Course description

There is a pressing need for an improved, more nuanced and complex, geopolitical and security understanding in the Arctic, that includes both state and non-state actors. This need has been brought home time and time again, particularly most recently with the speculation surrounding the actions and activities of Russia and China. What are the prevailing agendas, and who has influence on these?

During the Cold War, the Arctic was about a reified notion of security and geopolitics that was the purview of high politics and national interests. Security was about the protection of the state, through the use of military means. Geopolitics focused on the balances of power between states as states appeared to jockey for the best position globally in relation to their national interests. State interests and these narrow (classic) assumptions about geopolitics still remain, but the playing field has drastically changed. Non-state actors ranging from local communities to industries, to non-governmental organizations, and further to regional and international institutions, have demonstrated that they all have interests and roles to play in the future of the Arctic. The concept of security has (rightfully) been challenged by those who have been excluded, and now includes perspectives about the future that challenge state and classic political posturing. International institutions like the Arctic Council have been designed to include the voices of non-state actors, not least indigenous peoples, sending a message that debates about Arctic Futures are not exclusive to the state. Most recently, the rhetoric about the Arctic has been captured by narrow security and geopolitical interpretations that look to Russia as a new challenge, wishing a return to its role as a superpower. In reality this posturing is complex, and extractive industries play a fascinating and central role in the ways in which Arctic nations negotiate new spaces.

Papers/presentations will explore the relationships between state, industry and community in Arctic regions. Presentations will look at the power dynamics behind the development of extractive industries, both decision-making with regard to relevant legal codes, but with a focus on who/what (state? Non-state actors like Industry, non-governmental organizations? Communities and then who in communities?) decides how law is formulated and why. Additionally papers can explore who/what is determined as a legitimate actor in these processes, and what happens in the event of competing values around either extractives (primarily economic benefits, both to local communities but also to the state not least with regard to energy security but also geopolitical positioning) or cultures that rely on a protected (rather than exploited) environment? How do local actors influence these processes, or do they? And if they do, who are the local actors that gain the power to participate in these processes and why? Are they considered legitimate by all (particularly in local communities) or not and why? How do local actors work with the state, and to what degree are they either separate/independent from the state, or not? How are political actors in the state-industry-community nexus influencing broader governance strategies and law-making and geopolitics in the Arctic regions?

Location: Nuuk, Greenland
Organizer: UiT The Arctic University of Norway jointly with University of Lapland
Course code: TBA (UiT) / TUKO 1217
Coordinators: Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv and Florian Stammler

Any and all interested PhD and Masters students are welcome to apply. Students in funding partner countries (Norway, Canada, USA, Russia, China, Denmark, Finland) are eligible for funding – the number of funded participants will be limited to the funding available. All applications will be considered on the basis of three criteria

  • quality of the application
  • relevance of the application to the programme and course topic
  • possible previous participation (to complete the UArctic certificate program)

If you want to apply, please provide the following to and

  1. letter of motivation (why you want to go there and how is this related to your work)
  2. CV
  3. abstract of paper / chapter to be presented there, can be a draft article, a draft chapter, a draft research plan.
  4. short ouline of your PhD or M.A. topic (surely you have that, just send it along)
  5. scan of your passport, home address and telephone, for those who need a visa

If you send us items 1-5 before the deadline, your application will enter the selection pool for funded participation.