Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

x Although Alaska may not be the foreign economy of other volumes of Perspectives, it certainly can feel that way within the context of the United States. As a prior Martindale student who moved to Alaska soon after graduating from Lehigh, I was thrilled to be able to help brainstorm ideas for research, the visit, speakers, and economic pinch points. The questions and interest from the students when I presented during the introductory speaker series showed me a group keen to learn about Alaska and its economy. Their chosen topics show that they engaged with a wide variety of issues important to the state. Having the Martindale students focus their unique perspectives on Alaska has generated an interesting series of articles. The analyses provided in this volume are an intersection of the challenges and opportunities facing the state that interest the next generation. How they view economic potential provides useful insight for our leaders. Climate change, sustainability, renewable resources, and technology are at the forefront of how these students believe Alaska can move forward. We should take note: the diversification of economic opportunities is critical to Alaska’s future. As one article details, overreliance on the extractive industries of oil, gas, and mining has led to instability in our state budget, endangering public resources. Developing a more sustainable budget for the long term will require a broader approach. Alaska has long been considered a frontier, and we take pride in doing things a little differently. The students have identified some unique market opportunities with promise beyond the status quo. These include mariculture, in the form of kelp harvesting; fisheries, by using adaptive management in changing waters; computing, specifically the prospect of energy-intensive data centers; and renewable energy, in the form of geothermal power generation. Each of these industries is still in its infancy, with creativity and ingenuity driving small businesses to try out new ideas. As another student reports, harnessing the ingenuity and creativity that many Alaskans consider part of our frontier character may be a key component to economic diversification. While there is considerable potential for Alaska, the students also identified some key roadblocks on the path toward a more diversified, sustainable economy. Education, the foundation to a strong economy, faces challenges in teacher recruitment, higher education availability, and student engagement. Challenges with education are exacerbated by a digital divide from lack of internet access in many areas. Transportation, which is critical to keeping the largest state in the US connected, relies heavily on aircraft and faces challenges with safety. Physical infrastructure and entire villages are facing damage due to climate change. The students have tackled these roadblocks with perceptive and welcome suggestions. I am thankful that these students have turned their attention to Alaska. Their research is timely and important. I am also grateful that they were able to travel to this great state and hope that they have been inspired to return either as tourists or workers. Olga Stewart '05 '06 Senior Environmental Engineer, Geosyntec Consultants Martindale Student Honors Program, 2004–05 (Spain) Anchorage, Alaska INTRODUCTION