“Immense interest in research”

“We want ‘our own’ to make up a larger percentage of the researchers conducting research in the country in the long run,” says Inge Høst Seiding, one of four board members from Greenland.


By Niels Ole Qvist

This article was originally published in the information newspaper “Forskning til alle” in collaboration between Arctic Hub and Sermitsiaq.AG.


When faced with the term, ‘polar research’, most people think of climate change. Ice, snow, darkness, and extreme cold. Researchers fighting for new insights into global warming in a merciless landscape.


But that’s not the only kind of research being conducted in Greenland.


Just ask the Head of Ilisimatusarfik, Inge Høst Seiding, who is appointed to the Arctic Hub board. She’s one of the Greenlandic members, and one of her roles will be to represent humanities research—disciplines like cultural studies, languages, anthropology, and history.


“Altogether, this is the least researched field in Greenland. But it’s also the one that seems most involved and intimate because it’s about people,” she says.


What do regular Greenlandic citizens stand to gain from Arctic Hub?

“Better insight into and ownership of the research that’s all about them, their society, and the nature around them,” Inge Høst Seiding replies and continues,


“Ideally, the knowledge they receive should be accessible in a relevant and useful way. This communication should start before the research commences, and it could even mean involving the citizens in the process. It might sound quite simple, but it’s absolutely essential—and it can be difficult to make it happen. But the Hub was created to facilitate that kind of impactful research, and the Hub will make every effort to move towards that model.”

Like supertankers

Inge Høst Seiding has made a similar observation to many others—interactions between inbound researchers and local communications are often severely limited.


“The general impression is that there’s a lot of researching in and about Greenland, and only a small proportion of that is created and used in conversation with the local society,” she notes.


But why is that?

“Research traditions are massive and heavy, like supertankers. It’s difficult to change course at a moment’s notice, not just because of the way researchers are trained but also because of the fierce competition for resources,” Inger Høst Seiding replies, conceding that changing the status quo is a complicated process.


“It’s about the way we train researchers and the requirements for ‘good research’ set out by universities and private funds. Then there’s the question of what we, as a society, consider good and relevant research practice. There are structural elements that are bigger than the individual researcher—a societal responsibility, so to speak. The Hub can help render those responsibilities visible and start a conversation—ideally, in its first year.”


According to Inge Høst Seiding, one area of focus could be creating a better overview of current research being conducted in Greenland and its impact on society and the individual.


“These are topics with which we need to engage as a society because we’re the subject of immense interest in research, and we must try to benefit as much from that as possible.”


“In my day-to-day work, I like to see experienced researchers giving back in the form of research-based education and inclusion of our students. We want ‘our own’ to make up a larger percentage of the researchers conducting research in the country in the long run. A positive development that’s already in progress,” Inge Høst Seiding elaborates.

First port of call

“I want the Hub to become the first port of call for researchers planning to conduct research in Greenland. Reaching out to the research environment in Greenland before getting started can make it easier for the researchers to live up to their good intentions, which usually include getting local researchers and citizens involved in their research. We want the Hub to be the place you come to discover what’s considered good research practice in Greenland, figure out which local authorities and researchers to contact, and get to grips with the relevant legislation.”


“Just having a manageable, well-written website with relevant documents and contact details can be a step in the right direction,” Inge Høst Seiding concludes.


The Hub is based in Nuuk. How do you see the Hub reaching out to more remote parts of the country and playing a role there?

“The Hub will work to create a framework and gather information, and for that, its physical location isn’t too important.”


“Personally, I look forward to shaping the Hub’s tasks in the coming years,” Inge Høst Seiding concludes.

Banner Inge Høst Seiding. Photo: Anne Chahine
1. Photo The local population must benefit from the results collected in Greenland. Photo by Leif Josefsen.
2. Photo (A man looking into the microscope) The locals are very interested in the fact that research can be translated to the benefit of society.