Professor Stephanie Kane's new class INTL-I 302 Artic Encounters: Animals, People and Ships explores the changing Arctic and the myriad intersecting and competing interests that focus on the area. An interview with Dr. Kane is below. She talks about her class a well as her related work with the Ice Law Project.
Arctic Encounters is a new class. Why did you create it?
Kane: The upcoming Themester on Animals/Humans inspired me to create a course that explores this theme in the Arctic, where life may be changing faster than anywhere else on the planet and geopolitics is complicated by 8 nations and overlapping indigenous territories.
What is the Ice Law Project and how are you involved?
Kane: The Ice Law Project is an interdisciplinary network of researchers and practitioners started by Phil Steinberg, a geographer of oceans, to tackle the central problem of international maritime law that defines the borders of sovereign territories without considering ice. I’m co-leader of the subproject on Mobilities and Migration.
Given that Arctic peoples live and travel on ice as people in lower latitudes live on land, and that ice is rapidly melting, allowing the entrance of global shipping, mining, and other forms of industrialization into this heretofore frozen place, the project hopes to find ways to make international law ice-smart so as to better protect Artic peoples, animals and the environment.
What kinds of students might be interested in this course?
Kane: The changing arctic circle affects everyone on this planet, so it should be of interest to anyone, but the class crosses several very specific interests: geography, indigenous rights and culture, science and innovation, climate change and the environment, business and entrepreneurship, maritime law and traditions to name a few. Ideally, the class will have individual students coming at the issue from very different perspectives. Students will have the opportunity to pursue individual interests in designing and presenting a visual image project.
Themester courses often utilize special activities and campus resources. What special opportunities does your course offer?
Kane: The course will include a visiting the Lilly Library for the Artic materials in its rare book collection, watching a screening of Angry Inuk at IU Cinema, viewing Arctic cartography in the Map Room of Wells Library, and exploring the Art and artifact collections at Mather’s Museum of World Cultures.
What are some of the most important knowledge or skills you hope students gain from the class?
Kane: I hope students taking this class have a better understanding of the potential and limits of sustainable approaches to human/animal relations in the context of climate change and the importance of the Artic for the planet as a whole. Students will also get practice in using interdisciplinary theory and ethnographic methods.