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The Wilson Center Breaks Ice on Revitalized Polar Initiative

October 21, 2016

Leading Arctic Expert Tapped to Head Up New Department

WASHINGTON —  The Woodrow Wilson Center announced today that Dr. Michael Sfraga will be the new director of the center’s revitalized Polar Initiative.

“Dr. Sfraga  is a serious, highly-regarded Arctic specialist,” said Wilson Center Director, President, and CEO Jane Harman. “He has made his mark at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks as a senior leader, Co-Lead Scholar of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative, and has participated in numerous Arctic policy teams at the state, national, and international level.”

The Wilson Center is the only think tank in Washington to house a broad-based initiative on the Arctic, a region experiencing massive shifts in climate, security, development, and trade, driving a measurable increase in its geopolitical significance.

“The Arctic has become more important socially, politically, economically, and environmentally than ever before,” Dr. Sfraga said.  "The United States government should continue to collaborate with indigenous communities, the academic and research community, interested and active nations, private industry, the State of Alaska, and other stakeholders to build upon existing expertise and leverage economic, scientific, and policy issues. The Polar Initiative will focus on the important practical questions and issues facing the United States and the citizens of the North.”

Partnering with the Wilson Center’s longstanding work on Russia and Canada, the Polar Initiative Action Plan will convene and foster discussion, research, and programmatic activity on Arctic and Antarctic issues with the purpose of raising awareness among national and international policymakers about polar-related issues.

Dr. Sfraga is presently Vice Chancellor for University and Student Advancement at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and has served in several other senior positions at the University.  He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, as well as a Masters’ degree from Bowling Green State University, and his doctorate in Northern Studies and Geography from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He also is author of the well-received Bradford Washburn: A Life of Exploration, as well as numerous scholarly and polar articles. He also serves as Co-Director of the University of the Arctic’s Institute for Arctic Policy and Chairman of the Institute of the North.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world.

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Polar Institute

Since its inception in 2017, the Polar Institute has become a premier forum for discussion and policy analysis of Arctic and Antarctic issues, and is known in Washington, DC and elsewhere as the Arctic Public Square. The Institute holistically studies the central policy issues facing these regions—with an emphasis on Arctic governance, climate change, economic development, scientific research, security, and Indigenous communities—and communicates trusted analysis to policymakers and other stakeholders.  Read more