HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — Scholars at Dartmouth College and the University of Alaska Fairbanks have been chosen by the U.S. State Department to help lead a new initiative to address issues faced by Arctic governments and people.

Ross Virginia of Dartmouth and Mike Sfraga of the University of Alaska will serve as “distinguished scholar leaders” of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative, guiding advanced research and collaborative study on topics such as climate change, energy, health and infrastructure.

The 18-month project starts in May 2015 and will provide funding for 16 scholars from the eight countries that make up the Arctic Council: Canda, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian federation, Sweden, the United States and Denmark, which also represents Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

Virginia, a professor of environmental sciences, and Sfraga, a vice chancellor and professor of Arctic policy, will work with the State Department to set goals and select scholars for the initiative.

“The challenge for this Fulbright program is to ask questions that are relevant to solving these problems,” Virginia said. “We need to develop research questions and themes for these teams of scholars that generate knowledge that will be useful to policymakers.”

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