Reframing the Arctic: Cooperation, Not Conflict Workshop

July 6, 2015 – July 7, 2015

Location:  Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont USA

Reframing the Arctic: Cooperation, Not Conflict Workshop

This workshop is being organized by The University of Vermont (Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security and the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources), in partnership with the University of Queensland, Australia through a grant from the US Army Research Office

The workshop builds on work undertaken in the volume Diplomacy on Ice: Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and the Antarctic (Yale University Press, 2015) which was partially supported by the The Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland and the Brian Bronfman Foundation.

July 6-7, 2015 – 

Burlington, VT, USA

University of Vermont

Too much of the popular narrative, in particular media framing, of polar politics is driven by the notion of inevitable conflict. The “Arctic cold war” trend piece continues to characterize coverage across popular media, reinforced by the regular publication of books that support such an interpretation. If the policymaking community and general public is only exposed to alarming and dramatic stories about polar conflict, public and policy discourse may be distorted. Scholars and policymakers who work in polar regions have a duty to analyze and discuss conflict-driven framing, and to push back against this typology when appropriate. This conference will aim to make meaningful progress in considering the consequences of conflict framing, as well as addressing how skilful framing and creative diplomacy may promote cooperation over conflict.

The two-day conference will address current areas where conflict is frequently presumed to exist in the polar regions: energy, sovereignty, securitization, and human rights, and will dissect the reality of policy development in each area versus perceived or media-driven frames. The structure will be built around workshops, and each contributor will be asked to share work that addresses cooperation at the poles. The goal of the symposium will be to produce a special volume of papers with a common theme of combating the notion of inevitable polar conflict, and therefore the number of participants will be limited. Whether working at tribal, national, or international levels, all participants will be asked a framing question on conflict and cooperation around which their work should cohere.

Abstract submissions are now closed but we welcome attendance from interested scholarsl.

If you are interested in attending the conference you are also requested to email the organizers (, and )  to register with “Arctic conference registration” in subject heading of email, so we have accurate information on attendance numbers. There is no registration fee for the conference.

With funding from the Army Research Office and in partnership with the University of Queensland, Australia we anticipate the ability to cover some travel/accommodation costs for workshop participants. Members of the public will be welcome to attend workshop events.


Preliminary Topical Agenda

Monday, July 6

Welcome/introductory remarks (10:55)

How polar dynamics are framed in conflict (11:00-noon)      

Lunch/film screening (12:00-1:30)

Security in the Arctic (1:45-3:00)

Impact of conflict framing on Arctic peoples (3:15-4:30)

Conference dinner (location TBD)

Tuesday, July 7         

Breakfast (8:30-9:00) 

Reframing energy and minerals in the Arctic (9:00-10:15)

Shipping, sovereignty, and diplomacy (10:30-11:45)

Lunch (12:00-1:00)

Environment versus development? (1:15-2:30)

Assessment of existing conflict (2:45-3:30)

Conference wrap-up (3:30-4:00)

Skip to toolbar