Share this

UNI program expands research on issues facing the Arctic

June 1, 2011

Andrey Petrov, assistant professor, UNI Department of Geography, 319-273-6245,

Stacey Christensen, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- For years, faculty at the University of Northern Iowa have researched issues facing the Arctic. Additional funding will allow students and faculty to take that research to the next level. The newly established Arctic Social and Environmental Systems Research Lab (ARCSES), housed in the UNI geography department, will focus its efforts on issues the Arctic faces in regard to climate, culture, economics and politics. 

The ARCSES is directed by Andrey Petrov, assistant professor of geography at UNI. Petrov is a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, and has an extensive background in Arctic studies. Petrov says ARCSES is currently involved in several research projects concerning social, economic and environmental changes in the Arctic. The projects include the study of Arctic social indicators, Arctic wildfires, and reindeer migration and their connection to climate change.

Additionally, Petrov says the ARCSES is working on a project, entitled "Creative Arctic," that aims to find and measure creative human capital in the Arctic communities and estimate its impact on economic growth. Creative capital refers to people with high levels of education and/or people who are engaged in creative (scientific, artistic, entrepreneurial or technological) types of activities in this region.

"One of the main goals of this project is to assist Arctic communities in their ability to benefit from globalization while still preserving traditional cultures and activities," said Petrov. "Right now, countries such as Russia, the United States and Canada are using the Arctic's natural resources to export elsewhere, but local economies are often left severely underdeveloped. The 'Creative Arctic' project works with northern communities to help them keep and utilize their local creative capital in order to develop the area economically. It is also interesting that Arctic communities share some profound similarities with rural places in the Midwest, so this project may be helpful to folks who try to foster creative capital here in Iowa or neighboring states."

The ARCSES is funded through the National Science Foundation, the NASA Iowa Space Grant and the UNI College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Additional funding comes from PROGRUS, a privately funded program designed to foster collaboration in geographic research and education between Russia and the United States.

For more information, visit