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AK1214 Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic 10.0 credits

AK1214 is a summer course, the aimed is students from KTH and the University of Illinois (Urbana Champaign). It is divided into several parts. Part 1 takes place at KTH and consists of a) lectures in the course's main themes (climate and environment, culture and society in the Arctic), b) seminars on course literature. Part 2 consists of intensive field work in the Arctic. During this period, students are trained in field research and collect data for an essay.

Course offering missing for current semester as well as for previous and coming semesters
Headings with content from the Course syllabus AK1214 (Spring 2013–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

AK1214 is a summer course, aimed at students from KTH, University of Illinois (Urbana Champaign) and other Swedish Universities. It is divided into three sections. Section 1 (mid June–early July) takes place at KTH and consists of A) a series of lectures which introduces the students to the themes of the course and B) seminars on literature and for preparing field work. Section 2 (mid July) consists of 10 days of intensive field work in the Arctic. In this period the students will be trained in field research and collect data for an essay. Section 3 (end of July) takes place at KTH and consists of seminars in which the students present their essays (examination tasks).

Intended learning outcomes

After the course, the student will be able to:

1. Recount major climatic and environmental changes in the Arctic, with a focus on the last 15.000 years

2. Interpret climate change within the specific cultural and historical context of the Nordic region

3. Describe and explain the main processes of societal change in the Nordic / European Arctic: Settlements and colonization, Development of scientific research, and Development of natural resource utilization industry and tourism.

4. Discuss the main changes in international politics and economics in the Arctic and its relation to scientific research, military strategies and indigenous peoples

5. Conduct basic field research through documentation of natural phenomena, cultural remains or by interviews

6. Perform simple research tasks by using and combining different types of sources (i.e. those mentioned under point 5) and present it in written and oral form

7. Critically analyze current events in the Arctic, in relation to the course contents.

Course disposition

The major learning activities are the following:

Lectures: 14 in section 1, six in section 2, normally lasting two hours.

Excursions: visits to museums in Stockholm, which in various ways deal with the Arctic.

Field work: The students will be trained in documentation of natural phenomena and cultural remains as well as interviewing, during a 10 day week field work period in the Arctic (northern Sweden or Svalbard). As a part of the field work, the students will collect data for use in their essays.

Seminars: The seminars will be in three different forms. In section 1 there will be literature seminars, devoted to discussing the course literature. In section 2 there will be field work seminars, focusing on the students findings during field work. In section three there will be essay seminars, devoted to presentations and discussions on the essays the students write.

Writing an essay: The students will write an essay on a topic they can choose from a given list of topics. The essay should be based on course literature, lectures as well as on data the students collect during the field work. The essay will be presented at a final seminar.

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Basic eligibility and 120 credits or the equivalent in one or more of the following disciplines:engineering, science, architecture,history,environmental history, history of ideas, economic history, political science, anthropology, sociology, ethnology, literature, archeology and cultural geography. Exceptions can be made for Swedish if the course is taught entirely in English.

If there are more eligible applicants than places a selection is carried out based on a merit rating. Calculation of merits  is based on the following criteria: 1) Education Background, where the breadth of the subjects studied is particularly meritorious, 2)grades, 3)motivation letter and 4)academic credits.

Recommended prerequisites

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Kursen behandlar pågående förändringsprocesser i Arktis, som för närvarande studeras av en bred och produktiv internationell polarforskning inom såväl naturvetenskapen som humaniora och samhällsvetenskap. Kurslitteraturen kommer att hämtas från fronten inom denna forskning, vilket gör att listan påkurslitteratur successivt kommer att förändras frånår tillår. Därför väljer vi att presentera kurslitteraturen senast tvåmånader före varje kursomgång, dels genom meddelanden och dokument påkursens hemsida, dels i utskick till kursdeltagarna.

Generellt kan sägas att kurslitteraturen kommer att hämtas i lika utsträckning från kursen tre huvudområden: 1) klimat- och miljöförändringar i Arktis, 2) Arktis i kultur och representation samt 3) vetenskap, industri och politik i Arktis.

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • INL1 - Essay, 10.0 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Examination: 1) active participation in discussions on the course literature and essays during the seminars and 2) writing and presenting the above mentioned essay.

Other requirements for final grade

Examination: 1) active participation in discussions on the course literature, field work results and essays during the seminars and 2) writing and presenting a final essay.

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Profile picture Nina Cyrén Wormbs

Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web AK1214

Offered by

ABE/History of Science, Technology and Environment

Main field of study


Education cycle

First cycle

Add-on studies

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Eric Paglia & Sofia Jonsson:

Supplementary information

You apply through a special link, recived by emailing When you apply you also need to write a motivational letter of max one page on why you want to take the course and your expectations of the outcome. More information on the webpage: