The Arctic is experiencing fast and unprecedented economic, environmental, political, and security challenges, which provides new opportunities for international cooperation, but also a potential for regional competition and even conflict. For example, the reduction of the Arctic ice cap is now exceeding earlier climatic model predictions.

About the Course

The Arctic is experiencing fast and unprecedented economic, environmental, political, and security challenges, which provides new opportunities for international cooperation but also a potential for regional competition and even conflict. For example, the reduction of the Arctic ice cap is now exceeding earlier climatic model predictions.

The increasingly ice-free Arctic waters are creating greater accessibility to the Arctic region. New opportunities for natural and mineral resource extraction and consequently production, in combinations with new routes of transportation may not only fuel economic growth in the Arctic, but may also attract outside stakeholders. However, a potential increase in commercial activity in this remote region is to a certain extent on a collision course with the fragile Arctic ecosystem and poses a number of different security challenges. This includes search and rescue, oil-spill prevention and response, mitigating measurements with respect to environmental changes and border protection.

As the region takes on greater economic and strategic importance, the Arctic is in need of an increased prioritization and strong leadership among the Arctic states. For example, investment is needed to develop limited infrastructure and strategic facilities, and enhanced cooperation and coordination among Arctic nations is necessary in order to prevent increased tension.

 

Learning outcomes

The candidate shall be able to…

Knowledge

  • Explain the concept of ‘geopolitics’.
  • Gain knowledge about the state of, and importance of the Arctic region in general.
  • Consider the environmental changes that are taking place above the Arctic region.
  • Account for some of the most important dynamics which shapes this region.
  • Understand some of the basic ways natural resources may be used as a geopolitical instrument.
  • Understand the importance of Svalbard to Norway and the region.
  • Know about and refer to central treaties and other documents dealing with the Arctic.

Skills

  • Assess the importance of the Arctic region to the various nation-states located in the Arctic.
  • Evaluate the importance of natural resources for Arctic development.
  • Evaluate and discuss the importance of international rules, regulations and institutions in the Arctic.
  • Discuss potential factors for conflicts in the Arctic.
  • Evaluate and consider future geopolitical scenarios in the Arctic.
  • Make use of International Relations Theory in assessing the politics of the Arctic.

Competence

  • Discuss potential factors for conflicts in the Arctic.
  • Evaluate and consider future geopolitical scenarios in the Arctic.

 

Assessment

Requirement

  • Policy brief/short essay; memo: 500 words (pass/fail)
  • Compulsory participation in discussions in the digital classroom.

Exam

  • Take home exam (individual essay); memo: 2500 words (+/- 10 % excluding front page and reference list) (60 % of the grade, grading system A – F)
  • 3 hour written exam (40 % of the grade, grading system A – F)