Dr Laura Ferguson, Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast, is a founding member of the Svalbard Social Science Initiative (SSSI) which has recently gained the status of an official organization in Norway.
The SSSI was launched in early 2019 by an international group of researchers studying the social dimensions of the dynamic changes underway in Svalbard. The aim of the network is to create linkages among social scientists working with issues related to Svalbard, establish a platform for coordinating research activities and to facilitate communication with local communities and other researchers.
The SSSI held their first international workshop as a side-event to the Svalbard Science Conference in Oslo in November 2019. The workshop brought together a group of 23 people, including representatives from Longyearbyen Lokalstyre, AECO, the Norwegian Research Council and researchers from various institutions. The SSSI also had a “Social Science Corner” at the conference’s poster presentation, where most of the active SSSI members exhibited their research.
Laura has extensive Arctic research experience, particularly in Svalbard and Greenland, and is a member of The Arctic Club (UK), The Scottish Arctic Club and a former student at the University Centre in Svalbard. As part of her work with the SSSI last year, Laura was part of a team gathering social data to contribute to the consultation on the new management plan for Central Spitsbergen. In 2020 she plans to contribute through a mapping project, a 3-day SSSI workshop in Longyearbyen, and a proposed special edition of Polar Record.
Further information about Svalbard Social Science Initiative can be found at their website: https://www.svalbardsocialscience.com.