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CFR Education


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Civics, Geography

Resource Types

  • Article
  • Worksheet
  • Activity - Classroom

Regional Focus

Global, Polar Regions



CFR Education: U.S. Arctic Policy Simulation

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  • This case study describes the tactical and economic implications of the Arctic sea ice melting and provides guidelines for students to discuss their thoughts on the best course of action.
  • Students will read the article and can then choose one of the three given courses of action to support in a class discussion.
Teaching Tips


  • This provides enough information for students to take a position on the topic, but encourages them to learn more about each option.
  • There is a wide range of discussion options to choose from.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students may need the terms icebreakers, infrastructure, fetter, diplomatic, and others defined, prior to reading the article.
  • Consider including background or supporting reading assignments prior to using this article for discussion.


  • Geography students can further discuss the advantages and drawbacks of an ice-free Arctic, then predict other changes and events that may occur as a result.
  • Geography students can also create a map, demonstrating the tactical and trade advantages an ice-free Arctic provides.
  • Students can research the types of resources that are becoming available for extraction in the Arctic and discuss the effects on global warming, wildlife habitat, water quality, and global ecosystems if they are used or extracted.
  • Students may benefit from a graphic organizer as they read and determine what stance they side with in the decision point.
Scientist Notes
This resource from the Council on Foreign Relations is a model diplomacy pop-up case that tasks students with discussing future U.S. Arctic policy. The resource includes an excellent two-page handout that provides background, identifies decisions, and then lists three policy options for students to consider. Several external resources are linked, and the handout does a great job of encouraging students to consider some combination of the three policy options, rather than presenting them as either/or scenarios. An excellent list of guidelines for structuring classroom discussions is provided. This resource provides students with an opportunity to discuss Arctic policy as if they were members of the National Security Council and it is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-2 Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.1.9-12 Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of local, state, tribal, national, and international civic and political institutions.
      • D2.Civ.11.9-12 Evaluate multiple procedures for making governmental decisions at the local, state, national, and international levels in terms of the civic purposes achieved.
      • D2.Civ.13.9-12 Evaluate public policies in terms of intended and unintended outcomes, and related consequences.
      • D2.Civ.14.9-12 Analyze historical, contemporary, and emerging means of changing societies, promoting the common good, and protecting rights.
      • D2.Civ.7.9-12 Apply civic virtues and democratic principles when working with others.
      • D2.Civ.9.9-12 Use appropriate deliberative processes in multiple settings.
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.10.9-12 Evaluate how changes in the environmental and cultural characteristics of a place or region influence spatial patterns of trade and land use.
      • D2.Geo.11.9-12 Evaluate how economic globalization and the expanding use of scarce resources contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among countries.
      • D2.Geo.9.9-12 Evaluate the influence of long-term climate variability on human migration and settlement patterns, resource use, and land uses at local-to-global scales.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
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