsible stewardship in the Arctic.  However, researchers need the tools and resources necessary to properly implement these principles. The Battelle ARO O&E Team will provide a variety of resources to educate and orient research teams about the basics of properly engaging with Arctic communities.

Locally Relevant Team Orientations

The Battelle ARO O&E Team can set up and host virtual orientation sessions to prepare research teams prior to their deployment to the field. Subject matter of orientation sessions will be tailored to cover geographical and topical areas relevant each project. Examples of topics available: (1) Introduction to Coastal Communities in the Arctic, (2) Alaska Native Organizations 101, (3) North Slope Whaling History and 2020 Season Update, and (4) Overview of the MMPA of 1972.


Community Observer for Research Vessels

A documentary video produced by Lloyd Pikok, Jr. a community observer onboard Sikuliaq in 2022.


8th Grade Sea Ice Field Trip 3/30/23-3/31/23 in Utqiagvik, AK

About 60 eighth-grade students from Utqiaġvik Eben Hopson Middle School walked onto the sea ice to learn about its properties. The 8th Grade Sea Ice Field Trip — hosted by UIC Science in collaboration with the National Science Foundation support, North Slope Borough School District, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Arctic Observatory and Knowledge Hub, the University of Washington, the National Ice Center and other organizations — was a two-day event. On March 30, students went outside close to the football field, split into smaller groups and rotated between four hands-on learning stations. On March 31st, they reinforced their learning during lab activities.


Other Options:
Local Representations of your Project

Social Media Representation

Social media has become an important tool to communicate in the Arctic. The O&E Team can introduce your project and provide updates to locals in the Arctic through social media platforms. Researchers can simply fill out the O&E Request Form and the team will begin the process of providing local representation of your project through social media platforms utilizing recognizable templates for project introductions, project updates, community event notifications, and more.

Interview / Podcast

An option for scientists to share information and engage with Arctic communities are recorded interviews between local O&E Team and research project members. The interviews will focus on questions that engage a listener to learn about researchers, their work, and how their interesting findings relate to everyday life on the North Slope. They are delivered to communities through local radio stations and made available to the public on the Arctic Gateway web portal [click here to listen] as a series of podcasts. For live interviews, the podcasts will be recorded using the UIC Science recording studio in Utqiagvik. Researchers will have the ability to take part in interviews over the phone, as well.

Additional Options in Utqiaġvik, Alaska

BARC Science Fair – (typically held last weekend of July)

The Battelle ARO O&E Team hosts an annual 3-day BARC Science Fair in Utqiaġvik during the summer for visiting scientists to take part in activities with students and the community.  Each of the three days include afternoon youth activities, a community “BARC-B’que”, and evening science presentations. Local, national, and international research institutions engage with hundreds of local students and residents. The purpose of the BARC Science Fair is to provide a positive space for Arctic researchers and Arctic residents to meet, eat with each other, spend time, and share ideas; and to inspire the youth of the Arctic by providing fun and educational activities that are based in science and traditional knowledge.

Tribal College Engagement

Battelle ARO Utqiagivk operator, UIC Science, is a longtime neighbor to Iḷisaġvik College, the only Tribal College in Alaska. The O&E Team can assist researchers in engaging with local college classes at Iḷisaġvik College either through a single event, or through longer term engagement.

Arctic Science Career Fair (TBD)

The O&E Team plans to begin hosting an annual virtual career fair offered to high school students and young adults in the Arctic, in which scientists at all career levels (undergraduate, graduate, post-grad, PIs, etc.) and logistics providers (people who make a career supporting Arctic research) will share advice and stories about their own career pathways, and potential opportunities for the local students to learn about and be inspired by. The O&E Team plans to invite local high schools in the Arctic, the local Tribal College in northern Alaska (Ilisagvik College), the University of Alaska rural campuses (Nome, Dillingham, Kotzebue), and will advertise on local radio stations and over social media.

For more information on how to plan AK Outreach and Engagement, contact Battelle ARO's Indigenous Liaison.