A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF NORMAC UNIVERSITY

Norwich Model Arctic Council for University (NORMAC University) is a simulation of the real-world Arctic Council . Established in 1996, the Arctic Council is devoted to advancing international cooperation and good governance across the circumpolar Arctic. Around its table sit not only the Arctic States—Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA—but also Arctic indigenous peoples organisations representing the Aleut, Athabaskans, Gwitch’in, Inuit, Saami and the many peoples of the Russian North.

Held at the University of East Anglia in the vibrant and historical city of Norwich in the UK, NORMAC University is one of the few diplomatic simulations of its kind in the world, and the only one designed expressly for undergraduate students.  Before becoming an educator, NORMAC University Director Dr Anthony Speca lived and worked in the Arctic as a senior policy official with the Government of Nunavut, one of Canada’s Arctic territories. He launched NORMAC University to share his enthusiasm for the Arctic with students, and in the hope of inspiring them to learn more about this unique region and its peoples.

Whilst students with experience of Model United Nations may find some aspects of the conference familiar, NORMAC University offers an exciting new format of model diplomacy. The Arctic Council is unusual not only in promoting the active involvement of indigenous peoples alongside states, but also in making all decisions by consensus rather than majority vote. The Arctic Council is also well-known for collegiality and consensus-building even during times of tension between participants elsewhere in the world—valuable skills for a career after university.

PARTICIPATING IN NORMAC UNIVERSITY

Participation in NORMAC University is open to students from any university around the world, particularly undergraduates.  Participants are invited to form one or more delegations of two to four students each to play the role of representatives from one of the eight Arctic States or six Arctic indigenous peoples organisations.  At the conference, delegates will grapple with the challenge of reaching consensus on some of the most pressing challenges facing the Arctic, and by extension the world as a whole

It is not necessary for students to study at the same university in order to form a delegation together, but preparatory work may be easier to coordinate if so.  If demand is high, it is possible that the number of delegates per delegation will be increased.  Registered delegates will be informed of any such changes at the close of the registration period.

Since NORMAC University operates by the rule of consensus, delegates will find their diplomatic skills stretched and improved.  Unlike at other model diplomacy conferences, NORMAC University delegates do not debate pre-prepared resolutions.  Rather, they rise to the challenge of negotiating mutually agreeable ‘declarations’ in real time. To assist with the process of consensus building, each delegation is requested to provide a brief discussion paper a week or two ahead of the conference, which will be circulated to other delegations.

NORMAC University 2021 is expected to be held over five working days in late June and early July, beginning with talks from Arctic experts, an Opening Ceremony and a welcome dinner on Monday, and ending with a finale dinner on Friday.  In between will be three days of model diplomacy, as well as a field trip to the renowned Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.

ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION

At NORMAC University 2021, delegates will consider a set of issues that are very much of concern to Arctic States and Arctic indigenous peoples today.  Issues will be formally set in due course, but examples from past NORMAC and NORMAC University conferences include:

  • Plastic pollution in the Arctic marine environment
  • Sustainable energy in Arctic communities
  • Safety in Arctic marine tourism
  • The growth of Arctic shipping
  • Meteorological cooperation in the Arctic
  • Seismic exploration for oil and gas in the Arctic offshore
  • Broadband connectivity in Arctic communities
  • Arctic wetlands and climate change
  • Educational opportunity for Arctic children
  • Marine protected areas in the Arctic
  • Suicide in Arctic communities
  • The European Union as an Arctic Council Observer

Research Briefs will be published to help Delegates prepare to discuss the issues set for the conference.

MATERIALS FOR DELEGATES

Delegate materials for NORMAC University 2021 will be published in due course. In the meanwhile, delegates may browse materials for NORMAC University 2019 available below.

Delegate materials for NORMAC University 2019 are available for download using the links below:

NORWICH DECLARATION

Like Ministerial meetings of the real Arctic Council, every NORMAC University conference ends with a declaration summarising the agreements reached. Past ‘Norwich Declarations’ are available for download below.

Please note that the following declarations represent the collective agreement of student Delegates to NORMAC University, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Polar Aspect, Trent University or the University of East Anglia.

EXPERT TEACHING

The first day of NORMAC University features presentations and talks from experts on the Arctic, climate change and the environment.  It has been a privilege to welcome the following experts to past NORMAC University conferences:

  • Dr Odile Crabeck (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
  • Dr Nanna Kaalund (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)
  • Mr Asher Minns (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia)
  • Prof Heather Nicol (School for the Study of Canada and School of the Environment, Trent University)
  • Dr David Rose (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
  • Dr Anthony Speca (Polar Aspect and School for the Study of Canada, Trent University)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Polar Aspect and NORMAC University have been fortunate to benefit from the support of the following organisations. Special thanks must go to the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia for their on-going partnership and generous financial and in-kind support.