NVP International Summer school 2021 – Global Arctic

An interdisciplinary PhD and Post-Doc summer school in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Hosted by the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research (NVP), in cooperation with the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) and the Nansen Scientific Society.

  • Venue: UNIS – University centre in Svalbard, Longyearbyen, Svalbard.
  • Time: TBA

The term “Global Arctic” is gaining currency in contemporary debates about how the Arctic and the rest of the world are interconnected. Academics use the term to show how what happens in the Arctic has global implications, as well as how events in other parts of the world impact the Arctic. Modern phenomena such as globalization, climate change and transboundary pollution have brought the Arctic into global webs of science, commerce, security and geopolitics. In the Arctic as elsewhere the first law of geography is applying: Everything is related to everything else, but close things are more related than distant things. To identify and discuss the points of connections within and across the natural-, social- and humanistic sciences is the intrinsic core of the term Global Arctic and also the working mode of the Summer school.

The concept of a Global Arctic has recently gained in political significance testing the strength of circumpolarity as the defining ordering principle of Arctic affairs. The more this principle is employed, the more likely it is that non-Arctic states, like China, Japan, Great Britain, South Korea etc. will be able to justify a greater presence in the Arctic across a range of commercial, scientific, environmental, indigenous, local and other interests, in particular those that touch on global issues such as international law, trade and the management of resources and global commons. The complexity, magnitude and interconnections of the involved interests call for measures of protection, stimulating processes of regional militarization and securitization. The recognition that “what happens in the Arctic will affect the world, and what happens in the world will affect the Arctic” is increasingly seen as a justification by numerous non-Arctic states to enter into polar geopolitics affecting the existing governance regime of the region.

Scientists continue to discover new connections between the Arctic and the world beyond, but theories concerning the importance of the Arctic to the earth systems are old, dating back at least 200 years. Thus, the Global Arctic is bringing to life connections known from historic discovery as well as searching for fresh interrelations of contemporary and future interests. The opening up of the Arctic to human exploration and exploitation contain stimuli that may promote future northward migrations blending cultures of multiple origins and creativity.
When discussing energy in the Arctic it is most commonly referred to the US Geological Survey assessment report form 2008 where it is stated that the Arctic may contain almost one-quarter of the world´s undiscovered reserves of oil and gas.

It has up to now been assumed that the future fossil fuel resources maybe in the Arctic region, and that we have the technology to develop resources in the Arctic in a safe and sustainable way.

With the Paris agreement, a rapid global energy transaction away from fossil fuels will have to take place to avoid a global temperature rise of more than 2 C, and to meet this goal it is being more unlikely day for day that all these reserves in the Arctic will ever be developed.
Which energy alternatives are economically viable and technologically feasible when the energy transition is speeding up? Will a combination of solar and wind power, supplied with hydro, wave and geothermal energy be a solution?

The development of renewables in the Arctic should be significantly strengthened as in the rest of the world. It is believed that Investments in the renewable energy sector will provide an enormous possibility for Arctic communities to create new economic and business opportunities addressing local energy needs. This again will increase quality of life and human security in the Arctic as well as a contribution to meet national emission goals.

The NVP’s 2021 Summer school aims to produce a better understanding of the significance of the concept, Global Arctic as a tool of integrative analysis and political management, as well as inviting novel ideas for research and learning coming from students taking part from inside and outside of the Arctic.

The following topics will form the final program:

  1. Inter-and transdisciplinarity in polar research: Why, What and When?.
  2. Arctic resilience.
  3. The new arctic: The establishment of arctic governmental and scientific cooperations.
  4. The Arctic Council Regime: Geographical reach and Global impact.
  5. The Concepts of the Arctic: Topological and topographical Challenges and Consequences.
  6. The Arctic Eight, the Arctic Five and Non-Arctic states. The cases of Iceland, the Arctic Circle, Permanent participants and the “Network of the Marginalized.”
  7. Interactions between climate change and sea ice in the arctic – present and future
  8. The effects of climate change on arctic ecosystems and society.
  9. Asia’s interests in the Arctic.
  10. Traditional (arctic) and scientific (global) knowledge as instruments of regional management and decision-making).
  11. The interplay between global and regional instruments or regulations – The law of the sea as an instrument of regulating the arctic ocean.
  12. Will the new ‘Mediterranean’ need a new governance regime – The Politics of Geographical Definitions in the Arctic; Internal and External Challenges?.
  13. Energy in the Arctic in a sustainable perspective.
  14. Discussion panel – Local perspectives from Longyearbyen actors.

Open lectures:

  • The Svalbard Treaty. From Terra Nullius to Norwegian Sovereignty.
  • Change is the Constant – future environmental policy and governance challenges in Svalbard.

The students of different disciplinary backgrounds will publish the results of their work at the Summer school in a joint peer reviewed article published in an international journal of high academic standard.

The summer school’s main target group is PhD students and Post-docs. In some cases, students with a MSc degree or equivalent and with special professional qualifications, for example from the private sector industry or from other relevant institutions, may also participate. The relevance of current studies, including personal motivation and relevant experiences are important selection criteria.

The participants must cover their own transportation to and from Longyearbyen, Svalbard and accommodation and most meals during their stay. Participation at the summer school is free and the Academy will organize the student accommodation in cooperation with the Arctic Student Welfare Organisation to guarantee relative lower prices, during the scheduled stay in Svalbard. Some self catering is possible at the accommodation facilities.

Up to 25 students from different countries and with different expertise and experience will be selected. Applications shall include a CV and a letter which describes a rationale and justification for the application. A tentative title of a poster to present current studies / projects should be included in the application.

For additional information, see NVP’s webpage:

Contact for the summer school 2021 is NVP’s Office Manager Jorge Kristiansen, e-mail post@polar-academy.com, telephone +47 455 19 649

Documents and links

Announcement – Full text

Announcement – short version