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The Education plenary session at the UArctic Congress discusses Arctic Education Research and Children's Rights


The Education plenary session was held Thursday 6th at the University of Oulu. It consisted of the opening speech and the main keynote. The chair of the plenary was Michael Castellini, UArctic Vice-President Academic, from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. University lecturer Suvi Lakkala from the University of Lapland was the commentator of the plenary.

Professor Diana Hirshberg from University of Alaska Anchorage gave the introductory speech about the topic “Reframing Arctic Education Research”. She pointed out, how education research is a lot more than just developing curriculums for schools. The people living in the North face rapid social, ecological, environmental and economic changes. The role of education in these processes is not well explored, even though education is the key element when building resilience and adaption of those, who live in the Arctic and face said changes. Hirshberg suggested that the Arctic education research should be reframed as the way to address how to build the capacity of individuals and communities to respond to the diverse issues and challenges faced in the Arctic.


Michael Castellini, Suvi Lakkala, Sue Dockett and Diana Hirshberg

Emerita Professor Sue Dockett from the Charles Sturt University, Australia gave the main keynote. In her keynote she explored the topic “Listening to young children: Rights and respect”. Children have the right to be consulted about the issues that concern them, for example, educational decisions, but not every child has that opportunity. In her keynote, Dockett considered children’s right to be heard, based on the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. Her keynote included examples that children themselves have shared about community and starting school. Dockett’s keynote reflected on children’s experiences, perspectives and expectations while searching ways to add to the broad social discussions. Children share their views in various ways. Listening and responding to those in respectful ways is important for parents and their actions in these situations bear social justice implications.


From the University of Oulu Botanical Garden

The education plenary was informative and created valuable debates. Overall, The UArctic congress had invested in informal sosializing and getting to know each other. The Botanical Gardens of the University of Oulu, among other places, served as a meeting place.


Text: Noora-Maaria Kinnunen

Photos: Suvi Lakkala, Outi Kyrö-Ämmälä