Convergence NNA: Adaptive Capacity and Resilience in the New Arctic: Identifying Pathways to Equitable, Desirable Outcomes for People and Nature Through Convergence


The goal of the workshops is to convene expert participants with relevant, disparate expertise to converge around six thematic goals to understand how transformations in the New Arctic can be managed to reduce inequitable and undesirable outcomes for people and nature. The workshops will commence with listening sessions led by Indigenous and other Arctic stakeholders. The first and third workshops will take place in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the second workshop, emphasizing mid-latitude-Arctic convergence and funded by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln will take place in Lincoln, NE.

Current Status

Global forces are driving profound changes in the Arctic, creating unexpected consequences for people and nature. Understanding these rapid changes requires a new science: a convergence of expertise from multiple disciplines and perspectives using a complex systems approach to identify, organize and simplify diverse system components and their interactions. In the Arctic, there is an urgent need to better predict and manage these transformations to reduce inequitable and undesirable outcomes for people and nature, which is the overarching objective we propose to address with a series of three workshops. A complex systems framework is appropriate for assessing systems with seemingly intractable levels of complication, as it allows insight into general system dynamics while transcending the particular details and incorporates expertise and knowledge from disparate disciplines and sources. This approach is not feasible without an in-depth appraisal of diverse system components and a convergence of data and knowledge from disparate fields, requiring expert knowledge from many areas and disciplines. In particular, Indigenous traditional knowledge is often left out or isolated in the Arctic narrative, at the peril of critical system understanding and achieving pathways towards equitable and desirable outcomes in the New Arctic.

The Arctic is in transition, and although the Arctic itself will bear the brunt of change, those changes will have global implications, including to North American mid-latitudes. The workshops are structured to encourage the exploration of novel convergent approaches to understanding, and ultimately coping with, rapid Arctic change. This approach has the potential to navigate the New Arctic towards equitable and desirable social and ecological outcomes by positioning the participants for high impact research and policy tools, publications, and proposal submissions. The workshops will serve as a sounding board and testbed for new research approaches, scenarios of change, and pathways for purposeful transformations to resilient and desirable states. Resilience theory is still new; in particular, approaches to implementing resilience theory and how to foster large-scale transformations of social-ecological systems from undesirable to desirable states are not well-understood and are newly developing but provide an exciting framework for fostering positive change in the Arctic and elsewhere.

Principal Investigator(s)
-Craig R. Allen, NECFWRU
-Hannah E. Birge, NECFWRU
-Martha D. Shulski, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Project Duration
Fall 2017—December 2018

-National Science Foundation
-University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Project Location
Lincoln, Nebraska: Fairbanks, Alaska