A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF NORMAC UNIVERSITY
Norwich Model Arctic Council (NORMAC) 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 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, Gwich’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 is one of the few diplomatic simulations of its kind in the world, and the one of the very few designed primarily for undergraduates. Before becoming an educator, NORMAC 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. Since 2016, he has launched a number of Polar Aspect MAC conferences to share his enthusiasm for the Arctic with youth, 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 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 is open to students from any university around the world, particularly undergraduates. Participants are invited to form one or more delegations of two students each to play the role of representatives from one of the eight Arctic States or six Arctic Indigenous peoples’ organisations. Students need not 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.
No prior experience of the Arctic or of model diplomacy is necessary to participate in NORMAC, and delegates will be provided with a Delegate Guide and Research Guide in good time to help them prepare. The NORMAC Secretariat will also be on hand before and during the conference to answer any questions. Scheduled ‘reflection’ sessions will help delegates pause to consider the progress of the conference, and to transform their experiences into learning.
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. Since NORMAC operates by the rule of consensus, delegates will find their diplomatic skills stretched and improved. Unlike at other model diplomacy conferences, NORMAC 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 TIMETABLE
NORMAC conferences take place over five full days, and they generally keep to the following schedule:
- Day 1 – A teaching day featuring introductions to the Arctic, the Arctic Council and NORMAC, plus presentations from Arctic experts, followed by opening speeches from delegates and a welcome dinner
- Day 2 – Diplomatic negotiations
- Day 3 – Continued diplomatic negotiations
- Day 4 – Field trip to the renowned Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, with time to explore Cambridge campus and city
- Day 5 – Continued diplomatic negotiations with final speeches and a decision on the ‘declaration’, followed by a finale dinner
The conference timetable will also include dedicated opportunities for guided reflection with NORMAC Director Dr Anthony Speca and other Arctic experts, in order to support delegates in transforming experience into learning.
A full timetable will be provided to delegates closer to the date of the conference.
ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION AT NORMAC UNIVERSITY
At NORMAC, delegates consider issues that are very much of concern to Arctic States and Arctic Indigenous peoples today. Issues are formally set in advance of each NORMAC conference to allow good time for preparatory research. Examples of issues considered at past Polar Aspect MAC conferences include:
- Thawing Arctic permafrost
- 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 provided to delegates to help them prepare to discuss the issues set for their NORMAC conference.
NORMAC UNIVERSITY DELEGATE MATERIALS
No prior experience of the Arctic or model diplomacy is necessary to take part in NORMAC. Delegates will be provided with a Delegate Guide and Research Guide in good time ahead of their NORMAC conference, in order to help them prepare.
The most recent NORMAC Delegate Guide and Research Guide are available for download below:
- NORMAC University 1 Delegate Guide (2019)
- NORMAC University 1 Research Briefs (2019)
- NORMAC University 1 Timetable (2019)
Like at Ministerial meetings of the real Arctic Council, every NORMAC conference ends with a declaration summarising the agreements reached, and named after the location where the diplomatic meetings took place. All delegates will receive a specially formatted copy of the declaration as a record of their efforts.
Past ‘Norwich Declarations’ are available for download below. Please note that these 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.
ARCTIC EXPERTS AT NORMAC UNIVERSITY
Each NORMAC conference features presentations and talks from experts on the Arctic, climate change and the environment. Arctic experts may also observe conference proceedings, and offer advice to delegates during guided reflection sessions.
Delegates to past Polar Aspect MAC conferences have benefitted from talks, teaching and guidance from such experts as:
- Dr Odile Crabeck (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
- Ms Beth Derks (School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication, University of East Anglia)
- Ms Sarah Gavron and Mr David Katznelson (filmmakers, Village at the End of the World)
- Dr Nanna Kaalund (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)
- Ms Christine Kelly (Polar Regions Department, UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office)
- Prof Ketil Lenert Hansen (Regional Knowledge Centre for Children and Youth, University of Tromsø)
- Mr Asher Minns (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia)
- Prof Mariele Neudecker (Bath School of Art, Bath Spa University)
- Prof Heather Nicol (School for the Study of Canada and School of the Environment, Trent University)
- Mr Tony Penikett OC (former Premier, Yukon Territory)
- Prof Antonio Quesada (Spanish Polar Committee, and Faculty of Science, Autonomous University of Madrid)
- 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)
- Mr Matthew Willis (International Defence Relations, Global Affairs Canada)
Polar Aspect have been fortunate to benefit from the support of the following organisations for NORMAC University. 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.