Editor’s Note: Vermont By Degrees is a series of articles written by representatives from colleges and universities across the state on the challenges facing higher education today.

If there is a question of the relevance of higher education, the way forward for a college or university is to do what it does best. In Norwich’s case, it’s about educating students in a mission-oriented, service-to-others-based curriculum that teaches students practical skills like nursing, engineering, cybersecurity, more of a solid foundation of liberal arts education, teaching students not only how to act but also how to think.

Last week here at the University of Norwich, we hosted our annual Military Writers Symposium, welcoming experts from across the country on the topic of evolving national security issues associated with the Arctic.

This program is the epitome of Norwich programming: it offers direct access to those working on society’s most difficult issues, and we provide this free access to the general public, sharing that knowledge within our community.

The Arctic is essential for regional stability. All Arctic states agree that peaceful cooperation is ideal; however, the possibility of future conflict is also a reality. The Arctic now occupies a central place in Chinese and Russian foreign policy. Russia is strengthening its presence in the Arctic and, subsequently, other Arctic countries respond by increasing their Arctic footprint and capabilities. Cooperation or conflict centers on competition for strategic resources, maritime control and geopolitical uncertainty. The 2021 Military Writers Symposium explored various dimensions of the Arctic with the aim of leading to regional cooperation and security.

To help us understand this complex subject, we welcomed Sam Alexander, a native of Alaska and a board member of the Gwich’in Council International. He grew up in Fort Yukon, Alaska, where his father was the traditional chief of the Gwichyaa Gwich’in tribe of northern Alaska. He spent much of his childhood exploring the Yukon plains and the northeastern chain of streams, living the traditional Gwich’in way of life. Alexander graduated from the United States Military Academy and spent 10 years as an officer in the United States Army, before becoming a major in the Army Special Forces (Green Berets). After leaving the military, Alexander graduated from the Tuck School of Business in Dartmouth and co-founded Latitude Six-Six, of which he is also the CEO. He is an assistant professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in the Homeland Security and Emergency Management program. He brought a critical Indigenous perspective to the conversation.

We offered a science perspective, with a presentation by Lilian Alessa, Professor and Chief Scientist at the United States Special Operations Command Joint Special Operations University. Her federal service spans decades, most notably as a high-level Special Advisor on Defense Intelligence to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Deputy Head of Global Strategies at the Ministry of Homeland Security. She has nearly 30 years of experience in the Arctic in the joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational and commercial sectors in Canada and the United States on security, defense and resiliency of integrated systems.

There was the critical expert in maritime law, James Kraska, chairman and Charles H. Stockton professor of international maritime law at the Stockton Center for International Law at the US Naval War College and a visiting professor of law and John Harvey Gregory lecturer on the World Organization at Harvard Law School. He has been a visiting professor of international law at the College of Law of the University of the Philippines and the National Law University of Gujarat, Mary Derrickson McCurdy visiting scholar at the Duke University Marine Laboratory of the Nicholas School of the Environment and a member of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Kraska is editor-in-chief of International Law Studies, America’s oldest international law journal. A former commander of the United States Navy, he served in the task forces and in the Pentagon, notably as an adviser on ocean law and policy, then director of international negotiations within the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

And the presenters included an expert from the Canadian point of view: P. Whitney Lackenbauer is the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in the Study of the Canadian North and a professor at the Canada School of Studies. Trent University in Ontario, Canada. He is the Network Leader of the North American and Arctic Defense and Security Network and was Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group from 2014 to 2020. He (co-) wrote or (co-) edited over 50 pounds and over. over 100 academic articles and book chapters. His recent books include “Breaking Through? Understanding Sovereignty and Security in the Circumpolar Arctic ”(co-edited, 2021),“ Canada and the Maritime Arctic: Borders, Shelves and Waters ”(co-authored in 2020),“ Governance of Complexity in the arctic region ”(co-authored 2019) and“ Breaking the Ice Curtain? Russia, Canada and Arctic Security in a Changing Circumpolar World ”(co-edited 2019).

We are in our third decade of offering the University of Norwich Military Writers Symposium, the only program of its kind at an American university. We bring together writers and experts in military history, intelligence and current affairs to offer important perspectives on pressing global concerns.

Last year’s program explored the issue of water as a weapon, a critical topic that all leaders and engaged citizens understand. Water and war share a long history, and the implications today are both strategic and tactical. From the power struggle in the Arctic to the war for water in the Middle East, to conflicts in Africa over depleted water resources, the intersection of environment and security is an issue that will shape the 21st century. Norwich aims to be a thought leader in this area. The University of Norwich Environmental Security Initiative, a joint venture of the Peace & War Center and the Center for Global Resilience and Security, examines the link between environmental issues that intersect with security issues through research , internships, experimental learning opportunities and programming.

As a top military college, Norwich is dedicated to education that teaches students to build and defend the nation. The University of Norwich Military Writers’ Symposium will always offer unvarnished perspectives on the world’s most difficult subjects. Please keep an eye on next year’s schedule.

Daphne Larkin is Director of Media Relations and Community Affairs at the University of Norwich.

Vermont By Degrees is a series of weekly columns written by representatives from colleges and universities across the state on the challenges facing higher education today.

Vermont By Degrees is a series of weekly columns written by representatives from colleges and universities across the state on the challenges facing higher education today.


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