"It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities," said Poelzer, one of three Canadians selected for the United States government-sponsored project. "The chance to work at a high level with some of the leading researchers and scholars in Arctic issues from eight circumpolar states is just phenomenal."
Poelzer said he is excited and humbled by the responsibility that comes with the work ahead of him.
"It won't be just ivory tower research up on a shelf," said Poelzer. "This is designed to have policy impact."
By fall of 2016, the researchers will produce policy recommendations and begin implementing projects related to four areas critical to the Arctic's future: energy, water, health and infrastructure. This work will guide the actions of the member states—Canada, the United States, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden—from 2015-17 while the U.S. chairs the council.
Poelzer's research will focus on capacity-building for northern energy and mineral resource development through means such as improving access to education and creating more efficient governance. His work will also contribute to a collaborative research project to be determined at the scholars' first meeting next month in Iqaluit, Nunavut.
As part of the prestigious Fulbright Arctic Initiative program, Poelzer will receive US$40,000 in funding and will participate in a residency at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he hopes to further his research and build academic connections between Alaska and Saskatchewan.
Poelzer's postings at the U of S include executive chair of the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development and associate professor in the Department of Political Studies and the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. He is a recognized expert on northern policy and governance, was the inaugural dean of undergraduate studies at the University of the Arctic and co-wrote the book Arctic Front: Defending Canada in the Far North, which received the 2008 Donner Prize for the best public policy book by a Canadian.