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Science Diplomacy across the Bering Straits: Experiential Learning as an Opportunity for Thawing US-Russian Relations

By Saleem H. Ali, Helena Voinov Vladich and Caroline Karp The Bering Region. Map from Wikimedia Commons Introduction The geographic point where the Russian and United States’ mainlands are closest lies in the Bering Strait between the State of Alaska and the Russian territory of Chukotka (Fig. 1, 2). At this point, these countries are...

By Saleem H. Ali, Helena Voinov Vladich and Caroline Karp

The Bering Region. Map from Wikimedia Commons


The geographic point where the Russian and United States’ mainlands are closest lies in the Bering Strait between the State of Alaska and the Russian territory of Chukotka (Fig. 1, 2). At this point, these countries are less than 82 km (51 miles) apart. Russian fiction and non-fiction along with media coverage of the history of “Russian America” has increased in recent years and there is a general sense of enchantment about this region’s history on both sides of the border.[i]

The opportunity to use this space as a metaphoric and substantive locus of scientific and cultural cooperation has been recognized for many years. For instance, statesman-scientist, Walter Orr Roberts suggested that the Bering Strait region should be designated as a “bi-national environmental research park” in 1984.[ii] Seven years later, following a historic meeting between President George H.W. Bush and Russian leader (and later Nobel peace laureate) Mikhail Gorbachev, the U.S. Senate proposed (via bill S. 2088) to establish an international park.[iii]   The Senate bill, which did not pass, would have authorized the President of the United States to designate, by proclamation, the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (originally given protection as a National Monument in 1978) and the Cape Krusenstern National Monument as the U.S. portion of the international park. This designation was contingent upon the enactment of a similar provision by the Russian Federation.[iv]

The drastic changes in Russia during the early 1990s limited progress on this effort although Presidents Bush and Yeltsin reaffirmed their support for a Beringian Park in 1992 and President Obama resumed negotiations with Russian President Putin in 2012 to increase cooperation in the Beringian region[v]. After many years of research and efforts on both sides of the Straits, the “Peace Park” initiative is still a work in in progress. Nevertheless, the U.S. National Park Services’ Shared Beringian Heritage Program has been operational since 1991, and National Park Beringia was established in Chukotka, Russia in 2013 (Table 1 presents a timeline of diplomatic efforts in the Bering Sea).

The U.S. Shared Beringian Heritage Program has supported over 140 projects and continues to support 12-20 active projects every year. More than half the projects involve some scientific research component, particularly focusing on marine mammals, sea ice patterns, reindeer herding, archaeology, and documentation of local traditions, language, and culture. Climate change research has also figured prominently in many funded projects within the last decade, given the rapid advent of Arctic warming.[vi]  In addition to nationally-sponsored research, it is important to recognize that the United States and Russia have executed a number of bilateral agreements that require cooperative scientific efforts, e.g., the 1972 U.S.–U.S.S.R. Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection and the 2013  Joint US-Russian Federation Statement on Enhanced Fisheries Cooperation which reaffirms the 1988  agreement between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. on Mutual Fisheries Relations.  More recently, the United States and Russia have engaged in joint academic research and educational efforts on Arctic issues that affect the Bering Strait under the auspices of the Russian-American Long-term Census of the Arctic (RUSALCA) program[vii] and the Arctic Council.

Yet despite the warming of the Global Ice Cap, the political climate between Russia and the United States is cooling to the point where the media sometimes  provocatively refers to the situation as “a new cold war.”[ix] In an era when the world has to tackle the triple challenges of sustainable climate, sustainable peace and sustainable development simultaneously, engaging students on these connections is essential. However, the broader peace dividends of these cooperative scientific efforts are yet not fully appreciated by American or Russian publics, and have not been adequately explored by the academic community in either country. This paper examines the potential of the atelier approach to build on the vision and accomplishments of the RUSALCA program to generate and test science-based strategies to address protection and management of the natural and cultural heritage of Beringia. In this way, the atelier program described below can help fill the gap between formal diplomacy and formal science.

Shared Beringian Heritage Program as a Mechanism for Science Diplomacy

Science diplomacy can be defined as “international science cooperation [intended] primarily to improve political relations with other countries”[x]  has the potential to strengthen or improve relations between Russia and the United States in a number of ways. Joint scientific investigations have the potential to spread the norms of scientific inquiry —including transparency, peer review, and evidence-based decision making — to enhance governance. As noted by Turekian & Neureiter and others[xi], science and technology have often demonstrated their value as instruments of diplomacy in terms of creating a legacy of cooperation, a shared vocabulary and a shared scientific baseline upon which to base multilateral agreements.  Familiar examples include the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58 which led to the Antarctic Treaty Regime, as well as coordinated international scientific studies that led to the 1979 Geneva Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution and the 1987 Montreal Protocol.[xii] However, as noted in an earlier article in this journal “this scientific dimension of diplomacy is only powerful if scientific and diplomatic tools that promote it are effective.”[xiii] If science remains esoteric and confined to specific technical cooperation, its impact on diplomacy will be limited.  On the other hand,  the atelier approach described in this article can use and build on cooperative scientific efforts to examine policy options with respect to protection, use and management of shared cultural, natural and environmental resources. The atelier approach can also be used to generate and test alternative policy proposals which can contribute to existing community-based management efforts, and foster citizen-based diplomacy and collaborative science between Russian and American students and their research mentors.

We describe an “Atelier” methodology to carry forward such an effort within the Beringian region. Ateliers are problem-solving workshops conducted in local communities around the world that represent a version of the clinical case model that has been used in architecture and planning charettes.[xiv] Intensive rapid ateliers for environmental education have been developed and successfully run at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont (UVM). They combine guest lectures, case studies, and student-led research on a specific socio-environmental issue in a particular place. As stated by the developers of these programs at UVM,  “Ateliers take students out of the classroom and place them in the field where they are able to study an issue firsthand, work with local partners and stakeholders , and develop the measurements, tools, and strategies necessary to resolve environmental conflicts.”[xv] There is also considerable potential to link such an undertaking to the Arctic Council’s Fulbright Program as well as the annual Beringia Days International Conference, and the Arctic Science Summer week in Fairbanks Alaska.

Program Structure and Diplomatic Impact

Since the Beringian region is physically so far from the centers of diplomatic power in both Russia and the United States, an experiential learning program needs to be developed that can “bring home” the connections between the Arctic and political priorities in Moscow and Washington.  In this section we describe in detail a program comprising 10 modules which incrementally build student’s interest in ecological connectivity and reflect the need for improved relations between Russia and the United States. The modules are designed to highlight the peace dividends that can be harnessed from this particular region because of the shared history of its inhabitants that transcends borders. Thus the modules are designed to make the case that ecological learning across borders is not only scientifically appropriate but politically expedient. The following modules descriptions encapsulate the key learning objectives of the progam:

Module 1: Bio-physical-social history of Bering Sea/Strait

The extraordinary resilience of the Bering region inhabitants will be the opening segment to the learning program. This module could focus on the archaeological research and controversies around the land bridge and its implications for indigenous American history, as well as contemporary communities and their connection to the land and water. The unique history and status of the Diomede Islands will be one of foci of the presentations. Content material focusing on the way the community on Little Diomede is connected by lineage to cousins on the Russian side and the challenges which national boundaries have placed on them will be studied from an ethnographic perspective. Russia refers to the large Diomede Island as Ratmanov Island and all the indigenous communities there were relocated to the mainland. The biophysical and social attributes of the straits and the islands will be discussed and provide a natural transition to module 2 of the course.

Module 2: Natural resource use and conservation

Much of the narrative on environmental peace-building has historically focused on security as determined by resource scarcity (see Millennium Project definitions of environmental security[xvi]). The alternative theory of ecological diplomacy, which has partly been developed through the advent of the Antarctic Treaty system during the cold war, focuses on facilitating peace through environment initiatives.[xvii] Although one might argue that diplomatic mechanisms like the international climate change negotiation process they have certainly promoted good will between countries and built trust[xviii]. The atelier’s fundamental research question will address how science can be more effectively utilized to build trust between countries that have a trust deficit.  We could also replicate the model of this atelier beyond university students to also work with border-guard, coast guard and other professional occupations. Consequently, we would explore what are the legal and policy means of then pursuing ecological diplomacy among several layers of stakeholders. [xix]

Module 3: Marine Resources in Beringia

The fishing industry provides an important instructive mechanism for students to grapple with the “tragedy of the commons,” that can occur with an open access resource without proper environmental cooperation. Both Russia and the United States have very active fisheries in the North Pacific. There has been a consultative committee between the two countries since a bilateral agreement was signed in 1988.[xx] This agreement has provided joint data-gathering opportunities across the region. Keeping such data in context, this module will consider the issues of how the Alaska Permanent Fund and its Dividend system can account for natural assets, particularly in a trans-boundary ecological region. The module will explore ways in which Russian and American fisheries science can cooperate to ensure better sustainability outcomes for the marine ecosystem in this region that is vital for local and global protein consumption.

Module 4: Conceptual and Practical aspects of Peace Parks

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines peace parks as “transboundary protected areas that are formally dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, as well as the promotion of peace and cooperation.”[xxi]  The potential here too is to frame environmental degradation as a common aversion mechanism for parties, which can in turn lead to cooperation. Once conflicting parties realize that a deteriorating ecology is a detriment to all sides they are more likely to co-operate: The elegance of this argument is that we can also use the tools of ecological diplomacy to address conflicts, including those that have nothing to do with the environment.[xxii] In this module, the following cases could be examined in detail:

  • The Waterton Glacier International Peace Park established by Canadian and American chapters of Rotary International campaigning for its establishment and successfully having legislative bills passed in 1930.
  • UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Russian[xxiii] and US-Canadian Arctic (Kluane/Wrangell-St. Elias/Glacier Bay/Tatshenshini-Alsek; Wood Buffalo National Park).
  • The Sister Parks Program established originally by President Eisenhower as a means of post-war reconstruction and healing.
  • Associated marine protected areas and their collective designations as cooperative zones.[xxiv]

Module 5: Reference State and Backcasting Analysis

This module will be premised on the view that the process of decision-making and consensus-building would be more effective if stakeholders first constructed an image of a common “reference state” that is acceptable — or even inspiring — to all parties. In other words, the visioning process comes first.[xxv]  Rather than being independent of reference positions, the behavioral findings suggest that people’s valuations are far more likely to be reference dependent, with losses being commonly valued substantially more than gains.[xxvi] Interactive backcasting, a technical approach to crafting sustainable solutions in the course of environmental decision making, [xxvii] [xxviii] in the case of conflict between scales of interest, involves developing a vision of a desirable future (regional and local reference states), [xxix] [xxx] and then working backward to determine what conditions would be necessary to achieve that state. Interactive backcasting focuses on producing images of the future. According to Holmberg[xxxi], this process involves four steps:

  • The identification of long-term sustainability criteria;
  • The analysis of the present state in comparison to these criteria;
  • The development of a vision of a desirable, sustainable future (reference state);
  • The design of a pathway to a desirable, sustainable future.

Module 6: System analysis and leverage points to intervene the System

System thinking enacts the idea of leverage, whereby interventions can have multiple impacts. In a process of developing a framework intended to interact with multiple stakeholders, policy makers and the community at different scales and levels it is important to consider the list of places to intervene within the system – an approach developed by pioneering system scientist, the late Donella Meadows.[xxxii] In increasing order of effectiveness and hence listed in reverse numerical order which will form the basis for this module:

  1. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards).
    11. The sizes of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows.
    10. The structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures).
    9. The lengths of delays, relative to the rate of system change.
    8. The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against.
    7. The gain around driving positive feedback loops.
    6. The structure of
    information flows (who does and does not have access to information).
    5. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints).
    4. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure.
    3. The goals of the system.
    2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arises.
    1. The power to transcend paradigms.

For example, at the level 5 – rules of the system – module will discuss rules and regulations from the IMO that will need to be designed and enforced since the Bering Strait is becoming the focal point of transit by merchant vessels to the Arctic.  This is an issue has a potential to also link Russia and the USA, since they are the Gatekeepers of the Bering Strait. The module will motivate students to identify leverage points which will help by not only collecting additional data/evidence, but by acting at the deeper level of the cores values.

Module 7:  Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services concepts

The suite of terrestrial, aquatic, aerial, and subterranean ecosystems throughout the world provide the basic support required for human life. We place value on ecosystem functions because they are essential for our continued existence. We also place value on ecosystems for our cultural and emotional needs. From an ecological perspective, the concept of value has a different connotation because ecosystems do not have systems of value. “Ecosystem service” is a term coined to make apparent that the structure and function of ecosystems provide value (some of which can be monetary expressed, and some of it cannot) to humans[xxxiii].On a practical side, the advantages of employing the concept of ecosystem services are emanate from:

  • Bringing together economic and ecological concepts in a dynamic conceptual system;
  • Making use of the best available economic tools and methods to reveal meaningful values for non-marketed environmental systems;
  • Its use by decision makers to evaluate tradeoffs between land use change and human-centered values [xxxiv]

Both Alaska and Chukotka have significant evidence of natural capital which will be examined in this module of the course. For example, a new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 2.68 million visitors to national parks in Alaska spent $1.14 billion in the state in 2014. That spending resulted in 17,000 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $1.63 billion[xxxv]. This is equals to state income generated by mining of around $1.6 billion with 9000 direct and indirect jobs and over $630 million in salaries.[xxxvi]

Module 8. Planetary Boundaries Concepts and Climate Change

The term Planetary Boundaries (PB), was introduced by scientists of Stockholm Resilience Center and is not be confused with the geological concept of plate boundaries.[xxxvii] PB framework arises from the scientific evidence that the Earth is a single, complex, integrated system. In this system, the Arctic region serves as an environmental safeguard, ensuring both regional and planetary biospheric equilibrium. Climate change is the most widely known manifestation of a test to PB for various scenarios that affect Arctic environment and quality of life of indigenous people. During recent decades, this area has become also accessible for active oil/gas and other minerals extraction with an extensive transportation/pipeline infrastructure, which, along with climatic changes creates tremendous pressure on the region. The rapid depletion of essential Arctic resources, coupled with a worldwide degradation of land and atmospheric quality,[xxxviii] indicate that the human activities may have exceeded its social and environmental carrying capacities by depleting essential natural capital stocks. [xxxix] This module will particularly consider also how the Planetary Boundaries and Environmental Carrying Capacity approaches contribute towards solutions, mitigating complex trade-offs between conservation, affected indigenous lifestyles and development.

Module 9:  Role of Participatory Spatial Analysis (PSA) in decision making and consensus building

There are also some specific structured tools which can supplement the role of science in environmental diplomacy. Participatory Modelling (PM) is one approach that is gaining a lot of attention. PM is a general approach to involving stakeholders in the modelling process and is designed to assist in decision making, conflict resolution, and general management of the process.[xl] It has been a particularly valuable tool in furthering environmental diplomatic efforts. PM is driven by the goals of the stakeholder group and is not limited to the use of any specific modelling tools or requirements to ask particular types of management questions. The goal of the PM approach is to make the modelling development process transparent and share the excitement of modelling with the stakeholders. This, in turn, makes it possible to: educate stakeholders about the processes and functions of the environmental system; solicit input and data about the system; define scenarios, types of output, and the uses of the model; and create a constructive environment for negotiation and consensus building. Students will investigate how Participatory Modelling, coupled with spatial analysis techniques, are new tools that can be employed to facilitate environmental diplomacy. They will choose one or more of the tools to develop a framework for further steps to thaw relationships in times of a global climate warming and a cycle of political cooling between two nations.

Module 10.  Mediation/Negotiations tools

This module will familiarize students with the means by which agreements can be reached when dealing with a complex set of values and stakeholders. Corporations, governments and community activists struggle to find common ground in resource-based conflicts that often become intractable. As noted in our earlier efforts at developing an ecodiplomacy academy, “an impasse on environmental conflicts can hinder the implementation of potential conservation priorities as well as economic development opportunities.”[xli]  While recognizing the importance of constructive confrontation in cases of social justice, this module aims to consider how to most efficiently engage in environmental diplomacy. When should other options, such as legal action or sanctions be considered? How can agreements be negotiated between parties which have differing environmental values and assumptions about ecological science?

A six-party, multi-issue simulation game focused on a dispute over environmental concerns, indigenous rights, and commercial development interests in Beringia will be developed at the preliminary stage before the Atelier course. This simulation is similar in texture to one developed by MIT in the context of development in Hawaii. This simulation makes use of a neutral facilitator or mediator and highlights the importance of building coalitions.[xlii]

Linking Experiential Learning to Contemporary Politics

In order to apply ecological learning from the ten modules in a bi-national context, students would be asked to focus on a pre-selected atelier project and work in teams of Russian and American participants to develop joint solutions to those socio-ecological concerns. The existing repertoire of joint scientific research projects conducted under the Shared Beringian Heritage program can provide fertile ground for selecting those projects.  Some of these projects may require fieldwork that could necessitate external funding support while others could be undertaken through remote sensing methodologies and joint distance learning platforms. Potential Beringia case studies that could be part of the atelier teaching modules as well as subsequent student research assignment topics:

  • The US National Park Service’s mission is focused on preserving “unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.”[xliii]  Do Russia’s Park Service, other Federal and State agencies with responsibilities in the Bering Sea; institutions and agencies that represent indigenous peoples and NGOs share the US view of the overall mission of conservation in the Beringian Park? How are they different and what could be means of better alignment?
  • The Bering Sea is still used for subsistence and commercial fisheries and generates more than 40% of all fish and shellfish landings in the US and is the source of more than 25 million pounds of subsistence foods used by nearly 55,000 local residents.”[xliv].  These fisheries are managed by the Department of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which raises questions about cooperation between the Department of Interior NPS, NMFS Russian counterparts and indigenous leaders. What are the opportunities for more effective co-management of fisheries?
  • The Stellers’s sea cow was hunted to extinction within 27 years of its discovery in 1741 by the V.Bering expedition in the Bering Straits. A question here is whether and how well the US, Russia and the various indigenous communities cooperate to manage or govern endangered species, particularly within the context of international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity which Russia has ratified but the United States has not (although it was a founding signatory of the convention). How might trends in abundance and diversity of wildlife species, health/happiness of local people be used as “indicators” of environmental governance?

The Arctic has a key role in some planetary boundaries that are being crossed in terms of climate change, biosphere integrity, land system change and ocean acidification.[xlv] At the same time, too much of the popular narrative, in particular media framing, of polar politics is driven by the notion of inevitable conflict. The “Arctic cold war” continues to characterize coverage across popular media, reinforced by the regular publication of books that support such an interpretation. Policy-makers and the general public can also be easily misled by inflammatory writings on impending conflict[xlvi]. Our proposed approach would use experiential learning in a very specific and tangible case context to challenge such conflict-driven framing.

For diplomatic dividends to be reaped the output from such an atelier must find a high-impact venue for dissemination and we suggest an interface with prominent think tanks in Moscow and Washington in this regard. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) which have offices in both capitals may be an excellent partner but there could be numerous other prospects considered as well. The proposed Beringian Science Diplomacy effort would seek such partnerships for furthering its impact. The proposed program can occur at multiple scales of education levels from high school all the way to postgraduate studies. The career paths of the students who participate in the program should also be followed to see how this experience has impacted their interest in US-Russian research collaboration.


The aim of this article has been to propose a way to operationalize science diplomacy from the grassroots via an experiential learning program. Our goal is to provide a bridge between macro-level approaches to US-Russian science diplomacy and more bottom-up ventures. We recognize that such a program can only be one small part of a much larger science diplomacy effort with Russia that could also involve research on common threat issues of hard politics such as technologies and means to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism. However, those areas of potential “high politics science diplomacy” remain fraught by lack of trust, even though there has been a long-standing cooperative program on nuclear security.[xlvii] Such macro-level programs have been effective in preventing nuclear conflict but scientific research collaboration has been constrained by concerns of military competitive advantage. Any cooperation therein is complicated because although goals may be similar for both countries, differing strategies and tactics prevail. The conflict in Syria is emblematic of this tension where both countries have a collective goal of eradicating religious extremism in the Middle East but very different strategy and tactics as well as disagreements on geopolitical allies to reach the common goal. Environmental scientific collaboration does not have such complicating factors to hinder the efficacy of science diplomacy.

The Beringian region has been a particularly fertile ground for US-Russian cooperation, even though it has not received the headline coverage that high political issues of conflict and cooperation often do. The willingness of both countries to continue engagement on plans for a possible transboundary conservation area or “peace park” is testament to this unique aspect of the Beringian case. Typically, issues around territorial sovereignty can be difficult to negotiate and provide major stumbling blocks in conflicts. Peace parks open an opportunity to circumvent the sovereignty debate by focusing on science-based cooperation regardless of territorial claims. They can thus de-politicize cooperation if properly pitched and can set the scene for other forms of cooperation in trickier areas such as competition for economic resources. As noted in interview commentary from one of the coauthors of this article to the United Nations University, “Transboundary protected areas (which are acknowledged by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and various UN conventions as a vital conservation mechanism) can be developed, through negotiation processes that are led by governments or foreign donors, to bring warring parties together.”[xlviii] The key to transforming a transboundary conservation area into a peace park is the instrumental use of such a region such as Beringia in building cooperation and trust.

The Beringian atelier’s fundamental research question, which the students will address through their collaborative projects, is how science can be more effectively utilized to build trust between countries that have a trust deficit. This is particularly timely given the need for international cooperation over issues such as climate change. Within the context of negotiation discourse, climate change may be termed a “common aversion” which could lead to potential cooperative outcomes between antagonists.[xlix] For the Arctic the “aversion” translates into a destruction of habitat important for reindeer herding and for key Arctic species such as seals and polar bears.

Common interests can often lead to competitive behaviour, whereas the framing of an issue such as climate change as a common aversion could possibly lead to greater cooperation. Adam Smith (1812) made this observation over two centuries ago: “We suffer more . . . when we fall from a better to a worse situation, than we ever enjoy when we rise from a worse to a better (cited in [l]).  Thus the fear of falling can be a stimulant for cooperation. Furthermore sustaining such cooperation is more likely if one enlarges what Axelrod[li] called “the shadow of the future” thereby catalyzing the cooperation.[lii] Experiential learning and the likely impact such a program could have on students’ career trajectories has the potential to enlarge the shadow of the future. Russia and the United States have much to gain from ensuring that the unique features of Beringia and their shared geographic and social heritage can help to build better relations between their next generation of environmental scientists.


[i] Vinkovetsky, I. (2004). The Russian-American Company as a Colonial Contractor for the Russian Empire. In Imperial rule (Miller, A.,Rieber, A., pp. 161–176). Budapest, New York: na.

Znamenski, A. A. (2009). History with an Attitude: Alaska in Modern Russian Patriotic Rhetoric. Jahrbücher Für Geschichte Osteuropas, 346–373.

[ii] Letter from W.Roberts to the Climate Club. (7/14/84). PROVOCATIONS #10: US/USSR BI-NATIONAL RESEARCH ZONE IN THE BERING STRAIT. Published online by NCAR/UCAR OpenSky at

[iii] Senate Bill S. 2088. November 1991.  “A bill to authorize the establishment of a Beringian Heritage International Park”, cited in NPS. (2013). Shared  Beringian Heritage Program:History of the Program. Retrieved from

[iv] Ibid.

[v] U.S. Department of State. September 2012. Joint Statement of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. Cooperation in the Bering Strait Region. Available at   SEE  U.S. and Russian Federation agreement to restore visa-free travel in the Bering Strait to enable families to visit each other.  U.S. Department of State. July 2015. Bering Strait Visa-Free Travel Program. Available at

[vi] For a video animation of Arctic warming refer to

[vii] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Arctic ResearchRussian-American Long-term Census of the Arctic (RUSALCA)

[viii] See the 2015 Joint Declaration to Prevent Unregulated Fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean. U.S. Department of State Press Release. Arctic Nations Sign Declaration to Prevent Unregulated Fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean” (July 2015) available online @ ;   Joint Berkman, Paul. “Stability and Peace in the Arctic Ocean through Science Diplomacy.” Science and Diplomacy, June, 2014

[ix]Moving closer to a ‘new cold war.’ BBC News, June 25, 2015

[x] Gerson, S. (2014). “Science diplomacy and beyond.” Science 645:631

[xi] Turekian, V. C., & Neureiter, N. P. (2012). Science and diplomacy: The past as prologue. Science & Diplomacy, 1(1), 26; Doel, R. et al. 2014. “Strategic Arctic science: National interests in building knowledge” J.Hist.Geog. 44:60

[xii] Benedick, R. (2007). Science, diplomacy, and the Montreal Protocol. Published online in Encyclopedia of Earth  @

[xiii] Formal, A (2012). “Science and Technology Agreements as Tools for Science Diplomacy.” Science & Diplomacy:

[xiv] Tucker, Richard, and John Rollo. “Teaching and Learning in Collaborative Group Design Projects.” Architectural Engineering and Design Management 2, no. 1–2 (January 1, 2006):

[xv] For examples of past ateliers in other contexts refer to the following site:

[xvi] GFSR. (2015). Definitions of Environmental Security Environmental Security Study. Section 2 – Definitions of Environmental Security. Millenium Project. Global Futures Studies @ Research. Retrieved from  and Hsiang, S. M., Burke, M., & Miguel, E. (2013). Quantifying the influence of climate on human conflict. Science, 341(6151), 1235367.

[xvii] Triggs, G. (2011). The Antarctic Treaty System: A model of legal creativity and cooperation. Science Diplomacy: Antarctica, Science, and the Governance of International Spaces, 39–49.

[xviii] Termeer, C., Dewulf, A., van Rijswick, H., van Buuren, A., Huitema, D., Meijerink, S., … Wiering, M. (2011). The regional governance of climate adaptation: a framework for developing legitimate, effective, and resilient governance arrangements. Climate Law, 2(2), 159–179

[xix] Susskind, L. E., & Ali, S. H. (2014). Environmental diplomacy: negotiating more effective global agreements. Oxford University Press.

[xx] For details on the agreement, please refer to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization site:

[xxi] Chester, C. “Transboundary protected areas.” Article in Encyclopaedia of Earth online:

[xxii] Ali, S. H. (2007). Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution. (Global Environmental Accord: Strategies for Sustainability and Institutional Innovation) (1st ed.). The MIT Press.

[xxiii] Refer to

[xxiv] Refer to

[xxv] Farley, J., & Costanza, R. (2002). Envisioning shared goals for humanity: a detailed, shared vision of a sustainable and desirable USA in 2100. Ecological Economics, 43(2-3), 245–259 and Knetsch, J. L. (2005). Gains, Losses, and the US-EPA Economic Analyses Guidelines: A Hazardous Product? Environmental and Resource Economics, 32(1), 91–112.

[xxvi] Bateman, I., Munro, A., Rhodes, B., Starmer, C., & Sugden, R. (1997). A test of the theory of reference-dependent preferences. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 479–505.

[xxvii] Hisschemöller, M. (2002). Interactive backcasting (IB). Retrieved from

[xxviii] Van de Kerkhof, M., Hisschemoller, M., & Spanjersberg, M. (2002). Shaping diversity in participatory foresight studies: experiences with interactive backcasting in a stakeholder assessment on long-term climate policy in the Netherlands. Greener Management International, 85–99.

[xxix] Farley, J., & Costanza, R. (2002). Envisioning shared goals for humanity: a detailed, shared vision of a sustainable and desirable USA in 2100. Ecological Economics, 43(2-3), 245–259.

[xxx] Voinov Vladich, H. (2012). Participatory Spatial analysis, High Resolution Remote Sensing Data and Ecosystem Services Valuation Approach as Tools for Environmental Consensus Building. (PhD Dissertation). University of Vermont.

[xxxi] Holmberg, J. (1998). Backcasting: a natural step in operationalising sustainable development. Greener Management International, 30–52.

[xxxii] For a good summary of the Leveraging Points with commentary, refer to The Solutions Journal online article on this;

[xxxiii] Daily, G. C. (1997). Ecosystem services: benefits supplied to human societies by natural ecosystems. Ecological Society of America Washington (DC): Island Press.

[xxxiv] Costanza, R., Wilson, M., Troy, A., Voinov, A., Liu, S., & D’Agostino, J. (2007). The value of New Jersey’s ecosystem services and natural capital. The Gund Institute of Ecological Economics, Burlington, VT and The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Trenton, New Jersey.

[xxxv] NPS. (2015). 2014 National Park  Visitor Spending Effects. Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation (Natural Resource Report No. NPS/NRSS/EQD/NRR — 2015 / 947). Fort Collins, Colorado: U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service Natural Resource Stewardship and Science. Retrieved from

[xxxvi] Alaska Alliance. (2015, August 25). Message to President Obama from Alaska “Dear Mr. President: Welcome to Alaska.” Alaska Business Monthly. Anchorage. Retrieved from

[xxxvii] Rockström, J., Steffen, W. L., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin III, F. S., Lambin, E., … Schellnhuber, H. J. (2009). Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity.

Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin, F. S., Lambin, E. F., … Schellnhuber, H. J. (2009). A safe operating space for humanity. Nature, 461(7263), 472–475.

[xxxviii] Cohen, A. J., Ross Anderson, H., Ostro, B., Pandey, K. D., Krzyzanowski, M., Künzli, N., … Samet, J. M. (2005). The global burden of disease due to outdoor air pollution. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 68(13-14), 1301–1307. Jacobson, M. Z. (2009). Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security. Energy & Environmental Science, 2(2), 148–173. Seinfeld, J. H., & Pandis, S. N. (2012). Atmospheric chemistry and physics: from air pollution to climate change. John Wiley & Sons.

Bai, Z. G., Dent, D. L., Olsson, L., & Schaepman, M. E. (2008). Proxy global assessment of land degradation. Soil Use and Management, 24(3), 223–234.

[xxxix] Steffen, W., Richardson, K., Rockström, J., Cornell, S. E., Fetzer, I., Bennett, E. M., … Sörlin, S. (2015). Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science, 347(6223), 1259855.

[xl] Voinov Vladich, H. (2012). Participatory Spatial analysis, High Resolution Remote Sensing Data and Ecosystem Services Valuation Approach as Tools for Environmental Consensus Building. (PhD Dissertation). University of Vermont.

Voinov, A., & Gaddis, E. J. B. (2008). Lessons for successful participatory watershed modeling: a perspective from modeling practitioners. Ecological Modelling, 216(2), 197–207.

[xli] Ecodiplomacy Academy, University of Vermont,

[xlii] Susskind, L. E. (1985). Scorable Games: A Better Way to Teach Negotiation? Negotiation Journal, 1(3), 205–209 and Susskind, L., & Schenk, T. (2014). Can Games Really Change the Course of History? Négociations, 22(2), 29–39. A similar game has also been developed in the context of Hawaii by MIT. Refer to

[xliii] National Park Service Mission Statement:

[xliv] North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) @

[xlv]  MOU on World Oceans and Polar Regions Studies, a Russian Federation-USA government initiative signed in Washington in 2003.

[xlvi] Pincus, R. H., & Ali, S. H. (2015). Diplomacy on Ice: Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctic. Yale University Press.

[xlvii] For an excellent online summary of US-Russian nuclear security cooperation, refer to Hecker, S.S. P. Davis  “Why the US Should Keep Cooperating with Russia on Nuclear Security.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.  May 29, 2014

[xlviii] Mark Notaris, “Building Peace through Environmental Conservation” Interview with Saleem Ali at the United Nations University, Tokyo:

[xlix] Ali, S. H. (2003). Environmental Planning and Cooperative Behavior Catalyzing Sustainable Consensus. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 23(2), 165–176.

[l] Camerer, C. F., Loewenstein, G., & Rabin, M. (2003). Advances in Behavioral Economics. Princeton University Press.

[li] Axelrod, R. (1985). The evolution of cooperation: Basic books.

[lii] Ali, S. H. (2003). Environmental Planning and Cooperative Behavior Catalyzing Sustainable Consensus. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 23(2), 165–176.








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Meet the Author

Saleem Ali
Saleem H. Ali is Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Energy and the Environment at the University of Delaware (USA) and a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia. He is also a Senior Fellow at Columbia University's Center on Sustainable Enterprise. Dr. Ali is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for 2010 and World Economic Forum "Young Global Leader" (2011). His books include "Environmental Diplomacy" (with Lawrence Susskind, Oxford Univ. Press) and "Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed and a Sustainable Future" (Yale University Press). He can be followed on Twitter @saleem_ali.