IASSA Council Statement
April 15, 2020TO: IASSA members
Government and non-government organizations
Dear Arctic community,
The International Arctic Social Sciences Association Council (IASSA) expresses its support to researchers, students and Arctic community members as we all deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents of Arctic communities, where there are limited public health, financial and community resources, are particularly vulnerable in this crisis. This includes the Indigenous, traditional and local knowledge holders so many of us work with and count as our close friends and colleagues. At the time of the writing, more than 3,505 Arctic residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 33 have died (https://arctic.uni.edu/
Impacts on social science research
Arctic social and health scientists are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as we often travel to and stay in communities, engage in face-to-face communication and need access to local archives and data to conduct our research. Community-driven work is not possible without regular communications between community members and researchers, meetings and collaborative activities. Although some of the communication can and has moved online, the connectivity issues in the Arctic create formidable obstacles for advancing our collaborative work. Many, if not most projects in the social sciences, health and humanities, are experiencing postponements or delays and still face great uncertainties. The COVID-19 pandemic also has revealed considerable knowledge gaps in health and social domains around the issues of epidemiology, public health, social support networks, food security, housing availability, social infrastructure development and many others, all of which require immediate research efforts to be commenced and funded.
IASSA recommended COVID-19 pandemic response principles
Under these unprecedented circumstances, the IASSA Council recommends the following principles to be used by the research community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
I. We call for a coordinated, comprehensive and flexible response by researchers, institutions, and funders that is also balanced and equitable in respect to disciplines, areas of research, and Arctic communities.
II. We emphasize the importance of adhering to the IASSA Research Principles by all scholars, institutions and funding agencies. In particular this means:
III. Capitalizing on Western, Indigenous, and local science and knowledge systems is key in knowledge co-production for understanding COVID-19 pandemic and addressing its consequences. Thus, we call on funding agencies and institutions to encourage the rapid release of funding for social and health research targeting these.
IV. In the long term, to minimize the future loss of vital data and research infrastructure an action is needed to rethink the role of Indigenous communities, Indigenous Peoples, specifically youth, in research priorities and activities. A network of Arctic indigenous communities/project leaders and formal engagement mechanisms could be developed as the first steps.
V. Finally, we ask IASSA members to make your and your community partners’ COVID-19 needs and concerns known to your institutions and funding agencies, propose solutions and cooperate with all parties to address possible issues.
Dr. Andrey N. Petrov, University of Northern Iowa, USA (IASSA President)
Dr. Dmitry Funk, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, RAS, Russia
Dr. Diane Hirshberg, University of Alaska Anchorage, USA
Dr. Michał Łuszczuk, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Poland
Dr. Gertrude Saxinger, University of Vienna, Austria
Dr. Peter Sköld, Umeå University, Sweden (Past President)
Dr. Tatiana Vlasova, Institute of Geography, RAS, Russia
Dr. Gary Wilson, University of Northern British Columbia, Canada
Ms. Alona Yefimenko, Indigenous Peoples Secretariat, Norway
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