Face of the Month: Research in Arctic governance in an atmosphere of trust

24.5.2018 12:19

Adam Stepien is following Arctic policy on the front line. Besides working on his dissertation, he has published reports and organized seminars to support Finland during the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council and the EU in the Arctic policy.

It would be hard to imagine better timing. Adam Stepien from Poland got a traineeship in the Arctic Centre at the best possible moment in 2008. Two major projects had just begun and there was an urgent need for more researchers.

– I was very lucky. Immediately, I was able to join a research group that worked on questions concerning the European Union and Arctic maritime governance.

He chose Rovaniemi as the place for his traineeship for two reasons: the Arctic regions and their unique features fascinated the young researcher, and he was already familiar with the environment. The first contact with the culture and way of life in Lapland took place already in 2005 when Adam came to Rovaniemi as an exchange student. The Arctic Circle attracted him back like a magnet.

– I love skiing and the nature in Lapland. The biggest difference between Finland and Poland is that people here seem to trust each other. I am not implying that the Polish would be less trustworthy, but people just do not have that trust towards the others. It is because of history.

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Photo: Piotr Graczyk

Even though maritime policy was not really Adam’s field, the period as trainee gave him a strong foundation. At the same time, it opened new doors for the future. Lapland was such an attractive, interesting and safe environment, and as an area for research, it was unique. Therefore, when the time for writing his dissertation came, Adam had already his luggage packed. In 2010, he came back to the Arctic Centre to work on his dissertation, and he has stayed.

– At present, I am trying to work on my dissertation alongside other research. However, since 2013 I have mainly worked coordinating projects and on research relating to those projects, so I am a bit behind with my dissertation. I have permission to take a leave to finalize the dissertation, but I guess I am also needed here.

The topic of the dissertation initially revolved around development cooperation issues, but the subject changed on the fly five years later. The main reason for the change was the change in Adam’s own interests. The research projects at the Arctic Centre further boosted his interest in the Arctic policies, governance and cooperation in the European Union. His research interests also include minority groups, and the Sámi policy is of particular interest.

– My master’s thesis also addressed minority groups and related policies. With research, the Arctic regions and the Sámi rose to the top of my research interests.

Adam Stepien believes he can complete the dissertation this year. Work as a researcher at the Arctic Governance Research Group keeps him busy though.

- I cannot say that I am a real expert in any field, but I believe I am one of the few who can contribute to research in so many different areas. I enjoy working in an international team at the Arctic Centre that provides a nice atmosphere and a great framework for such research.

Adam Stepien

  • Researcher at the Arctic Governance Research Group of the Arctic Centre
  • Master of Political Science
  • Research objects/targets: the Arctic policy of the European Union, Arctic governance, cross-sectoral policy-making, indigenous governance in the North, innovation in peripheral and Arctic regions
  • More information:


Text and photo: Maria Paldanius