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Victoria Herrmann

Victoria Herrmann

Gates Cambridge Scholar, PhD Candidate

Victoria is interested in exploring the nexus of climate change, human development, and public policy in the Arctic. Her PhD research focuses on how images and aesthetic codes construct values, identities, and ideas of power in the Arctic since the Second World War, using Alaska as a case study.



  • 2014 - 2018 (Expected), University of Cambridge. PhD Candidate, Scott Polar Research Institute. Gates-Cambridge Scholar. Thesis: "Art, Technology, and Agency in Arctic Governance & Development."
  • 2013 - 2014, Carleton University summa cum laude. MA, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. Fulbright Scholar. Thesis: "Solar in the Shadows: Renewable Energy in Harper's Oil State."
  • 2008 - 2012, Lehigh University summa cum laude. BA, International Relations & Art History


  • 2015—Present: President & Managing Director, The Arctic Institute. Direct research, events, media inquiries, and partnerships for the Institute; research and write on human development, climate change, culture, and relocation.
  • 2014—2015: US Director, The Arctic Institute. Researched and published on human development, climate adaptation, and resiliency in the Arctic. Directed North America events, networks, and research agendas.
  • 2012—2013: Junior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Researched and co-authored articles and a major report on national policy of urban mobility, planning, and climate change.
  • 2010—2012: Delegate to United Nations, Tarumitra. Represented and fostered collaborations for environmental NGO at UN ECOSOC and DPI briefings and conferences; wrote and presented climate and environmental reports.

Honours & awards

  • 2016 MIT Climate CoLab Finalist
  • 2016 National Geographic Explorer
  • 2014 Gates Cambridge Scholar
  • 2014 Philip Lake Award, Cambridge University
  • 2014 B.B. Roberts Award, Cambridge University
  • 2013-2014 Fulbright Canada
  • 2012-2013 Carnegie Junior Fellowship
  • 2012 Higher Achievement Mentor of the Year for Washington, DC
  • 2012 Alumni Merit Scholar
  • 2012 Oles M. Smolansky Excellence in International Relations Award
  • 2012 Williams Prize in Scholastic Writing
  • 2011 Percy Hughes Award for Scholarship, Humanity, and Social Change
  • 2011 First Place, Baker Institute Eureka! Social Venture Competition
  • 2008 -2012 Lehigh Eckardt Scholar


Victoria's PhD research aims to demonstrate that images and aesthetic codes construct values, identities, and ideas of power in the international system. The dissertation will analyze the extent to which the visual narratives constructed by Arctic state and, increasingly, non-state actors have conditioned changing international perceptions of the region's legitimate power structure since the end of the Second World War. It asks how have various state and non-state actors used visual representations of polar technologies to legitimize their right to development and governance in the Arctic? As a subsidiary question, it asks what extent have these visual representations and consequent actions affected the political agency of those peoples native to the Arctic in issues of governance and development of their lands?

She is involved in research and analysis for The Arctic Institute as the President & Managing Director, focusing on human development policy and built environment design in the Arctic. She also writes on the politics and policies of the US Chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2015-2017).

Broad research interests:

  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation policy and design
  • Indigenous agency and knowledge
  • Visual narratives, aesthetic codes, and the history of art
  • International relations, geopolitics, and resource development

Current research projects

  • Co-Convenor | Pocantico Climate & Cultural Heritage Working Group. Convene working group of high-level cultural heritage leaders engaged in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. Organize events and create growing database of cultural adaptation projects worldwide.
  • National Geographic Explorer | America's Eroding Edges. Lead researcher on two-year storytelling project to document American communities at-risk of sea level rise for qualitative database of community impacts. Outputs include articles, book, documentary, and website,
  • Principle Investigator | Micro-grids, Macro-projects, & Arctic Renewable Energy .Lead on creating a bilateral expert network to research and publish on renewable energy innovation in the North American Arctic, funded by US Embassy to Canada and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
  • Research Affiliate | Politics of Postcolonial Sustainability in the Arctic. Research and published on the inequalities of energy development in Alaska as part of a wider research project hosted by the University of Copenhagen and funded by the VELUX Foundation.

Past research projects

  • Research Assistant | Borders in Globalization. Researched and published on Alaskan and Canadian climate change impacts and adaptation efforts in North America with scholars from 22 international universities in the Arctic working group.


Peer-reviewed publications

  • Herrmann, V. (June 2017) The Perils and Price of a Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Sovereignty in the Arctic. POLITIK (accepted).
  • Herrmann, V. (April 2017). America's First Climate Change Refugees: Victimization and Empowerment in Journalistic Storytelling. Energy Research and Social Science Journal (accepted).
  • Herrmann, V. (November 2016). Investing in Community: Conceptualizing Inclusive School Design for America's Arctic. Polar Geography (Vol. 39:4).
  • Herrmann, V. (November 2016). Layered Landscapes: Arctic Climate Change and Indigenous Agency in the Age of the Anthropocene. The Polar Law Yearbook (Vol. 7).
  • Herrmann, V. (January 2016). The Cold War of Global Warming: Recycled Visual Narratives from the Top of the World. Polar Geography (Vol. 38:4).
  • McCorristine, S. and Herrmann, V. (November 2015). The 'Old Arctics': notices of Franklin Search expedition veterans in British press: 1876-1934. Polar Record (Vol. 39:4).

Media appearances

  • BBC
  • Washington Post
  • CNN
  • NPR On Point
  • Radio Canada
  • Politico
  • New York Times
  • Reuters
  • The Guardian Al Jazeera
  • Alaska Dispatch
  • Yale Climate Connections
  • Monocle Radio
  • Conversations with Creative Woman Chicago Progressive Radio
  • Planning Magazine
  • Christian Science Monitor
  • Yahoo News
  • Business Insider


  • 2010-2012. Teaching Assistant, Introduction to International Relations, Lehigh University.