Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


ELOKA2015 GroupPicThe ELOKA Workshop Sharing Knowledge: Traditions, Technologies and Taking Control of Our Future took place from September 22-24th 2015 in sunny Boulder, Colorado (USA). ELOKA is an US National Science Foundation funded project initiated during the IPY (2007/08), based at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. This project has hosted a variety of workshops across North America since its inception, as it is in its Phase III and currently aiming for renewal (Phase IV) to continue to implement its objectives;

In Boulder, the Sharing Knowledge workshop organizers aimed to bring together project members and partners to discuss the status and progress of ELOKA initiatives, particularly to discuss challenges related to Indigenous Knowledge and Data Management. APECS was invited to participate at this ELOKA workshop and I was able to attend the meeting as a representative. My first impressions of the three day workshop were positive through and through, as attendees were highly diverse in their personal and professional backgrounds. The ~30 attendees (see group foto) of the workshop travelled to Boulder from as far as Finland, Nunavut (Canada), and as near as from local Native American tribal lands.

ELOKA NeverAlone 2015The workshop started with a Welcome Ceremony and prayer by Jerry Fillspipe of the Oglala Lakota tribe. The following three workshop days featured several short panel presentations, media demos, and workshop activities that facilitated cross-cultural exchange and conversation. Thanks to the small group of participants and the open format of the sessions, much discussion was possible on all topics presented. Focal points of the discussions were the use of various information and communications technologies (ICTs) and social media to document, preserve, share, and exchange Indigenous Knowledge (IK) in their communities and beyond. The first day crystalized challenges related to web-based data and how to make these accessible to a diversity of users (e.g., Elders, youth, public and/or scientists). The second day highlighted the pros and cons of new multimedia applications, such as short films, video games, and social media; the presentation of the video game ‘Never Alone’ (see demo scene below), which is design around Iñupiat culture, was a personal workshop highlight for me – who gets to play video games as part of an Arctic workshop? The diverse scales of issues were at the centre of the third day of the workshop – with presentations on exemplary local research projects on Indigenous Knowledge, to national programs and initiatives, to international efforts and challenges in data management. Of particular interest to APECS was a presentation by the Youth Arctic Coalition (YAC), as this coalition brings together the perspectives of Arctic Youth on issues relevant to the Arctic. I felt that APECS and YAC could work well together, as joint initiatives would include and reach both southern and northern youth’s perspectives. Near the end of the meeting, I was able to give a brief presentation on behalf of APECS membership (of ~5100) on related APECS working groups and activities and highlight recent publications by APECS Canada members (Tondu et al. 2014). At the end of the workshop, a summary document was created during a brain storming and reflection session highlighting the main topics and themes that were discussed during the workshop and can build a basis for future discussions. The workshop ended with Closing Ceremony and prayer by Jerry Fillspipe.

Looking ahead, the Second Polar Data Forum (PDF II, 27-29 October 2015) will be held in Waterloo, Ontario (Canada) and provides the next opportunity to present ideas from this workshop and ELOKA initiatives to an international audience. Moreover, there might be exciting opportunities for APECS members to further partner with ELOKA activities. The University of Colorado at Boulder was an excellent location for this workshop, and welcomed the international delegates who all seemed to be enjoying themselves in the vibrant college town (see below)!

ELOKA Boulder 2015 NGantner


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