Available courses

Based on the curriculum of the Arctic Council's university without walls, this upper-level undergraduate and graduate course explores the ecological, cultural, and political processes of the circumpolar world. Based on comparative case studies from northern communities, the course is research-based, writing-intensive, and discussion-driven. From oil and gas extraction to revival of indigenous identities, this vast and fragile region constitutes an untapped reserve of critical importance to a sustainable world. Using a circumpolar and comparative approach, we will investigate the physical and natural processes of the Arctic and Sub-Arctic, as well as the indigenous and local peoples and cultures in the region.

Aillohas noaidi

By drumming, singing and dancing, a traditional spirit master enters a trance state and calls on spirit allies as guides to address some problem. By trickery, magic, or mystery the master accomplishes the needed healing or solution. The indigenous community that surrounds and supports the healer both fears this power, yet considers the sacred powers a last resort when all else fails. In a globalizing world beset by environmental challenges, the spirit world may provide a reservoir of restorative power in the circumpolar North. This original curriculum by Kathleen Osgood and Eleanor Kokar Ott from The Center for Circumpolar Studies provides an inquiry into the spirit worlds and spirit masters in the North, alongside experiential discussions and a student-designed final project in any medium.

UArctic WorldThe problem of what constitutes Ultima Thule, the land beyond ours, has been an enigma and a riddle and a lure to countless humans across the ages. Whether we are looking at Arctic seas, at the tundra, or the taiga, there is no one definitive geography for the Arctic or the Circumpolar North. Of the four million people resident in the Arctic, nearly one million are indigenous peoples, each of whom has a different term for their homeland. Of the eight Arctic Council nations, each has a different agenda. This course gives an orientation to the circumpolar world, its ecosystems, and its peoples, as well as practice in international writing standards.

 Nyla from Nanook

Increasingly, filmmaking is being used by indigenous peoples to reclaim methods of representation. This course provides tools to evaluate films made in and about the North and practice in discussing the visual anthropology of such work. Students will view a range of northern films, from documentaries to feature films, as well as studying and practicing analysis tools for cinema. Work will include comparative analyses, filmmaker profiles, film reviews, and a self-designed research project.

Lehmuskallio, Bride of God

Increasingly, filmmaking is being used by indigenous peoples to reclaim methods of representation. This course provides tools to evaluate films made in and about the North and practice in discussing the visual anthropology of such work. Students will view a range of northern films, from documentaries to feature films, as well as studying and practicing analysis tools for cinema. Work will include comparative analyses, filmmaker profiles, film reviews, and a self-designed research project.

Perry Eaton, Never Still MoonThroughout the world, storytelling has served to transmit knowledge and illumine the nights.  In many indigenous cultures, this tradition is still active, embodied in the stories themselves, or in music, masks and other art, dance, ritual, and food.  Furthermore, the ecological narratives on which stories are based may be a key to cultural resilience in the face of environmental damage and encroaching climate change. Stories and Storytelling examines the oral traditions of northern peoples in all of its manifest aspects.  In addition to studying the folklore and ecology of stories, songs, and traditions of northern peoples, students will prepare storytelling events, a portfolio of tales of their own collecting and devising, and a production in the culminating Qaggiq Theater.

Chukchi Bible

This course based in northern native writing emphasizes ecological and native viewpoints in contemporary creative literature, including particular emphasis on comparisons between northern and western treatments. In addition to exploring means of northern expression, this course involves many modalities of student expression: active listening and response, reading, viewing and discussion, writing and drawing.  Typically, each week’s work clusters around a thematic concept appropriate to an understanding of the North  – a region, an animal, a theory, a contradiction.

Many culturally rich and diverse indigenous groups people the circumpolar North, a region that covers 15 per cent of the Earth’s land mass but comprises only 10 million of its inhabitants. These peoples have long histories in and with the North. In the past few centuries, however, southern neighbours have brought increasing influence on the social, political, and economic activities of the region.

Introduction to the Circumpolar World introduces students to the landscapes, peoples and issues of the northern circumpolar region. Beginning with an examination of the geography, biological and physical systems of the Subarctic and Arctic, it then turns to the Indigenous and contemporary peoples of the region. The history of the Circumpolar World is treated in a broad fashion, to provide grounding in the events and developments that have created the region's contemporary qualities. The second part of the course surveys some of the particular issues facing the region, including climate change, economic, social and political development. The prospects for the region in the future are discussed, as is the potential role for the University of the Arctic.

C.A. Erichsen, Sami Nomad family Nordland Norway, 1920s

Peoples and Cultures of the Circumpolar world explores the emergence of human cultures in the Far North from the end of the last ice age to about the end of World War II, when southern influences became ever greater in the North.

Maxime Grandin, Svalbard in Blue, 2015

Many culturally rich and diverse indigenous groups people the circumpolar North, a region that covers 15 per cent of the Earth’s land mass but comprises only 10 million of its inhabitants. These peoples have long histories in and with the North. In the past few centuries, however, southern neighbours have brought increasing influence on the social, political, and economic activities of the region.