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Senior Joseph Quisol Attends Arctic Council Meeting

Posted by: wichmannkm | November 13, 2015 | No Comment |

Joseph Quisol - Student Spotlight
Political science and international studies double major Joseph Quisol participated in the Senior Arctic Council Officials Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska in October. The Arctic Council is an international forum for setting environmental and social policies within a region undergoing rapid change, including changes in climate and capitalist development. Although only the eight Arctic nations cast votes on issues, the six major Arctic indigenous groups, who contribute to and often drive these policy discussions, also sit at the table. Joseph participated as an official member of the Arctic Athabaskan delegation and was able to witness international policymaking first hand. He is also able to incorporate this experience into his political science bachelor’s essay, “Postcolonial Approaches to Community Development,” under the guidance of Dr. Annette Watson.

The chance to visit Alaska was made possible through Dr. Watson’s National Park Service Award and support from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Through her grant, Dr. Watson was also able to hire Joseph as a research assistant to examine indigenous perspectives on natural resource policy. During the previous summer, Joseph gained great knowledge of quantitative research at the Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute at Princeton University and found this background especially helpful for his research assistant position.

Joseph’s bachelor’s essay will focus specifically on how locals can create their own solutions for issues within their communities, rather than more “top-down” approaches. At the Arctic Council Meeting, he was able to observe how policymaking draws on both traditional indigenous knowledge systems and Western sciences to address issues such as the declining salmon population in the Yukon River. Policy is being created through consensus, and Joseph noted that this collaborative approach is radically different from the methods of the United Nations and other governance strategies.

Joseph has always been interested in “bottom-up” governance and said that the Arctic Council Meeting gave him an opportunity to see how it works in the real world and helped him narrow the focus of his bachelor’s essay. In addition, Joseph met people from across the world and the participants were quite eager to speak with the youngest person in the room. He was able to network with delegates from the United States, Norway, and the Saami Council, as well as with representatives from organizations like the Society of Reindeer Herders and the University of the Arctic. He learned about indigenous strategies of diplomacy from Chief Stickman, the First Chief of the Nulato Tribe of Alaska and the Head of Delegation for the Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC).

Dr. Watson noted, “It was useful to have Joseph participate as a technical advisor to the AAC; he helped to organize a funding strategy for a project that the AAC is working on and to develop an assessment of Arctic salmon fisheries. For me, it was great to have someone there with whom I could share my own insights about how power operates at this high-level forum, as part of my larger research agenda on indigenous politics.”


under: Scholarships and Awards

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