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Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic

This unique course is an excellent opportunity for students at KTH and UIUC to study, from a variety of perspectives and disciplines, the transformational changes currently taking place across the Arctic region.

What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic

This oft-repeated mantra reflects the increasing international interest that has in recent years turned the Arctic into a region of great geopolitical significance. As global climate change radically alters the Arctic environment, including thawing permafrost and the extent of summer sea ice, countries and companies from the circumpolar North and around the world are positioning themselves to benefit from economic opportunities such as resource extraction, tourism and trans-Arctic shipping, and to secure a political voice in shaping the future of the strategic Arctic region. At the same time, scientific interest is also increasing, as are calls for environmental protection and sustainable development in the face of the profound local, regional and global effects of climate change, and the growing impacts of expanding economic activity and infrastructure development upon fragile Arctic ecosystems. 

Organization and general outline

The 2022 summer course Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic, arranged by the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology together with University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), provides students with a broad understanding and historical perspective on the array of issues and processes that are today transforming the circumpolar North, from the level of individual communities to regional governance and great power geopolitics. This unique course is an excellent opportunity for students at KTH and UIUC to study, from a variety of perspectives and disciplines, the transformational changes currently taking place across the Arctic region. 

The course consists of classroom instruction at KTH in Stockholm and six days of fieldwork in and around the Swedish Arctic city of Kiruna, where students will visit active and abandoned mining sites, major infrastructure systems such as hydropower plants, and landscapes centered on tourism and traditional activities such as reindeer herding. The northern reaches of Sweden are currently in the early stages of a boom cycle of new industrial activity, renewable energy projects, and an increase in resource exploitation, particularly mining. Like in earlier periods of economic expansion, some new initiatives have been met with resistance from certain regional stakeholders, including indigenous Sami communities whose livelihoods are threatened by large scale projects that are likely to have significant environmental impacts on reindeer herding areas in northern Fennoscandia. Such tensions and eventual tradeoffs encapsulate some of the megatrends of the modern Arctic, and thus provide students with an opportunity to study and experience first hand the dynamics of change in the region as a whole.

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.

Important!

This course is open to students from KTH and The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). No external students are admitted.

The course is covered by a tuition fee for those KTH students who are liable to pay. However, the course can be included in the already paid tuition fee for the program, if it is included in the study plan as an elective course. Please talk to your study counselor to get information what applies in your specific case.

Each student is expected to pay 2500 sek. This is to cover some of the costs of travel and accomodation. 

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Belongs to: Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment
Last changed: Mar 31, 2022