Doctoral student researching Arctic governance awarded prestigious Trudeau Foundation scholarship

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A University of Waterloo student is the recipient of a prestigious Trudeau Foundation scholarship for her work on the future of Arctic governance.

Tahnee Prior, a global governance PhD student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, hopes to define a new governance framework that will address the emerging and complex issues caused by climate change, resource extraction, migration and potential inter-state conflict in the Arctic.


Trudeau Foundation Scholarships are the most prestigious award in Canada for doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences. Only 15 fellowships are given out nationally each year.

“This award is a shining example of how students at Waterloo apply a Canadian perspective to a complex problem in search of an outcome the whole world can use,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Waterloo. “Our entire community is enormously proud of Tahnee’s accomplishments – she stands with elite company as a Trudeau Scholar.”

With an annual value of up to $60,000 for a maximum of three years, the award also includes a mentorship component, and a separate annual travel allowance to support research-related travel and cover other networking, professional development and dissemination expenses.

A Q&A with Tahnee Prior

“The Trudeau Foundation provides a tremendous platform to share our interdisciplinary research, to collaborate with other researchers and, pushes us to engage with and translate our findings to the broader public,” said Prior. “This award allows me to do more in-depth empirical research in the circumpolar north, a crucial component of my doctoral work and a big obstacle for many Arctic social scientists today.”

Working under the supervision of Professor Neil Craik of the Faculty of Environment at Waterloo, Prior’s highly interdisciplinary research draws on complexity theory, environmental law, and the broader field of global governance in the Arctic.

Beyond her PhD work, Prior is a team member on Human Security as a Promotional tool for Societal Security in the Arctic, is a research assistant working on EU-Canada Arctic Strategies, and is collaborating with other Arctic scholars to develop a platform where individuals can share their research on women in the Arctic.

Outside academia, Prior was the global head of community engagement at the Sandbox Network, a community of young change makers who excel in their respective fields, from advocating for a human right to the internet to researching the economics of black market innovation. She sits on the board of advisors to the Youth Arctic Coalition, an independent global forum for youth to voice their concerns and collaborate to positively influence Arctic governance. 

“Ms. Prior’s work is a wonderful example of the leading-edge interdisciplinary research that our students are engaged in,” said John Ravenhill, director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs. “Her research is not only novel in its approach, but has the potential to influence significantly international cooperation in the world’s most ecologically sensitive regions.”

This is the second Trudeau Scholarship awarded to a doctoral student at the University of Waterloo since the start of the program in 2003. Then doctoral student Nora Doerr-MacEwen recieved the prestigious award in 2004.


The joint University of Waterloo-Wilfrid Laurier University PhD Global Governance program is an interdisciplinary program that draws on the core disciplines of History, Political Science, Economics and Environment Studies, as well as related disciplines.

Established in 2007, the Balsillie School of International Affairs is an equal collaboration among the Centre for International Governance Innovation Wilfrid Laurier University, and the University of Waterloo. See website for more information:

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Nick Manning
University of Waterloo

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