"Dispatches from Europe" Blog Contest

Are you planning on traveleling to the European Union this summer? Submit a post to be featured on our Across the Pond blog and win prizes!

Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic Blogs

The third Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic class traveled to the Arctic Circle in summer 2014. Check out their blog entries from this summer!

Ringing the Bells at the Banner of Peace

Landscape Architecture Doctoral candidate Caroline Wisler reflects on her travels to Bulgaria.

Zach Grotovsky's Summer 2013: 14 Cities, 15 Weeks, One Long Adventure

University of Illinois graduate student in Germanic Literatures and Languages Zach Grotovsky documents his travels throughout Eastern Europe in the summer of 2013.

Polar Bears

The Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic class spotted polar bears in Norway!

Peaceful Opposition in Izmir

MAEUS student Levi Armlovich describes his experiences with the protests in Izmir, Turkey.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Environment and Society in a Changic Arctic Field Notes: June 26th by Laura Schultz and Saloni Sheth

This article and the images originally appeared on KTH's Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic blog. 

There 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.

June 26th by Laura Schultz and Saloni Sheth

Today, we struggled.

Saloni’s morning: The morning started off rough with over-packing issues, so I rushed through getting ready and headed to the bus stop to meet the rest of the group. Unfortunately I missed the bus—and my group—by three minutes and the next one wasn’t for another half hour. I resigned myself to getting to the train station by foot, which was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I accepted the fact that I looked like a mess in the rain, running with two suitcases, a hiking backpack ready to burst at the seams, a knapsack, a jacket, and furry hiking boots. Thankfully, I found the rest of our group waiting at the train station, and when they saw me arrive out of breath with my luggage they all applauded. I thought my morning journey would be the roughest part of my day—it couldn’t possibly get any worse, right?

Laura’s morning: I thought the day would be just fine when I woke up. I got out of bed, showered, and had breakfast all in good time. From there, I started to get delayed- I had to forgotten to take my trash out and my last minute packing of loose items took longer than anticipated. But the real problems began when I had to leave Lappis and carry all of my luggage… which included a suitcase, a duffel bag, my backpack, a boarding bag, and a tote bag. It was a combination of my own overpacking and my mother’s encouragement to bring more that led me to be this weighed down. Thankfully, after getting it all outside, I caught the bus to the subway and then the subway to KTH, a process that looking back was relatively pain-free. However, once we all stepped out of the subway station, the worst part of my day began.

The journey:

Walking to Dag’s office on the other side of campus was painful for all of us. And it certainly didn’t help that it was raining. Once we got there, we dropped off our extra luggage and thought the difficulties were over. That was when we got the news that our flight had been cancelled, and that the next flight Norwegian Airlines could get us on wasn’t for four days. After looking into alternate options, we found an overnight train that left that afternoon and would get us to Kiruna by morning. Excited to take the scenic route, we were content with this plan. Then we realized that nine minutes in between train transfers was too risky and could leave us stranded in the middle of the night in a random city. Now the best option was to book a different airline for the next morning. This would work out fine for ten out of the thirteen travelers in our group, but for the three of us that would be on standby (the two of us and Enrico) it was just one more struggle. But we have no other choice, so here we are, waiting at the airport and hoping three people just don’t show up for this flight. The positive highlight of yesterday is easy to pick out—when we were headed back to Lappis for the night and Enrico bounced off of the bus walls… Maybe it wouldn’t have been funny on any other day, but after a day like yesterday, any sort of comic relief was very welcome. :)
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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic Field Notes: Week 3 at KTH by Evan London and Kajsa Lundgren


This article and the images originally appeared on KTH's Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic blog. 

There 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 Evan London and Kasja Lundgreen
 
Hi, Kajsa and Evan here!

Time has flown by fast, the third week at KTH has now passed and we are leaving for Kiruna and new adventures tomorrow. This week has been quite busy with lectures together with Dag where the focus has been on the Swedish north, colonization, and heritage in Arctic politics, amongst other things.

It’s been interesting to learn how the Swedish North played a crucial role when Sweden was about to re-define itself during the 19th century (after the Great Power era). The North was of great importance in many aspects; resources, science, and power production. Due to the industrial revolution, which reached Sweden around 1870, there was a huge increase in the demand of steel. This also contributed to the northward expansion and colonization.

During the industrial revolution people didn’t care much about environmental protection, not that they didn’t care about their surrounding nature, but more of a common understanding that no matter how humanity changed the environments, nature would always win in the end. One might call it “the unbeatable power of Mother Nature”.

In the late 17th century there was a shift in this way of thinking and the first law for bird protection was imposed in the year of 1888 in Germany. In the states national parks were established and this idea was then brought to Sweden by Adolf Erik Nordeskiöld who argued that Sweden also should establish national parks. Laponia was at the same time acknowledged as a World Heritage. This lead us into the definition of heritage and how historical narratives have been used to highlight the importance of certain individuals in order to make claims and “prove” historical connections between nations and locations of interest. An example discussed in class in South Georgia where Great Britain and Argentina are using history to tell their own story of how they are connected to the island.

As the week drew to a close, we presented in our essay groups about the status of our research. Everyone had great presentations with a lot of good questions, a really good position for us to be in before heading up to the Arctic.

Friday was Midsummer, and the american students went south to the celebration in Nynäshamn. It was a great representation of an authentic traditional midsummer complete with a maypole and folk dancing. There was no better way to end the week before we head up to the Arctic on Sunday.


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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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Monday, June 13, 2016

Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic Field Notes: Week 1 at KTH Royal Institue of Technology

This article and the images originally appeared on KTH's Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic blog. 

There 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.

Week 1 at KTH by Martin Alesund and Rachel Gutierrez

This week, we were given a brief overview of the course that we are taking. We also learned some general knowledge about the arctic, including: global climate change, melting glaciers, the rise in sea level, and the melting permafrost. Our main question we want to answer is: “How the society is affected by the climate change and its consequences?” We also learned that there are economic interests in the arctic that are also being affected by the climate change and climate change may pose a particular threat to these economies. The goal of this course is not “reverse” or “stop” climate change, but rather to better prepare for what is going to happen in the future and how to cope with these changes to the environment. Ms. Rosqvist was supposed to have lectures on Thursday and Friday but she was unfortunately ill so we watched a video supplement that described reindeer herding and how climate change is changing the routine of the Sami people and reindeer herding.


Bio on Martin and Description of his Week: My name is Martin Alesund and I am 25 years old. I am studying the first year in the master program of Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Infrastructure at KTH. I´ve been living in Stockholm my entire life. Here comes a short summary of my week, since me and Rachel were at different places. The day before the course started, I wrote my last exam before the summer and had a massive migraine afterwards. The headache came back three days straight so despite coming to school for the 45 minute course introduction I was home in bed. I worked during the weekend. So my week wasn’t great and I´m really looking forward to the upcoming course.

Bio on Rachel and Description of her Week: My name is Rachel Gutierrez and I am from the University of Illinois in the USA. I am majoring in Atmospheric Sciences and minoring in Geology and I will be starting my fourth year in the Fall of 2016. I decided to take this course because I am interested in climate change and I thought it would be an amazing experience to be able to go to the arctic and learn about it. This is also my first time traveling to Europe, so my week has been quite exciting. I arrived on Tuesday, June 7th with some other classmates and spent a long time dragging our luggage from place to place as we tried to find the place to pick up our keys for the dormitories. Once we were settled, which took a surprisingly long time, we rested for the upcoming day of class. After class, my fellow U of I companions and I went touring around Stockholm. We went on a boat tour of the canals and bridges around the city and got to learn a little bit about the buildings that are on the water. We also went to Skansen, which I personally loved because I got to see many baby animals, moose (my favorite), and walk through 19th century villages and learn about the Swedish history and way of life at that time. Next, we visited the Vasa Museum which was absolutely incredible! I learned so much about the tragic fate of the Vasa ship and it was extremely fascinating to see how so many artefacts from the ship were preserved, almost as if a piece of 17th century Sweden is frozen in time. My first week has been filled with many new experiences and challenges, but I am certainly enjoying my time exploring a new place.


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