The training environment of NSERC PermafrostNet maximizes the research impact, professional development, career readiness and longer-term employability of its 60 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and northern research assistants. Students and trainees will forge a broad network of connections and benefit from diverse experiences through the network of 11 universities and more than 40 partnering organisations throughout Canada and internationally. Our training environment will be respectful, diverse, equitable and inclusive. Through the network, trainees will have improved access to specialised training such as field safety, wilderness first aid, diversity awareness and high-performance computing. To see our regularly updated list of opportunities click here

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Graduate students will be fully-funded for 12 months per year for full concentration on research and network activities and to reduce time to completion. This is important because the network training environment requires considerable time for interaction with other participants, for multi-disciplinary learning and the timely completion of outputs. Students and trainees are encouraged to engage with partners through internships, especially at northern locations, and the network will serve as a matchmaker.

We will provide adequate mentorship to all students/trainees. In this, northern mentorship and mentorship for women are considered especially important. Each student will be supported by an advisory group having academics from at least two institutions and two collaborators and, if possible, comprising more than one gender and academic background as well as a northern resident. Group mentoring will create opportunities for informal relationships to grow beyond teacher-student interaction. Groups will have multiple mentors and learners, and focus on topics such as publishing and authorship, career advancement, research in northern communities as well as equity and diversity.

The research program of PermafrostNet is based on collaboration between disciplines, institutions, sectors and ways of knowing – and this provides valuable experience-based learning for students and trainees. In addition to dedicated internal communications, network meetings and international collaboration, joint fieldwork and the shared Permafrost Data Science Platform for data analysis and simulation will provide interfaces for students/trainees to work together and to interact with partners.

Initiatives such as workshops organised by students or engagement in international organisations for young researchers are encouraged and supported where appropriate and possible. At network annual meetings, students/trainees will show their research plans and progress, including a plain language summary, to a diverse multi-sectorial audience. This will develop presentation skills in an environment not usually available to students and provide them with valuable feedback from the entire network. In a final capstone event of PermafrostNet, network students/trainees will jointly organise a major event for interaction with stakeholders and policymakers.

Students and trainees will have access to specialised training, for example on field safety, wilderness first aid, webinars of the Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative, specific training on field or laboratory methods, or training for high-performance computing and software carpentry.

PermafrostNet will foster a work culture that favours respect, inclusion, empowerment, empathy and allyship. All participants will be encouraged to take online awareness trainings including Gender-based Analysis Plus, unconscious bias training and addressing unconscious bias via modern learning. Those who are directly supervising HQPs will be required to complete these trainings in the first year of the network. At the first network meeting, participants involved in supervision will be led through the Power Flower Exercise to reflect on their privilege and opportunities for allyship. To improve the understanding about our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, the network will organise KAIROS® Blanket Exercises, delivered without faith-specific context, at selected network meetings. Research with communities will be guided with appropriate training and obtain direct advice from participants experienced in working with Indigenous communities and traditional knowledge. Given the serious concerns that have emerged about harassment and assault during field work internationally during recent years, we will serve as an international leader in designing, implementing and disseminating best practices that directly address these barriers to inclusion and respect. These initiatives will be guided by the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee as part of network governance. We will use an annual survey to allow all members of PermafrostNet to anonymously self-identify if they wish to, and to provide feedback on the network’s efforts to be an inclusive and psychologically safe environment for all.