KNO1: Arctic biodiversity education and outreach

Date: Tuesday October 9, 2018

Location: Saivo, Lappia Hall

Time: 17:00-18:30

The Arctic Biodiversity Assessment has called for the development of communication and outreach tools and methodologies to better convey the importance and value of Arctic biodiversity and the changes it is undergoing. This interactive session explores case studies on Arctic biodiversity communication, including presentations on interactive exhibitions, youth programs, narrative forms, fiction and poetry, musical performance, and artistic collections.

Chair: Shailyn Drukis, Canadian Committee for IUCN

Format: Series of presentations followed by question/answer


  • Interactive Exhibition as Tool for Learning Climate Change Impact on Arctic Biodiversity in Finnish Lapland: Stéphanie C. Lefrère, The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) pdf
  • Northern Connections: Involving Northern Youth in Biodiversity and Climate Change Initiatives: Shailyn Drukis, Canadian Committee for IUCN pdf
  • From galleries to gruits, blogs to botanical gardens: the many facets of public engagement on Arctic biodiversity research at the Canadian Museum of Nature: Paul Sokoloff, Canadian Museum of Nature pdf
  • Learning and teaching on biodiversity with narrative forms and fiction: Marcel Robischon, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin pdf
  • Dialogus Arctica – an alternative way to communicate arctic values at risk: Frode Aarvik, Steinkaret Scene 



Interactive Exhibition as Tool for Learning Climate Change Impact on Arctic Biodiversity in Finnish Lapland

Stéphanie C. Lefrère, The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)

We present to the public the multilingual and interactive traveling exhibition «Climate Change in Lapland’s Nature - What can we do?» which summarizes the impact of climate change on the Arctic biodiversity of Finnish Lapland and identifies solutions that people can take on a daily basis to reduce their carbon footprint and to help mitigate climate change. This exhibition has been used successfully since 2013 as a climate change educational tool in several countries. Studies by the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, along with various Finnish research institutes and universities, show that the distribution of plants and animals in Finland has started to change in relation to climate warming. Southern species are spreading gradually northwards while local species are declining. In the exhibition, scientific results related to the impact of climate change on animal and plant species characteristic of the Arctic are displayed in panels with the help of figures and graphs, along with photos, movies, slideshows and pedagogical quizzes. The exhibition author will introduce the latest findings on the impact of climate change on the animals and plants presented in the exhibition, such as reindeer, lemming, butterflies, birds, mosses, and plants of the fells and forest, as well as the mitigation solutions to climate change, examples of which will be enlivened with photos and figures. The author has given lectures and workshops to schools and general audiences. School pupils have responded very positively to the exhibition and to related lectures by writing essays and participating actively in workshops. Some of their essays will be presented now to the public in addition to an assortment of the artworks done during workshops by children from different school grades and countries. This exhibition conveys the value and importance of Arctic biodiversity and raises public awareness of how individual efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can contribute to protecting biodiversity and mitigating climate change.


Northern Connections: Involving Northern Youth in Biodiversity and Climate Change Initiatives

Shailyn Drukis, Canadian Committee for IUCN

With growing recognition that young Northerners bring valuable ideas, enthusiasm, and first-hand lived experiences with biodiversity and climate change, there have been increasing opportunities for them to be involved with the projects and processes of various organizations and institutions. For this session, youth from different parts of Canada will highlight some of the successful initiatives of northern youth engagement (from local to national scale), and they will facilitate an open discussion in which participants can highlight the work that they are involved with and share opportunities that they are aware of for engaging young Northerners in these projects and programs. Having these types of dialogues will allow for increased Northern connections to be built for youth involvement and collaboration. This session contributes to a couple of the conference goals, in part by identifying that Northern youth have valuable local and Indigenous knowledge of the changing Arctic that could also help to support many of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment recommendations. It particularly addresses recommendations 14 and 17. ‘Other’ was selected as the format of the presentation, because it will include a more formal oral presentation, but also an activity to create a visual understanding of the connections that can be made.


From galleries to gruits, blogs to botanical gardens: the many facets of public engagement on Arctic biodiversity research at the Canadian Museum of Nature

Sokoloff, Paul C. (1) , J.M. Saarela (1), L.J. Gillespie (1), R.T. McMullin (1), R.D. Bull (1), J. Doubt (1), J. Steele (2), C. Iburg (1), E. McCrea (3), L. McIvor (1), C. Lanthier (1), K. Day
(1) Centre for Arctic Knowledge and Exploration, and National Herbarium of Canada, Botany Section, Research and Collections, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa ON, Canada
(2) Canadian Institute for Health Research, Ottawa, ON, Canada
(3) Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada

The Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Ontario, is Canada’s national natural history museum, housing over 14 million natural history specimens and seven permanent galleries, all of which serve to further our mandate: “to increase throughout Canada and internationally, interest in, knowledge of, and appreciation and respect for the natural world”. Arctic programs have been an important component of the museum’s identity since its founding, and thanks to decades of field-based research the museum holds over 300K Arctic natural history collections. The Arctic ecozone occupies a considerable part of Canada’s landmass (approximately 40% of Canada is above the treeline), but the costs involved in traveling to the North mean that most Canadians will never travel there. In the face of increasing commercial and industrial activities in the North, and mounting pressures on northern ecosystems due to climate change, the Canadian Museum of Nature is actively working to increase knowledge of, and appreciation for, the Canadian Arctic in Canadians, through compelling storytelling about our Arctic research and collections, and by providing a venue in the museum, in the heart of Canada’s capital, for northerners to tell their own stories. This talk will cover the different ways the museum’s botany team has been engaging with Canadians about Arctic plant and lichen biodiversity. Our team shares the work we’re doing in the Arctic through museum exhibits (e.g., the permanent Canada Goose Arctic Gallery, the Arctic Voices traveling exhibit), diverse online and media, and interactive events (Science by Night festival and Collections Open House). Through an ongoing partnership with the Students on Ice Foundation, we offer experiential education to adults and youth on ship-based Arctic expeditions. Through creative partnerships with local breweries and entertainment organizations, we have been able to sneak Arctic biodiversity science communication into custom-crafted beers, such as the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada’s Glacial Gruit, and diverse adult-oriented programs.


Learning and teaching on biodiversity with narrative forms and fiction

Marcel Robischon, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

The promotion of education and the development of "communication and outreach tools and methodologies to better convey the importance and value of Arctic biodiversity" have been identified as integral elements in conservation and management in the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment policy recommendations. Educators who aim to reach a broad audience require means that go beyond the pure science and speak to both the cognitive and emotional domains. Narrative forms such as fiction, when inspired by the natural world, offer a valuable tool to both engage and inform, and to build a bridge into more science-based forms of learning. Taking into account that misconceptions may arise from fictional content, such texts can serve as models of transdisciplinary learning. Fiction can also bring past events to life that are important for understanding present situations. This is exemplified in several novels that deal with the extinction history of Arctic or boreal species such as the great auk or the Eskimo curlew. In this presentation, examples of fictional and non-fictional narratives are discussed and analyzed for their biological content and their suitability to promote the acquisition of biological content knowledge. Recommendations for the use of narrative forms in creating learning activities are developed.


Dialogus Arctica – an alternative way to communicate Arctic values at risk

Frode Aarvik, Steinkaret Scene; J. P. Inderberg; M. Ekker, Norwegain Environment Agency

Arctic biodiversity is in danger from anthropogenic pressures. This project is an alternative approach for communication, awareness raising and conservation of Arctic species and their habitats. By focusing on a selection of iconic Arctic species in paintings, contemporary music, and multimedia, "Dialogus Arctica" aims to introduce its audience to a conceptual experience and to inspire people's holistic perception, reflection, and understanding of the environmental values in play. "Dialogus Arctica" is an interdisciplinary performance experiment over two years, in which cross-artistic communication is being developed step by step. By exploring a variety of platforms (events), Frode Aarvik (the painter) and John Pål Inderberg (the musician/saxophonist) – in collaboration with a network of contacts from science to Indigenous people, seeks to communicate the messages of values at risk in a changing Arctic environment – an Arctic dialogue. The ABC in Rovaniemi 2018 represents an excellent venue (platform) for the project that will add artistic value to the scientific program and focus.

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