BIDDEFORD — The University of New England has been welcomed as the newest member of the University of the Arctic, a cooperative network of universities, colleges, research institutes and other organizations concerned with education and research in the peoples and places in the “New North.”

UNE joined the group Monday and will engage in all University of the Arctic programs, including the north2north student mobility program which allows UNE students to apply for exchange grants to fund study at any of the participating UArctic institutions.

In addition, UNE faculty and researchers will be able to participate and take leading roles in vibrant thematic working groups from participating institutions focusing on a range of topics, from Arctic environmental, marine, and social-political sciences to distance education and social work.

According to UNE President Dr. James Herbert, demographic, geographic, climatic, and cultural similarities between Maine and the North Atlantic/Nordic states have created a need and enthusiasm for impactful regional relationships that can support thriving and sustainable communities and economies.

“Joining the University of the Arctic is an exciting next step in utilizing both UNE’s expertise and curiosity to explore ways to help shape Maine’s and the Arctic region’s vibrant future,” Herbert said.

Through building and strengthening collective resources and providing a collaborative infrastructure and forging global partnerships, the University of the Arctic promotes thriving and sustainable communities and economies in the northern region of the world.

UNE is the first university in Maine to become a member of the organization, which includes nearly 200 schools from around the globe in bringing its education, research and outreach strengths to bear on issues unique to the developing North.

Barry Costa-Pierce, Ph.D., UNE Doherty Professor of Marine Sciences and executive director of UNE’s newly founded Institute for North Atlantic Studies, UNE NORTH, said that the opportunity for students to gain knowledge and expertise in subjects directly pertaining to the circumpolar region is significant given the increasing role that region is playing on the world stage.

“Over the next 50 years, every nation on Earth will be impacted by the rapid changes occurring in the Arctic and North Atlantic,” Costa-Pierce said. “This region will be a key player in world commerce, so expertise in Arctic issues will be a tremendous asset to students in several cross-disciplinary, transdisciplinary fields who hope to make progress on critical global sustainability development goals.”

He said that “being part of the University of the Arctic opens doors for UNE students and faculty to study all of the great issues of the present and the future that pertain to the region and to study them specifically through an Arctic/North Atlantic/Nordic lens.

“The ability to take UArctic courses as uniquely tailored as Arctic Vegetation, Arctic Shipping, Arctic Marine Biology, Sociology of the North as well as courses in the languages of the various Arctic nations will be instrumental in UNE students’ education and will greatly influence their career paths,” Costa-Pierce said.

University of New England is Maine’s largest private university, featuring two distinctive campuses in Biddeford and Portland, along with a campus in Tangier, Morocco, and an array of offerings online.

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