This project examines education and community viability in Western Alaska by identifying a cross-section of youth and young adults across the Bering Sea region who have pursued post-secondary educational opportunities facilitated by the Community Development Quota (CDQ) program. The overarching research question is: Do opportunities in post-secondary education for youth contribute to the viability of Bering Sea communities and way of life? ?Viability? is defined by the degree to which a community can balance in- and out-migration, sustain a context of livelihood diversification, and create bridges to resources external to the community. In this project, the investigators propose to administer a survey to a random sample of scholarship and training grant recipients who received their awards between 2000 and 2005, conduct focused group interviews with current students, and develop regional profiles to understand if and how post-secondary educational opportunities affect Alaska?s rural youth and their communities.

The investigators anticipate the project as designed will help identify the most effective strategies and pathways to success youth in Western Alaska coastal communities have employed and the ways in which this success may benefit their home communities. Specifically, the research is aimed to uncover the contexts in which Alaska youth can assume leadership, citizenship, and stewardship community roles in the future. By examining the context of how educational opportunities bridge Bering Sea youth and young adults with external resources or those beneficial to community viability, this research will help elucidate the ways in which the kinds of educational experiences the CDQ program provides is important not only for rural Alaska, but how the CDQ model might potentially have wider arctic or global applicability in other regions where there is large scale resource development juxtaposed to rural communities struggling with economic development.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Polar Programs (PLR)
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Anna Kerttula de Echave
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University of Alaska Anchorage Campus
United States
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