Lunchtime Talk: Melting the Ice Curtain

Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula is just a few miles across the Bering Strait from northwest Alaska, and indigenous peoples traditionally traveled back and forth across the strait. But the border between Alaska and Chukotka was essentially closed for decades, during the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Then, in the 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union and took steps to improve relations with the West.

Some Alaskans took that change as an opportunity to re-open ties with the Russian Far East. In his new book, Melting the Ice Curtain, David Ramseur describes these Alaskans as “citizen diplomats,” and tells the story of how cooperation at the individual level between Alaskans and Russians did for a time build better relations between Alaska and the Russian Far East. David Ramseur is currently a visiting scholar in public policy at ISER, but at the time of thawing Alaska-Russia relations, he was the press secretary for Steve Cowper, then governor of Alaska. He traveled to Provideniya, in the Chukotka region, on the 1988 Alaska Airlines "Friendship Flight," which carried a group of Alaskans on a cultural exchange. Join us to hear him talk about this important time in Alaska-Russia relations.

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Lunchtime Talk: Developing a Climate Action Plan and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for Anchorage

Sponsored by the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, ISER, and The Nature Conservancy

The Municipality of Anchorage asked UAF's Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) to develop a climate action plan and an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for Anchorage. Those documents will be included in a broad resilience initiative the city is currently working on. ACEP—in partnership with ISER and The Nature Conservancy—hired Jacob Shercliffe as a summer intern, to draft the two documents.

Jacob Shercliffe is an economics student at UAA. The staffs of ACEP, ISER, and The Nature Conservancy advised him as he drafted the action plan and the emissions inventory. Now he is ready to deliver the draft documents to the city, which will release them for public comment in October. In his lunchtime talk, Jacob will describe how he created the two documents and the progress he made. He'll also talk about how Anchorage residents can get involved in determining how the city deals with climate change.

When: Friday, August 18, 12 to 1 p.m.
Where: ISER Conference Room, Third Floor, 1901 Bragaw Street, Suite 301

Note: This talk will not be live streamed or recorded.

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Gunnar Knapp and Michelle Bartlett Awarded 2017 Bullock Prize for Excellence

Gunnar Knapp speaking

Gunnar Knapp, professor emeritus of economics at ISER, and Michelle Bartlett, director of UAF's Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning program, have been awarded the 2017 Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence. The UA Foundation awards the prize annually to recognize excellence in support of the University of Alaska. Gunnar Knapp was a faculty economist at ISER from 1981 to June 2016, and also directed ISER from 2013 until he retired in June 2016. He is internationally recognized for his research on fisheries markets and management, but in recent years he focused on helping Alaskans understand the gravity of the fiscal crisis the state government faces.

Describing the prize as "a most pleasant surprise," Gunnar Knapp said, "I'm deeply gratified, and humbled, to be recognized in this way. I was privileged, throughout my career, to work with outstanding colleagues at ISER on ever-fascinating and important Alaska policy issues. I thank them for everything they taught me and all the ways they helped me—and for their continuing service to Alaska. It has been wonderful to be a part of UAA's growth into a thriving and vibrant university serving Alaskans in so many ways."

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Lunchtime Talk: The Alaska Energy Data Gateway: Bringing You More Information, More Easily

The Alaska Energy Data Gateway is an online database that ISER, the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at UAF, and other partner organizations established in 2011, to provide communities across Alaska with data they can use as they develop and improve their energy systems. Information in the database comes from many sources, can be downloaded in various file formats, and is mostly at the community level.

This summer Rachael Teter, an intern sponsored by First Alaskans Institute, has been working at ISER, updating and expanding the information available in the database. Kyle Borash, ISER's computer programmer, is developing an interactive map that will allow users to see at a glance what kinds of information are available for individual communities. That map will be launched on the data gateway in September. Join us at ISER to hear Rachael Teter and Kyle Borash discuss their work on the data gateway.


Download the presentation (PDF, 1.3MB)

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A Regional Assessment of Borough Government Finances and Employment

The state government provides considerable money to Alaska’s local governments—but so far there has been little analysis of how the precipitous decline in state revenues might affect local governments. A new report by Mouhcine Guettabi, an assistant professor of economics at ISER, assesses how much Alaska’s borough governments rely on state aid and considers how vulnerable they are to cuts in that aid.

The author found that overall, boroughs depend much more on state dollars now than they did 10 years ago—the average share of borough revenues coming from the state increased from 12% to 28% between 2005 and 2015. But he also shows that some boroughs rely much more than others on state money—and are therefore more vulnerable to inevitable cuts in state aid.

To learn more, download the report, A Regional Assessment of Borough Government Finances and Employment (PDF, 1.8MB). If you have questions, get in touch with Mouhcine Guettabi at mguettabi@alaska.edu or 907-786-5496.

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