Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic



This unique course is available to students at KTH and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

This summer course focuses on the changes taking place in the Arctic region in the context of climate change and global economic and political trends. Retreating ice sheets and glaciers, decreasing sea ice, changing seasonality of snow and ice, permafrost thaw and changing ecosystems characterize the present Arctic. These changes, with large potential feedbacks, have led to increased efforts by scientists to monitor the changes, explain their causes and predict their consequences. Simultaneously, climate change as well as changing global economic and political trends, have led to an increased economic interest in the Arctic. The decreasing summertime sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean has already offered new possibilities for shipping between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans along the northern coast lines of the Eurasian and North-American continents. In addition, global economic trends such as rising and falling world market prices for base metals as well as rare metals on the world market, has resulted in booms and busts in prospecting and mineral extraction across the Arctic region. Together these changes pose a challenge to all stakeholders in the region, from indigenous peoples and other local residents, municipal planners, to policy makers and economic actors on the regional, national and global scales. The changes also pose a challenge to students who wish to work for sustainable development in their careers. The course is organized by KTH, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and Stockholm University.

Organization and general outline

The objective of this course is to explore causes and consequences of the changes in the Arctic for society and the natural environment, and discuss possibilities to handle them in the future.

The course is divided into, 1) Lectures at KTH and 2) field work in Norrbotten – Sápmi (Arctic Sweden). The first part of the course consists of a series of lectures, museum visits and movies on the topic Arctic environmental and societal change. The field work includes visits to some of the largest open-pit and deepest underground mines in Europe, Aitik and Kirunavaara. We will hike in one of the most beautiful mountain areas in Sweden, walk on Sweden’s largest glacier and stay at a research station, Tarfala, with a view over Sweden’s highest summit, Kebnekaise.

Students need to have general entry requirements and 120 hp in one of the following fields: technology, natural science, architecture, history, environmental history, history of ideas, economic history, political science, anthropology, sociology, ethnology, literature, archaeology or human geography.

How to apply:

Students can apply on a separate form which can be acquired by sending an e-mail to changingarctic@abe.kth.se or downloaded from  here (pdf 151 kB) . OBS: THE ARCTIC COURSE WILL NOT TAKE PLACE IN 2017. NEXT TIME IT WILL BE GIVEN IN JUNE-JULY 2018. If you have questions regarding the Arctic course, please e-mail: changingarctic@abe.kth.se or call Dag Avango at +46 733 788 579


Students must be prepared to cover the expenses connected with the field component of the course. The cost can be as high as 11 500 sek. There are possibilities for students to apply for stipends.

Till sidans topp