NSF Issues Dear Colleague Letter on Efforts to Improve the Inclusion of Local and Indigenous Voices in Arctic Research

Announcement Summarized By: Sara Eckert, NSF Office of Polar Programs Communications Specialist

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National Science Foundation (NSF) programs supporting Arctic research greatly appreciate the formal and informal feedback recently provided by local and Indigenous communities and Arctic researchers on how NSF can improve inclusion of local and Indigenous voices, as well as Indigenous Knowledge (IK), in Arctic research. In a recent Dear Colleague Letter, NSF has outlined immediate actions being taken to support indigenous individuals and organizations.

Immediate Clarifications, Revisions, and Improvements to Arctic Programs

NSF has revised and clarified the Arctic Research Opportunities (NSF 21-526) and Navigating the New Arctic (NNA; NSF 21-524) solicitations to highlight ethical conduct of research in the Arctic. The updated solicitations also provide guidance on how to build true collaborations with local and Indigenous peoples in NSF-funded research and education.

NSF has also recently funded a Community Office for the Navigating the New Arctic Program, which is supporting the continued collaboration of Arctic scientists with local and Indigenous organizations and individuals.

Ongoing Outreach and Communication

NSF representatives continue to communicate frequently with local and Indigenous individuals and organizations to better understand their specific needs and potential ways to support more inclusive NSF-funded activities in the Arctic. These conversations have taken place with individual PIs, as well as larger audiences, including dedicated sessions at Arctic-focused and international science conferences.

NSF-wide Efforts

NSF's commitment to improvement in work with Indigenous individuals and organizations is aligned with one of the three pillars of Director Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan's vision for NSF, 'ensuring inclusivity.' In addition, the Office of Polar Programs has created a new subcommittee of its Advisory Committee dedicated to Diversity and Inclusion, which is engaged with the NSF Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE). The goal of these activities is to better understand the ongoing opportunities, challenges, and needs to continue to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion for NSF programs.

Resources for PIs and Arctic Communities

To increase the visibility and accessibility of these opportunities to a broader community, NSF has launched a landing page on Arctic Community Engagement (ACE). This page highlights solicitations and resources encouraging the inclusion of local Arctic communities and Indigenous Knowledge in NSF-funded projects.

NSF recognizes that these efforts are not the endpoint, but rather part of growing momentum toward increasing inclusion and equitable participation in research. NSF plans to continue to evolve procedures to ensure broadened support for equitable local and Indigenous participation in Arctic research projects. Please reach out to ACE [at] nsf.gov to submit feedback or provide input.