Saturday, June 25, 2016

Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic Field Notes: Week 2 at KTH Royal Institue of Technology

Image courtesy of Wikimedia
Here you can read about the Arctic course taking place in the summer of 2016! The participating students from KTH Royal Institute of Technology together with the students of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are writing about their experiences throughout the course.

By Karl Blomgren and Katherine Limes

This week, we started to get into the real material of the course. On Monday and Tuesday, we talked about the history of the arctic - beginning with a general orientation to the Arctic on Monday (and an introduction to the essay topics for our final projects), and then a discussion of the human history of the Arctic.

We talked a lot about the exploitation of the Arctic by humans, what resources were there and how we utilized them (including a discussion on what a resource actually is), and a discussion of the history of humans in the Arctic, from ancient times to the present. We talked about the earliest settlers of the Arctic, and were introduced to some of the major schools of thought in archaeology. We then covered our essay topics, which were mostly to do with the effects of the modern usage of the Scandinavian Arctic on the Arctic as it is today, and as it will be in the future. On Tuesday, we covered some of the modern uses for the Arctic, including resource extraction and science. At the end of the lecture, we had an exercise role-playing an international arctic expedition crisis meeting.

In the next part of the week, we talked about the history, culture, and economic life of the Sámi. We began with a general introduction to the people of Norrbotten, including the Swedish minorities that live there, and then we began discussing and watching Sámi film. All the films we watched were made by Sámi filmmakers. We began with a feature length film about the Kautokeino rebellion by Nils Gaup, and continued the next day with two short films by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Liselotte Wajstedt, both of which were on modern Sámi. We then went to the Nordiska Museet exhibition on the Sámi, which we discussed in the context of the former exhibition.

Ending the week was a lecture on the geopolitics of minerals, and a group seminar on current mining developments on Greenland.

Karl’s bio and week:

I follow the engineering physics programme at KTH in Stockholm, the city where I’ve spent most of my life. I decided to take this course out of personal interest in the topic, and a fascination with the polar regions.

The time of year being as it is, I’ve spent much of my time outside of class this week following the European football championship. Between matches I’ve also tried to stay on top of the readings, and enjoy the lovely summer weather.

In class I’ve particularly enjoyed the different group exercises and discussions we’ve had on this week’s topics.

Katy’s bio and week:

I study Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Illinois, although I’m originally from Colorado. I chose to take this course because I was interested in the history and impact of technology, and I wanted to see the arctic.

In no particular order, this week I’ve done a ghost tour, visited the beach by Lappis, and gone to Helsinki for a quick visit. In class, I’ve enjoyed learning about the geology of the arctic.

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