Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 137

137 Arctic Yearbook 2014   education . . . higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.” Increasing the participation and role of women in higher education was emphasized, but the declaration included many other factors and conditions that have resulted in inequitable patterns of participation. Much progress has been made. While many countries have enrolled upwards of 50% of the age cohort (and therefore reflect the extent of massification during the last few decades), too many countries still enroll only a small percentage of their cohort. Poorer nations are likely to enroll fewer students than wealthier nations. Additionally, even as enrollment has expanded, participation has rarely been representative of the society as a whole. Within most nations, access to higher education is often (still) the privilege of specific segments of society. Many nations have attempted to address inequities with aggressive policies (e.g. affirmative action or reservation policies for admission), innovative financing schemes, and tutoring programs, but it is always clear that these patterns are not easily erased and the challenge remains of making higher education truly accessible to all. New providers, new delivery methods, the diversity of postsecondary institutions, and the ease of international mobility should (in theory) make higher education available to more people. While this has indeed been the case, the diversity of opportunities has also helped to underscore those pernicious issues that hamper progress (Trends 2009: 37). For the circumpolar countries, there are existing post-secondary institutions in the Arctic that either by campus or program location and/or through adapted new delivery systems try to improve accessibility. The model of the University of Arctic allows for a dynamic development of shared education systems through mutual cooperation. This network can be a very efficient tool for delivering a relevant curriculum for a changing North (Cruller 2009). For example, more than 40 scientists and students from universities of the U.S., Canada, Finland, Germany, Norway and the leading Russian universities - members of the consortium of the University of the Arctic – took part in the Natural Hazards workshop which ended in Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NarFU), Arkhangelsk, on the 22 of March 2014. The workshop was the first major activity of the newly formed Natural Hazards Thematic Network of UArctic. The goal of the workshop was to begin development of an online course for UArctic in natural hazards. Construction of the course itself is expected to take about a year. The workshop organized in Arkhangelsk by University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and NarFU is unique. Its particular features are: (1) leading roles in design and implementation of the course is given to students; (2) multi-national and multi-disciplinary knowledge and perspectives on most common natural hazards, as well as their social and policy implications, are included into the course; and (3) an emphasis is put on problems that are unique to or exacerbated by Arctic conditions. The latter includes presence of ice, limited transportation infrastructure, great length of supply lines, and the time pressure for response that extreme cold imposes. The main outcome of the event was development of the concept of the on-line course “Natural Hazards”. In March 2014, the participants discussed the preliminary results. Students made presentations on thematic modules of the course: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Forest Fires, Floods, and Distance Education in the Northern Regions of Russia