- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Students Build StoryMaps, Camaraderie at 2022 Arctic Data Stories Workshop

Featured in the Spring 2022 Newsletter »

On a brisk Sunday morning in late March, nineteen students from Harvard and the greater Boston area boarded a bus to Woodwell Climate Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for the final session of the second annual Arctic Data Stories Workshop. After weeks of lectures and group work, plus an intensive “hackathon” the day before, they were eager to present their interactive StoryMaps to an audience of experts on Arctic climate science, policy, and communication.

For the second year running, the Belfer Center’s Arctic Initiative teamed up with Woodwell Climate Research Center and Esri to co-organize Arctic Data Stories, an intensive workshop designed to let students explore the interaction between geospatial data and policy while providing them practical training in ArcGIS software. Beginning in February, the participants devoted five Fridays to listening to renowned experts on Arctic climate science and policy, mapping, and science communication, including Jennifer Watts, Darcy Peter, Stefano Potter, Greg Fiske, and Carl Churchill from Woodwell; Esri’s Dawn Wright and Allen Carroll; and Arctic Initiative Senior Fellow Fran Ulmer and Research Fellow Nadezhda Filimonova

“The workshop’s goal was to advance students’ skills in communicating Arctic science for diverse audiences using storytelling and data visualization. My personal hope was for students to think of the ways they can apply the received knowledge either in their studies or professional work and to become more involved with Arctic research,” said Nadezhda Filimonova, the lead workshop organizer from Harvard Kennedy School. 

In addition to the structured discussions with guest experts, students formed small groups to create StoryMaps, web-based narratives that contextualize geography, on a specific Arctic policy question of their choosing. Topics ranged from the retreat of Arctic sea ice to marine biodiversity conservation to the social impacts of permafrost thaw.

Equally diverse were the workshop participants themselves: hailing from nine countries and a variety of backgrounds, this year’s cohort included students from Harvard Kennedy School, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Education, Harvard Business School, and five other universities, as well as a high school science teacher, a children’s book author, and an engineer.

Meet the 2022 Arctic Data Storytellers:


According to Kennedy School student Isaac Kim, the breadth of professional experience within his group and the interdisciplinary nature of the workshop led him and his teammates to take a more holistic view of the Alaskan energy transition. “From consulting to research in rare earth minerals to innovative research technology, we each brought different perspectives to working through the issues related to a clean energy transition. These differences pushed our conversation to consider questions of justice for Alaskan Native communities, environmental impacts, feasibility of mining, and governance structures.”

After two years of virtual learning and programming due to the pandemic, the workshop and visit to Woodwell’s campus also represented a welcome opportunity to strengthen camaraderie between young scholars with a shared interest in the Arctic. 

“I really enjoyed working with a diverse team of people—our different experiences were all very valuable in coming together with a story,” said participant Lesley Anderson, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress. “I loved being able to be around other people who love the Arctic!”

Brittany Janis, Associate Director of the Arctic Initiative and workshop co-organizer, echoed Anderson’s sentiment: “It was amazing to see the level of community and dedication that was built by the end of the workshop. It built a great community of young leaders who will hopefully keep collaborating long after their projects are done.”

View the StoryMaps

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

"Students Build StoryMaps, Camaraderie at 2022 Arctic Data Stories Workshop." Belfer Center Newsletter. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. (Spring 2022)

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