"Examine the relationship between culture, sustainability and human responsibility..."




20-30 August 2018


Human Ecology and Culture at Lake Mývatn 1700-2000: Dimensions of Environmental and Cultural Change:


An interdisciplinary course in the Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences will be held in August 2018 in Bárðardalur, northeastern Iceland. The course will connect local communities and issues with global developments, with a particular focus on the scenic Lake Mývatn area and the Bárðardalur valley on the banks of the glacial Skjálfandafljót River with its magnificent waterfalls. The course will provide a unique blend of lectures and experiences of cultural histories embedded in landscapes.


DATES:  20-30 August 2018


LOCATION:  Kiðagil, Bárðardalur, northern Iceland. Approximately 60 km (50 miles) from Iceland´s northern capital of Akureyri.



WHO IS THE COURSE FOR?   The course is designed for Masters and Doctoral students who wish to supplement their studies with a unique site-specific curriculum in the environmental humanities and social sciences. The course also welcomes professors and scholars looking for new insights and inspirations in post-and transdisciplinary methods


COURSE DESCRIPTION:  The course will engage a range of questions concerning the human dimensions of environmental change and the effects of such change on environments and societies grounded in interdisciplinary orientation to case-based study. In particular, the course foregrounds questions of long‐term societal resilience and cultural responses in the face of climate change, competition and societal conflict over natural resources, effects of early globalization and anthropogenic transformation of landscapes and ecosystems at multiple times scales.


The primary focus is the interplay between humans and nature at Lake Mývatn, and adjacent areas in northeastern Iceland, during the period 1700-2000, with a particular emphasis on rivers and water systems. Through lectures and excursions, topics focusing on: climate history; environmental history; archaeology; ecology; and socioeconomic history will be presented along with poetry, local tales, fiction as well as official records such as trade documents. Students will become acquainted with a variety of data and documents and will have “hands on” experiences of crucial areas/landscapes such as the Framengjar wetlands, as well as being able simply to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful and dramatic local landscapes.


The course will involve multiple excursions and lectures in the field and integrates perspectives, theories, case studies and methodologies from the following disciplines: Environmental Humanities; Literary Ecocriticism; Environmental and Climate History; Environmental Archaeology and Anthropology; Historical Ecology; Manuscript Studies


COURSE DESIGN:  The course will consist of a series of lectures on the topics and themes mentioned above, as well as field-study visits and excursions (hiking and driving along rough mountain trails) for the benefit of approximately 25 international participants. The course is based primarily on the ongoing work of a team investigating long-term human ecodynamics and environmental change in the Lake Mývatn area and draws on the US National Science Foundation-funded project: Investigations of the Long- Term Sustainability of Human Ecodynamic Systems in Northern Iceland (MYCHANGE) and the RANNÍS (Research Council of Iceland)-funded project The Mývatn District of Iceland: Sustainability, Environment and Change ca. AD 1700 to 1950 (MYSEAC). Senior researchers from these projects will lecture during intensive daily sessions, which also include mentoring tutorials with participating graduate students.


COURSE ORGANISERS:   The course is co-organized by: The Svartárkot Culture-Nature Project; The Reykjavik Academy; the City University of New York; and the Stefansson Arctic Institute, in cooperation with NABO (The North Atlantic Biocultural Organisation),NIES (The Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies),GHEA (The Global Human Ecodynamics Alliance) and the Circumpolar Networks case of IHOPE (The Integrated History and Future of People on Earth), a core project of Future Earth.


COURSE EVALUATION/REQUIREMENTS FOR A DIPLOMA:   No credits will be issued; however, the course is equivalent to approximately 7.5 ECTS and a diploma will be issued upon completion of requirements. The diploma will contain a thorough description of contents, reading material, lectures and excursions. The overall student workload estimated is approximately 200 hours. The anticipated workload breaks down as follows:


• Readings and assignments before arrival in Iceland: 60-80 hours

• Sessions in class (lectures and discussions): c. 30 hours

• Field trips often with lectures often included, 40 hours

• Preparation of term paper after finishing the sessions on location 60-80 hours--due within 4 weeks of the end of the course


LANGUAGE:  All lectures and coursework will be in English.


COST:   $3,950 per person includes room and board, excursions, lectures, and on-site materials, as well as transportation from Akureyri to Kiðagil Guesthouse where the course is located. Please note that airfare and other transportation costs to Akureyri are NOT included.


TRANSPORTATION:   Transportation will be provided from Akureyri to the course location and back. This is included in the cost. Students must arrange their own travel to Iceland and on to Akureyri.


COURSE PLAN:   The full course plan will be available online in mid February. Application (link to application form) deadline March 15th, 2018.



Application Form


Instructors 2018


Course description 2018


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*) European Credit Transfer System