Dartmouth has a strong sense of place that encourages lasting bonds between people and the natural environment. The Institute of Arctic Studies is the Dickey Center's home for all environmental programming, as well as national and international climate and polar initiatives.
Senior leadership are Director Ross Virginia, Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science, and Associate Director Matthew Ayres, Professor of Biological Sciences. Core staff are Program Manager Lee McDavid and Science Outreach Coordinator Lauren Culler. We work closely with Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives Denise Anthony, who serves on the Board of Governors for the University of the Arctic (UArctic).
Since its founding in 1989, the Institute of Arctic Studies has focused on the environmental, cultural, and political dimensions of the North and the critical impact of climate change. But Dartmouth’s great tradition of northern studies began long ago with the student and legendary 18th-century explorer John Ledyard. It continued into the 20th century with Arctic explorer, scholar, and founder of Dartmouth's Northern and Polar Studies Program, Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879-1962). One of his legacies is the Stefansson Special Collection on Polar Exploration, one of the premier library collections in the world on the history of the Arctic and Antarctica. Evelyn Stefansson Nef (1913-2009), a researcher and authority on the Far North, generously endowed the undergraduate Stefansson Fellowship and the Institute of Arctic Studies, assuring its continued strength and growth.
The Institute of Arctic Studies has become a crossroads for interdisciplinary research, discussion, and education in polar studies. We provide undergraduate and graduate students with guidance on educational and research opportunities. We support a graduate program in polar environmental change that is preparing a new generation of scientists and engineers. Our seminars and public events with notable scholars and policymakers highlight the importance of polar regions and global ecosystems in world affairs and spark productive discussion of these issues within our community and beyond.
A major National Science Foundation IGERT grant awarded to the Dickey Center in 2008 created a PhD curriculum in polar environmental change that has included polar science, engineering, and the human dimensions of environmental change. Our work in Polar Environmental Change has expanded to encompasses research in Greenland, undergraduate and graduate courses, research fellowships, science communication and outreach activities, and a network of national and international partnerships. Our link to the North is made stronger by an institutional commitment to Native American and Native Alaskan students through the Native American Studies Program.