A Changing Arctic summer school

An interdisciplinary master's level course that combines Natural Sciences, Law and Social Sciences to explore the environmental, legal, and political changes in the Arctic region. Participants will learn about current issues involving the Arctic’s changing environment and how this impacts the legal framework provided by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The course also explores how this may generate new opportunities, risks, and governance challenges for Arctic states, companies and non-Arctic stakeholders.

Course content

The Arctic region has gained increased public, political, commercial and academic interest over the last decade. High-energy prices and technological advances have made it possible, if not yet commercially attractive, to exploit petroleum resources in the area. Climate change and the retraction of the polar ice have opened new sea transportation routes, considerably shortening the distance from Europe and North America to parts of Asia. The demand for high-quality white fish from the Barents Sea is steadily rising on international markets. States, international organizations and private interests, including emerging economies in Asia, now show a keen interest in the High North and the Arctic at large.

Partly as a consequence of these developments, several new and demanding governance challenges have emerged. Environmental risks have moved high up on the agenda. Effects of climate change threaten the traditional livelihoods of indigenous populations and may lead to significant changes in the migration patterns of important fish stocks. These and other changes may generate conflict but also strengthen incentives for cooperation. In this course we study these challenges from a natural science as well as a legal and a geopolitical perspective.

The students will learn about the geography and geology of the present day Arctic region and discuss possible scenarios of its geological evolution, including the formation of mineral resources. In this context, we will review the knowledge about the Arctic climate, and how its variations in the past allowed the formation of completely different vegetation and fauna. The legal component will address issues related to jurisdiction, sovereignty and human rights whereas geopolitics is about the interplay of natural resources, strategic dominance and geographic space on the one hand, and the various state and non-state actors pursuing individual as well as collective interests on the other.


A limited number of participants will be eligible for financial support to attend this six-week course.

More information

Contact the International Summer School at iss@admin.uio.no or (+47) 22 85 63 85 for more information.

Course details

Academic level(s)Master
Language of instructionEnglish
InstitutionUniversity of Oslo
Begin date25.06.2016
End date05.08.2016
Registration deadline15.03.2016
ECTS credits15.0
Field schoolYes
Fields of studyBasic/broad, general programmes
Teaching placeOslo, Norway
Tagsfield schoolclimatemultidisciplinarysummer schoollawgeologygeopolitics
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