Sappho Z. Gilbert, Jade B. Owen & Jamal Shirley

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Within days, societies across the globe saw their schools, offices, and even borders closed. As in other regions, countless research projects in the Arctic were forced to come to a halt. For studies involving fieldwork, human subjects, and/or travel, the shift to work from home initially offered little productive potential. After a largely lost research season—which, for some, turned into two or more—studies across the circumpolar north have since returned. In certain parts of the Arctic, like the Canadian territory of Nunavut, research activities are now peaking once again. This has raised concerns about the research-associated burdens that communities may face amid this resurgence. Ethically conducted, locally partnered research can result in timely, co-produced knowledge that fills critical evidence gaps about the North. However, these benefits must be newly evaluated and weighed against their potential costs, with renewed perspective on how to best manage this influx—particularly as Arctic research conditions continue to evolve.

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