UVA School of Architecture’s Leena Cho and Matthew Jull, co-directors of the Arctic Design Group and faculty members, were recently published in the Polar Journal, with collaborators and faculty across Grounds, Matthew Burtner, Howard Epstein, and Claire Griffin. Their article, Bridging science, art, and community in the new Arctic (August 2020), highlights the positive impacts of transdisciplinary models of research in addressing the complexity and magnitude of issues many Arctic communities face — especially due to the impacts of climate change, urbanization, and economic transformation. They argue for ‘epistemological plurality’ as inherent in any collective, community-based research and an important first step towards the study and management of socio-ecological systems in the Arctic.

Diverse forms of research sharing and communication were used during the symposium, including oral and poster presentations, music performance, interactive eco-acoustics workshop, art exhibition, and panel discussions with Arctic Youth Ambassadors. Photo credit: Chloé Nagraj and Arctic Design Group (www.arcticdesigngroup.org).

In order to further the development of convergent research practice frameworks that can mutually benefit Arctic communities and scholars conducting transdisciplinary research, the research team organized a three-day symposium entitled Bridging Science, Art, and Community in the New Arctic was held in September 2019 at the University of Virginia. The symposium developed a network for Arctic residents and researchers pursuing similar goals, facilitate knowledge exchange, and outline research practices that can generate mutual understanding and benefit. It further aimed to catalyze creative forms of communicating knowledge across multiple sectors and disciplines by integrating diverse voices and presentation formats into the symposium structure such as storytelling by Alaskan and indigenous youths, recommended in recent Arctic-focused gatherings.

Organized by the University of Virginia (UVA) Arctic Collaboration Lab (Arctic CoLab), within the UVA Environmental Resilience Institute, the symposium convened twenty-one invited guests across the sciences, arts, and design, as well as from the Arctic Youth Ambassador Program, from Alaska and beyond. While the geographic focus of the symposium was in the U.S. Arctic (Alaska), several participants shared their perspectives of working with communities in the Canadian Arctic. Approximately one hundred people attended the symposium, including researchers, educators, students, and practitioners from the disciplines of the environmental sciences, visual arts, music, architecture, landscape architecture, arctic social sciences and policy studies. The participants were mainly from the U.S. with several others joining from Canada, Spain, Australia, and the U.K. Community representatives from Arctic Alaska, University of Virginia, and Charlottesville were present throughout the event.

Read more about the symposium

This article first appeared on the UVA Department of Architecture web site.