Arctic Circle is a network of international discourse on the future of the arctic, with annual forums at a rotating array of northern locales.Arctic Circle is a network of international discourse on the future of the arctic, with annual forums at a rotating array of northern locales. Credit: arcticcircle.org/assemblies/2017

REYKJAVÍC — Traveling as part of the approximately 30-member Maine delegation to the Assembly, COA professor Jay Friedlander gave talks on eco-tourism, academic exchange, and energy security in remote communities over the course of the three-day event.

“It was an incredible experience,” said Friedlander, who is the COA Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business. “To see both the similarities and the kinsmanship between people from Iceland and from Maine was amazing.”

Jay Friedlander, the <a href="/live/profiles/1131-jay-friedlander" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business</a> at College of the Atlantic, spoke at the 2017 Arctic Circle Forum in Reykjavíc, Iceland.Jay Friedlander, the Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business at College of the Atlantic, spoke at the 2017 Arctic Circle Forum in Reykjavíc, Iceland. Credit: Parker O'HalloranOver 2000 participants from more than 60 countries attended the 2017 Arctic Circle Assembly. The conference is the largest annual international gathering on the Arctic, attended by heads of states and governments, members of parliaments, scientists, business leaders, indigenous representatives, environmentalists, students, and others from the growing international community of partners and participants interested in the future of the region.

“It was an interdisciplinary conference, examining the Arctic Circle holistically, from an enterprise point of view, from the perspectives of indigenous and religious communities, from policy, and education – it was really looking at how you foster prosperity in all of these different areas,” he said.

As such, COA’s interdisciplinary approach to education struck a chord with many at the conference, Friedlander said.

“People were enthusiastic about the models we are using at COA and the potential to apply those to other universities,” he said. “Our pedagogy, combining theory and practice, as well as integrating local communities into the educational experience, resonated with the attendees and the goals of the Conference.”

Friedlander’s Abundance Cycle helps companies look at each aspect of their operations, uncover latent value and spur creativity. The model shows companies how to harness strengths and find new directions, while uniting people, profit and planet to unlock new opportunities. Friedlander has written about the Cycle in the Stanford Social Innovation Review and MIT Sloan Management Review, and uses the material within COA’s Diana Davis Spencer Hatchery sustainable business incubator.

<a href="/live/profiles/1812-hatchery">The Diana Davis Spencer Hatchery</a> is administered by College of the Atlantic's Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business Jay Friedlander. Students in the hatchery develop and launch financially and ecologically sustainable business models.The Diana Davis Spencer Hatchery is administered by College of the Atlantic's Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business Jay Friedlander. Students in the hatchery develop and launch financially and ecologically sustainable business models.“Usually people will look at individual aspects a problem, and the Abundance Cycle broadens the context and is applicable in a number of situations.” he said. “It was very well received. People wanted to schedule follow-up meetings with me to discuss how they could work with this system, and also about the sustainable business models at COA and how we are teaching socially responsible entrepreneurship.”

One thing that the conference made clear was that to create a robust and thriving Arctic Circle region, people must engage with multiple perspectives, Friedlander said. That this multi-disciplinary, pragmatic approach is being embraced by such an esteemed gathering reinforced the importance of COA’s similar approach to learning, and Friedlander was pleased to share COA’s approach with so many of the conference attendees.

COA’s educational approach clearly resonates with people at the leading edge of how to solve problems and create a more prosperous world” Friedlander said. “Just like we don’t have educational silos here, when you are dealing with the problems of the real world, you need to bring in all of these facets – so, part of what this tells me is that we are doing things the right way.”