Growing international attention is focussed on the natural resources on land and at sea in the Barents Region. While economic prospects may be positive Northern Scandinavia and NW Russia have for long shown diminishing numbers of inhabitants. This and the social divides at national borders, but also people-to-people cooperation across them, adds to the need for multidisciplinary research in social and political science, focusing the natural and human environment of the north.

The Barents Institute (BAI) was established on 1st February 2006. Its working language is English. It has commenced its operation by engaging in several networks and joint research programmes with universities in the Barents Regions, and with institutes and universities in central Russia, southern Scandinavia and internationally. Memorandum of Understanding have been signed with the following Russian institutions: Murmansk State Pedagogical University, Kola Science Centre, Pomor State University, European University at St. Petersburg, Murmansk Academy of Business Management and on the 12th May 2008 with the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).

By now the BAI has advised and supported about ten master students, from all over Norway and from NW Russia, to do studies on the Barents Region based at their various home universities. The BAI‘s joint efforts include: research, higher education, outreach, and applications for additional funding. The BAI organises three to four conferences each year and its researchers contribute at many more meetings.

Kirkenes is situated on the coast of north easternmost Norway, close to Finland and on the border to Russia; Murmansk is the nearest city 250 km to the east. Kirkenes’ north Atlantic harbour is open year-round. It is a border–village (population 6000) in a multi-ethnic region at ancient cross-roads, with long traditions of local cooperation across national and cultural borders.

It has daily direct flights to Oslo and Tromsø  and bus and flight connections to Murmansk. It is within a day-trip by car from most destinations in the Kola Region of Northwest Russia. It is in a part of Norway with income tax reduction that offers out-door recreational activities such as cross-country skiing and excellent sport fishing.

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