Opinion: Science in the Changing North


  • Chris Burn Carleton University


In the last five years, northern science has been rejuvenated as national and international attention has been drawn to the Arctic. The principal forces driving the increased interest in the Canadian North are the worldwide demand for minerals and hydrocarbons, and the opening of the Northwest Passage as a result of climate change. The renewed scientific activity is taking place in a social context that has evolved, primarily as a result of land claims’ settlements, so that local agencies require considerably more consultation regarding research projects than they did in the 1980s. Northerners aspire to have research conducted "in the North, for the North, and by the North," but it is likely that collaboration with outsiders will be necessary for some time before there is sufficient capacity in the North to set or fulfill a comprehensive research agenda. This phase in the development of a full northern research capacity requires scientists from outside to engage communities as partners, and to develop the research skills of the resident population.

Author Biography

Chris Burn, Carleton University

Chris Burn holds the NSERC Northern Research Chair in Permafrost in the Yukon and Northwest Territories and is professor of geography and environmental studies at Carleton University, Ottawa.