University of Lapland




The Arctic Centre is Finland’s national institute for Arctic international expertise that is located in the Arctic. The Arctic Centre is based at the University of Lapland and it plays a key role in the University’s excellence on Arctic and Northern research. The Arctic Centre is committed to research in order to better understand the natural, physical and social environments in the Arctic. Such research and education spans several disciplines and its products take many forms, from scientific papers and monographs, teaching in the classroom, field courses and supervising PhD students, to books, exhibitions, audiovisual material, artworks and films.

The Arctic Centre is a place where researchers, doctoral students, planners, artists and architects collaborate within and outside the University. The community of researchers within the Centre derives from diverse scientific, national, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The Centre has strong local and regional orientation and provides an international research environment that fosters a multidisciplinary approach.



Vision 2020:

The Arctic Centre envisions becoming Finland’s leading centre of excellence for the Arctic. The Arctic Centre will become a leading European expert on sustainable development, global change, and minority and environmental law. The Arctic Centre will establish itself as the main research institute for social and environmental impact assessment in Lapland and the Barents Region, producing information that is highly relevant for local and national authorities, politicians and the public. The Arctic Centre will increase its visibility as the key producer of Arctic and Antarctic information that is accessible in different formats for all.

Mission 2020:

The Arctic Centre’s mission is to undertake locally and regionally oriented and globally relevant research, PhD student supervision, undergraduate education and science communication about the Arctic and the Antarctic. The Arctic Centre is in constant dialogue with Arctic indigenous peoples, local residents and regional stakeholders. The Arctic Centre engages in international and multidisciplinary scientific research whilst also maintaining high quality standards within single disciplines. The Arctic Centre synthesizes scientific information in an understandable format for the public, pupils, authorities and policy makers within and outside the Arctic.

Goal 2020:

The Arctic Centre’s goal is to address pressing social and environmental issues that are of broad concern to both Arctic and non-Arctic peoples, institutions and communities. The Arctic Centre aims to increase knowledge and awareness based on sound scientific information and in this way to support sustainable development, environmental protection and social, cultural and biological diversity in the Arctic and the North.


Arctic Centre activities


Acute environmental changes and vast natural resources have rapidly made the polar regions a focus of global scientific interest. This presents the Arctic Centre with significant challenges and opportunities that will be met through participation in various networks.

The Arctic Centre studies the natural and social environment in the Arctic and seeks answers to such questions as:

  • How do Arctic physical, ecological, social, cultural, political, legal and other systems function?
  • What are the current and future developmental trends?
  • How do these processes and trends relate to the Antarctic and other corresponding regions?
  • What are the direct and cumulative impacts of the ongoing changes in the Arctic?
  • What makes the Arctic physical environment, ecosystems, peoples and communities resilient or vulnerable to changes?
  • How can Arctic ecosystems, peoples, communities and institutions cope with changes?
  • What capacities and means do these communities and institutions have to adapt to or mitigate the consequences of these changes and how can they be enhanced?
  • What are the determinants of continuity in Arctic socio-cultural-economic systems, and under which conditions can they accommodate outside pressures to their physical and social environment without surrendering their distinct characteristics?
  • What is the role of research, education and outreach in tackling these challenges?
  • How can local and traditional knowledge be combined with modern scientific and political contexts?


The Arctic Centre aims to become a top quality international science institute that attracts scholars from around the world. The Centre will seek official status as a centre of excellence within its established and widely networked fields of research expertise.

The Arctic Centre carries out multidisciplinary research. This concept allows the Arctic Centre freedom of creativity that fosters new and experimental forms of research co-operation. Multidisciplinary research contributes to the development of each specific field of research to which the individual researchers belong. The Arctic Centre conducts multidisciplinary research without compromising high quality specialization. The research by the Arctic Centre is highly relevant for authorities and political decision-making.

The Arctic Centre aims to become a regional centre for sustainable development in Lapland and the Barents region. Due to its geographical location in Rovaniemi, the "Capital of Finnish Lapland" on the Arctic Circle, the Arctic Centre has always been innovative by keeping up to date with and analyzing international research policy in parallel with local and regional needs and taking them into account in its research plans. The Arctic Centre has a long tradition of co-operation in Arctic Russia. These assets will be strengthened further.

The research by the Arctic Centre plays a key role in implementing the Strategy 2020 for the University of Lapland, which has faculties of art and design, law, social sciences, education and tourism and business as well as tourism research and education institute. The strategic profile of the University of Lapland is research on Arctic and northern societies as well as on the environment.

The research by the Arctic Centre is implemented by three thematic research groups. Each research group is led by a research professor, and the groups include research professors, senior researchers, researchers and PhD students. They co-operate flexibly and they are closely interlinked in that the research is implemented through multidisciplinary research and problem-oriented projects.

The Global Change group encompasses the biological and physical sciences, with emphasis on applied socio-ecological and geographical studies. It addresses the impacts of land use, the use of renewable and non-renewable natural resources, tourism, long and short-term climate change, and UV radiation. Special emphasis is placed on the cumulative impacts of resource and industrial development and related infrastructure. The group has special expertise on the multidisciplinary impacts of energy industry development in the Arctic. It includes an international glaciology group specialized in climate change and modelling the impacts of climate change on Arctic and Antarctic ice masses, extreme events and global sea level.

The Sustainable Development Group draws on perspectives from the social sciences in order to address international environmental politics, economics, community adaptation and vulnerability, indigenous and local knowledge and identities, and social impact assessments. The group coordinates research on indigenous issues through the Centre’s Arctic Indigenous Peoples and Sámi research office, and it is also strongly involved in research on the non-indigenous majority of the human population in the Arctic.

Environmental and Minority Law focuses on legal issues, such as international environmental treaties on Arctic conditions, regulations and the implementation of environmental, social and strategic impact assessments, the environmental rights of Arctic indigenous peoples and indigenous peoples’ participation in environmental management. The Arctic Centre has a specialized unit on legal expertise, the Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law.


In co-operation with University of Lapland, the Arctic Centre provides an undergraduate multidisciplinary Arctic Studies Program (ASP) that also includes Arctic Governance and Arctic Indigenous Studies programmes. The ASP has been strengthened with co-operative networks and curriculum development through the University of the Arctic and it is being constantly updated from the current research being conducted by the Centre. The ASP attracts students from around the world, many of whom may become PhD students on Arctic Centre projects. The work of graduate students is important to the research of the Arctic Centre.


The Arctic Centre prioritizes providing, popularizing and visualizing scientific results for use by decision makers and communicating actively with the Arctic Council, the Barents Council, ministries, and regional and local stakeholders.

The Arctic Centre disseminates information to the public through its excellent Science Centre Exhibition, Science Communications (whose activity is based on the internet), the Arctic Library (which is used both by scientists and the public at large), public lectures and school co-operation. The Arctic Centre provides national and international media with Arctic research results.

The outreach activities by the Arctic Centre concretely implement the principles of sustainable development that are acutely important in the rapidly changing Arctic region.


The Arctic Centre will continue research that supports environmental impact assessments, including social and strategic impact assessments especially in Lapland, Arctic Russia and within the Arctic Council. For these policy applications, the Arctic Centre will further develop its well-established practice of participatory research.

The Arctic Centre participates in and closely follows the work of the Arctic Council, Barents Euro-Arctic Council as well as Arctic and Northern Dimension Policies by the European Union, and takes their views into account when planning research. The Arctic Centre is also active in international Arctic organizations such as the International Arctic Science Committee, the International Arctic Social Sciences Association, the US Arctic Research Consortium, UNEP Grid Arendal and the European Polar Board.


The scope of the Arctic Centre’s research embraces the Circumpolar North, with specific emphasis on Fennoscandia and Arctic Russia. The Centre also carries out research in Antarctica, the Alps and other corresponding high latitudes and altitudes as well as in sparsely populated regions. Nordic and North American networks will be strengthened. Due to its close proximity to Russia, the Arctic Centre has developed a long tradition of co-operation in Arctic Russia.

The research community at the Arctic Centre comprises resident senior scholars, students and young professionals, and the community is enhanced by visiting senior researchers and students. Permanent key senior positions and staff are vital for the continuity and success of the Centre’s mission. Adequate office staff is required to fulfil this mission. To further meet its goals, the Arctic Centre is committed to collaboration that will sustain its international reputation. New avenues for career development are being sought through co-operation and common posts with other universities, research institutes and companies.


The Arctic Centre continuously develops its research and exhibitions in new scientific and geographical areas. At the same time, the Arctic Centre is aware of the heterogeneity of its activities and that the idea of the Centre needs to be clear. The multifunctional nature of the Arctic Centre is an asset that is used actively.

The Centre will continue to seek funding from Finnish, Nordic, and European funding sources. Other external sources will be explored.

The Arctic Centre is aware of its limits, and the stability of its core functions takes priority over rapid growth. The Arctic Centre co-operates with the faculties at the University of Lapland and supports them in their efforts to strengthen their multidisciplinary research. Internal competition within the Arctic Centre is minimal, which fosters a creative and exciting atmosphere. The working spirit will stay fresh when people have the opportunity to vary the focus of their work.


The Arctic Centre aims to publish its scientific results in high quality peer-reviewed journals. It is also successful in obtaining external funding in an atmosphere of increasingly strong national and international competition, which demonstrates the quality of its research programmes. In this context, the Centre is dedicated to the quality assurance process led by the University. The Centre periodically reassesses its research strategy.




General functional strategic objectives:

  • The products of the Arctic Centre are valuable for decision-making authorities and the public.
  • The Arctic Centre keeps up to date with the needs of companies so that it is prepared to draw attention to the relevance of Arctic research as part of the research conducted on behalf of the private sector. Joint projects with companies will be created.
  • Applied research will be increased and socio-economic expertise will be strengthened.
  • Research links between the Arctic Centre and the faculties at the University of Lapland will be strengthened through common projects, recruitment and PhD student supervision.
  • The Arctic Centre will promote the Northern Research Strategy by the Universities of Lapland and Oulu.
  • The Centre will prioritize high quality rather than rapid growth.
  • The Arctic Centre will organize regular external evaluations to monitor the quality of its work.

Strategic objectives related to research:

  • The Centre will encourage multi-scale research from local and regional levels to the national and on to the global level.
  • The Centre will link research results to global discussions and common theories.
  • The Arctic Centre will carry out research in the Arctic regions and Antarctica as well as in corresponding areas such as the Alps, which offer material for comparative studies with regions outside the polar regions.
  • The Centre will increase its connections with Russian and international companies operating in Arctic Russia in order to establish research co-operation. Among other international researchers, the Centre regularly welcomes Russian researchers to work as visiting researchers at the Arctic Centre.
  • The Arctic Centre publishes scientific articles in international and professional journals.
  • The Arctic Centre’s research is highly relevant for political decision-making and it will augment its ongoing applied research.

Global change research group:

  • The rapid increase in the use of natural resources for global needs and climate change are the drivers of ongoing and predicted changes in the Arctic. Arctic Centre researchers will continue to contribute to holistic assessments of the impacts on people (local as well as indigenous) and the environment in the regions of Arctic Russia, Lapland, the Barents region and North America.
  • The Centre will conduct cutting edge research on the major driving forces and mechanisms in polar climate regimes by utilizing paleo-proxy and historical instrumental records to better project future climate change on Earth.
  • The Centre will aim to understand the relationship between the most important forms of land use (exploitation of natural resources, tourism, forestry, herding and hunting) and regional biodiversity and ecology.
  • The Centre will investigate the implications of increased UV-B radiation on Northern ecosystems.

 Sustainable development research group:

  • Current development in the Arctic has raised the acute need for more research on the social, cultural and economic issues of the Arctic that remain poorly understood. The Arctic Centre will maintain strong expertise in the social sciences.
  • The Centre will increase its specialized research on economics, history, culture and art.
  • The Arctic Centre is aware that alongside indigenous people, the Arctic is populated by a majority of non-indigenous locals, incomers and their descendants due to large migration and relocation. The Arctic Centre will continue to study the social and cultural implications of relocation, the importance of the North for local and incoming people as well as the importance of local and incoming people for the North.
  • The Arctic Centre works with representatives of Arctic indigenous peoples, and it carries out research on traditional knowledge. The Arctic Centre will seek new co-operation links especially with the Sámi Regional Educational Centre in Inari, the Sámi University College in Kautokeino and the Giellagas Institute of the University of Oulu as well as the Sámi Council.
  • Because of its location, the Arctic Centre is strengthening its expertise on conceiving how inhabitants can be involved not just as end-users of the results of research projects but in their very formulation, design and implementation.

Environmental and minority law research group:

  • Economic globalization together with the consequences of climate change creates challenges for international treaties and legal systems on how to maintain the rights of Arctic indigenous peoples and retain sustainable development. The Arctic Centre will further develop its expertise on legal research and make it more internationally known.
  • Together with faculties at the University of Lapland, the Centre will improve its expertise on Sámi law and the Russian legal system as applied to its vast Arctic region.
    Strategic objectives related to education:
  • The Arctic Centre will expand and strengthen its co-operation and PhD student networks with all universities that conduct Arctic research within Finland.
  • The Arktis Graduate School will expand its co-operation with other Finnish and international universities. The School will maintain its links with its Nordic and Alaskan counterparts.
  • The Centre will further develop the Arctic Studies Program especially in co-operation with the Environmental Education programme by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Lapland, with the Sámi Education Institute in Inari and the Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences. Centre will actively promote the programme to students at the Universities of Oulu, Helsinki, Turku and Joensuu as well as promote it internationally.

Strategic objectives related to Arctic Centre Science Communications:

  • Research projects will make full use of the Arctic Centre’s information dissemination platform. Research projects will earmark a budget for information dissemination within their funding applications.
  • As there are several websites for Arctic experts, the Arctic Centre will pay more attention to website services for occupational groups, the authorities and popular web-based information dissemination to global fora. Co-operation with bodies such as UNEP Grid Arendal will be reinforced for these purposes.
  • The Centre will make web-based information more attractive and popular for use of schools and fora outside the Arctic.
  • The Arctic Centre organizes regular public seminars about its research, and it will continue this activity. The Centre organizes meetings, conferences and workshops, and it will continue to serve as a platform for dialogue with stakeholders, students and scientists.
  • The Arctic Centre will increase its popular printed and media material on scientific work.

Strategic objectives related to the Science Centre Exhibition:

  • The Science Centre will develop even closer co-operation with researchers’ projects in order to improve the integration of scientific results into popular exhibits and exhibitions.
  • The Science Centre will follow closely developments and innovation in the field of information technology that could serve the dissemination of science through exhibitions.
  • The Science Centre will aim to develop informal learning, special activities and services related to school activities and families.
  • The Science Centre will promote the use of exhibition facilities by local actors.
  • The Science Centre will increase its co-operation with the Faculties of Art and Design and Education, and the exhibition team will provide courses on exhibition planning and science communication and visualization. The Science Centre will also offer its facilities for student training and for University units that are interested in arranging exhibitions.
  • The Science Centre will prioritize international co-operation and projects within the existing European Network of Science Centres and Museums (Ecsite), especially projects targeted for at EU funding.
  • The Science Centre will develop new activities with the private sector, and it will actively seek to co-operate with potential sponsors.
  • The Arctic Centre will increase its production of films and AV materials based on scientific work.

Strategic objectives related to funding and other resources:

  • The Arctic Centre will retain its competitiveness and keep the amount of external funding high, but it will not aim to considerably increase external funding from current levels. In the 2000s, the Arctic Centre’s annual external funding has accounted for 30-50 per cent of its total budget. This is considerably higher than the 20 per cent average for external funding by the twenty major research institutes in Finland and the 18 per cent average for the nine small or medium size research institutes in Finland.
  • The Arctic Centre will preserve its good and creative atmosphere and supportive personnel policy as well as its high quality facilities that attract top professionals from around the world to come to work at the Centre.
  • The Arctic Centre currently has the minimum basic staff resources to enable it to function at a high standard. It is important to keep all positions filled in order to guarantee all the Centre’s functions. The Arctic Centre will continue to ensure that all positions are retained and filled.
  • The Arctic Centre will increase the stability of its staff whilst establishing a flexible routine for visiting scientists.
  • The Arctic Centre markets its facilities and seeks funding for international scholars to work as visiting researchers. Researchers at the Arctic Centre are also encouraged to make international visits.
  • At present, the Academy of Finland is the main source of research funding for the Arctic Centre. The Academy encourages researchers to seek research posts. More attention will be paid to Nordic and Global funds.
  • The Arctic Centre seeks sponsorship and donor funding for its research and outreach activities.
  • The Arctic Centre will maintain its international co-operation especially through externally funded research projects. The Arctic Centre seeks active participation in EU projects led by other institutions and it also submits its own proposals.
  • The Arctic Centre will actively seek funding for graduate students. Special attention will be given to opportunities for post-doctoral students to continue their professional careers.
  • The Arctic Centre will set up common research professorships and other posts with other universities and research institutes in Finland and in this way strengthen its position as a sound hub for national and international networks.
  • The Arctic Centre will also develop joint projects with administrative units in Lapland such as Metsähallitus and the Lapland Regional Environment Centre.
  • Students will be encouraged to create links with companies so that PhD supervision will improve their chances for employment within their chosen field.
  • The Arctic Centre will continue to encourage young and female researchers to participate in Arctic research policy meetings and discussions.
  • The Arctic Centre will safeguard the wellbeing of its staff within the excellent working facilities of the Arktikum by taking care of maintenance and renovations to the building. The Metsähallitus building next to the Arktikum will offer extensive co-operation possibilities for content work and the use of facilities.


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