Friday, August 9, 2013

Visiting Store Norske

Today, we started the day with sharing our observations, analyses and interpretations of the built environment of Longyearbyen. Most project groups compared Pyramiden and Longyearbyen, stressing differences such as the fact that Pyramiden is a carefully planned city, while Longyearbyen is more a result of the shifting main locations of Store Norske's mining operations. Other differences are the choices of building materials. Students had also interviewed cruise ship tourists about their impressions of the Arctic region.

After lunch, we moved to the harbour area to visit Store Norske, which is the only Norwegian mining company active in Spitsbergen today. Store Norske has been operating since 1916. Malte Jochmans, a senior geologist of the company, warmly welcomed the group and shared his knowledge and insights into Store Norske's present mining activities and its visions of the future. According to Jochman, the company’s main goals are to exploit the coal in a safe and profitable manner and to match the high environmental expectations from governing bodies and public opinion. So far the company projects their production until 2030, but their visions of the future also includes the idea of turning Svalbard into a hub for Arctic Ocean shipping.

We ended the day by studying and analyzing the exhibition at the Svalbard museum, under the guidance of museum director Tora Hultgren. Most course participants spent the evening preparing for presenting their essay projects.

Photo credit: Swedish Polar Research Secretariat

This article is one in a series of blog entries written by University of Illinois students who traveled during summer 2013 to Stockholm, Sweden and Svalbard, Norway to participate in the interdisciplinary course, “Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic,” provided by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and co-organized with KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Course participants from both universities learn about issues related to climate change and the Arctic, capped by an excursion to conduct field research near the Arctic Circle. This program is partially supported by the European Union Center through a European Union Center of Excellence grant, and is an initiative of the Illinois-Sweden Program for Educational Research Exchange (INSPIRE). Student blog entries also appear on the web site of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat


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