Field Stations 2023

Rural / Arctic Futures

Field Stations is an immersive integrative studies program that focuses on environmental change in ecologically-critical places. The Wright-Ingraham Institute invites scholars, post-graduates, doctoral and graduate students from all fields to apply to the 2023 Icelandic Field Stations, to be convened in partnership with the Svartárkot Culture-Nature (SCN) program in the summer of 2023.

2023 Summer Program Dates: July 29-August 11, 2023

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Studies of Regeneration
and Resilience

Northern Iceland

Field Stations is an immersive, place-based, interdisciplinary studies program designed to explore complex nature-culture interfaces. We bring together diverse viewpoints from environmental researchers, social scientists, architects, planners, farmers, arts practitioners, ecologists, humanities scholars, and historians to examine socio-ecological relationships that are vital to confronting multiple 21st century crises. Our work builds on the proposition that we (humans) are fully a part of nature, and that understanding interconnectedness is critical to discovering new ways to tackle the wicked problems we face.

2023 Icelandic Field Stations

Iceland 2018, video by Lea Rekow

Our 2023 Field Stations workshop will be held in Iceland. The course connects local studies to issues of global relevance, with a particular focus on the scenic Lake Mývatn area, the Bárðardalur valley on the banks of the glacial Skjálfandafljót River with its magnificent waterfalls, the Vatnajökull Glacier and the Jökulsárlón lagoon near Höfn, before concluding in Reykjavik. The course will provide a unique blend of lectures and field experiences that investigate how cultural and natural histories are embedded in landscapes. It also explores their entanglements with contemporary energy, food, ecology, economy, and policy concerns.

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF ICELAND

Iceland 2018

Objectives

The Wright-Ingraham Institute is proud to partner with the Svartárkot Culture-Nature (SCN) program to coproduce the 2023 Icelandic Field Stations (IFS) program. IFS is an international, interdisciplinary summer workshop devoted to building integrated environmental knowledge in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Its contributors include leading Icelandic scholars, fellows, community leaders and international guest contributors.

The aim of the IFS is to advance and share research concerning interactions between humans and nature, and to strengthen relevant connections between the environmental humanities and current political and scientific debates about the environment. A further goal is to generate discussions about the complex relationships between humans and nature in confronting contemporary environmental challenges.

The program seeks to showcase innovative research and provocative exchanges from experts in fields including history, environmental science, ecocriticism, visual studies, archaeology, anthropology, language studies, technology, energy, agriculture, and philosophy, with the aim to connect scholarship to public discourse of the Arctic region and build integrated knowledge that may contribute to deepening our understanding of local and global environmental challenges and how we might confront them.

The Wright-Ingraham has its roots in Colorado, and as such we are pleased that one of the core partners of the Skartárkot Culture-Nature program is affiliated with the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), at the University of Colorado, Boulder. WII is proud to have provided INSTAAR with past support in the form of a small grant from WII’s Grantmaking Program to continue their important research.

Our hope is to broaden conversations through knowledge exchanges that strengthen the relationships between different research communities. By bridging or integrating disciplinary lines of thought through productive, generous interaction, we hope to build new ways of knowing and transmitting what we know, and by extension, build capacity to contribute to structural change.

IFS is not just about approaching topics in an integrated and multi-disciplinary way, it is about incorporating a new way of working together—listening, teaching, learning, and coalition-building with one another, and expanding research and practices in an emerging field that both values expertise and also recognizes the limitations that are always present in any one discipline—this is what IFS aims to deliver.

General Description

The 2023 Icelandic Field Stations is an interdisciplinary, immersive, place-based course held in Summer 2023 in various locations throughout northern Iceland. The course has been developed at the intersection of the environmental humanities, alongside the natural and social sciences. It connects with local communities and to issues of global importance. In particular, it focuses on the scenic Lake Mývatn area, the Bárðardalur valley on the banks of the glacial Skjálfandafljót River with its magnificent waterfalls, and the Vatnajökull Glacier near Höfn, and will conclude in Reykjavik. The course will provide a unique blend of lectures and experiences of cultural histories and contemporary issues embedded in landscapes.

Who Is the Course For?

The course is designed for those working across an array of disciplines who wish to supplement and broaden their interests in Arctic and Nordic studies with a unique site-specific curriculum in the environmental humanities and natural and social sciences. The course welcomes scholars, emerging professionals, researchers, post-graduates, master’s and doctoral students looking for new insights and inspirations in post-and transdisciplinary methods, as well as those wishing to stimulate and participate in a fresh exchange of ideas, methodological processes, and perspectives.

The course is suited to to a more advanced level of study, we also welcome motivated undergraduates to apply to participate in this course.

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 to the present, 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 and climate change evidence drawn from official records such as trade documents will be presented alongside a range of environmental humanities activities. 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, hiking in areas full of history many of which are exclusive and not frequently travelled by tourists.

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; Ecocriticism; Cultural Creativity; Environmental and Climate History; Environmental Archaeology and Anthropology; Historical Ecology; Ecosystem Ecology; Population Ecology, Limnology, Natural Resource Use Management, Tourism, Energy, Technology, and Visualization methods and techniques.

Course Design

The course will consist of a series of lectures on the topics and themes as described in the curriculum, reading list, and online supplementary materials, as well as field-study visits and excursions (hiking and site specific excursions) for 10-15 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 (MYSEAC), and RANNÍS (Research Council of Iceland). Senior researchers from these projects, along with a senior researcher at the University of Iceland’s Research Centre in Hornafjörður and interdisciplinary scholars from the US, will lecture in-person during intensive daily sessions, and be available to advise and mentor participants in specific areas.

Course Organizers
and Affiliates

Co-organized by: Svartárkot Culture-Nature (SCN) Project, Wright-Ingraham Institute, and Hólar University, with co-operation with the Icelandic Museum of Natural History; the City University of New York; the Stefansson Arctic Institute; the Humanities for the Environment (HfE) Circumpolar Observatory; NABO (The North Atlantic Biocultural Organisation); NIES (The Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies); BifrostOnline, and the Circumpolar Networks case of IHOPE (the Integrated History and Future of People on Earth), a core project of Future Earth.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completing the course, the student is expected to be able to:

  • in an interdisciplinary manner, identify the different approaches of the humanities and social- and natural sciences, such as ecology, climatology, environmental history and archaeology in order to analyze environmental aspects of culture/nature relationships in Arctic and Nordic contexts.
  • address questions on long-term connections between societal, cultural and environmental changes, and understand how rural communities and natural ecosystems have adapted to multiple disturbances and climatic change.
  • identify cultural and scientific evidence of anthropogenic change to landscape and environment.
  • understand the role of traditional ecological knowledge, and agricultural- and cultural history in a modern rural society.
  • understand the importance of biodiversity, and ecological diversity on sustainable resource use management in complex systems over long timescales.
  • to recognize the different forms of cultural heritage, and their manifestation in the landscape
  • identify key aspects of ecocritical approaches to literature from the period ca. 1700-the present.
  • identify the environmental significance of literary texts and genres, in particular as carriers of environmental memory and change in the context of regional cultural changes.
  • to be able to assess the importance of cultural heritage for the interpretation of human-nature interactions.
  • to be able to discuss the various issues concerning the protection and utilization of cultural heritage.