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Dartmouth has developed a significant scientific, educational, and policy-development relationship with Greenlandic institutions. Greenland is a hotspot for polar environmental change research due to rapidly changing physical and ecological conditions. Dartmouth has been training a new generation of scientists who understand the complex scientific and societal impacts of these changes.
The strong links between science and the social and political issues of rapid environmental change in Greenland have the potential to affect environmental policies worldwide and therefore are an essential part of the dialogue between scientists, policy makers, and other stakeholders. Using the interdisciplinary framework of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), initiated in 2008, the Institute of Arctic Studies developed a curriculum that combines the foundations of disciplinary training in ecology and evolutionary biology, earth sciences, and engineering with an interdisciplinary curriculum in polar environmental change. The culminating academic experience is a field-based course in Greenland to examine the scientific, cultural and political issues that span the circumpolar region.
We have also initiated an ongoing collaborative model of exchange and education with Ilisimatusarfik (University of Greenland), the Inuit Circumpolar Council and other partners in Greenland. Dartmouth intends to expand this collaboration to include more opportunities for faculty and student exchanges between the institutions.
As a result of this experience, many graduate students have developed independent research projects in Greenland. They are largely interdisciplinary and cover diverse topics including polar robotics, ice sheet and glacial dynamics, atmospheric science, climate impacts on physical and biological properties of ecosystems, and traditional use of plants and connections with the Greenlandic language.
Download a complete description of the diverse graduate students projects based in Greenland. Read about their experiences in the field on the IGERT Student Blog.
A core goal of the Polar Environmental Change curriculum is developing student skills to communicate the links between science and the social and political issues of rapid environmental change. For the past four years, graduate and undergraduate student researchers have participated in the Joint Science Education Project (JSEP), a program of the Joint Committee, a high-level forum involving the Greenlandic, Danish and U.S. governments that promotes cooperation and interaction between governments, academic and private institutions in the three countries.
Through JSEP, Dartmouth students share their science with high school students and teachers from Greenland, Denmark, and the US at the Kangerlussuaq Science Field School and during the Arctic Science Education Week at Summit Station, Greenland. Dartmouth students have also made and distributed tri-lingual education materials for Greenlandic students, given presentations about their research at the Katuaq Cultural Center in Nuuk, been interviewed on Kalaallit Nunaata Radio (KNR) about their work, and led field trips for Greenlandic schools.
Back in the U.S., Dartmouth students share the results and implications of their projects in Greenland through initiatives including the Graduate Women in Science and Engineering's "Science Day" for local elementary and middle school students. Our students also hold seminars for local residents in Dartmouth's Lifelong Learning Institute, undergraduate students in the Council on Climate Change, and first-year students in the Dickey Center's Great Issues Scholars Program.
Our efforts extend to the local community as well, with students presenting their research from Greenland in local elementary, middle, and high school classrooms and at informal science presentations held at a local restaurant.
We also have a variety of web-based outreach resources/ including a Polar Environmental Change blog, which has over 280 posts and been viewed over 62,000 times. Students contribute observations, descriptions, and stories about their experiences doing research in Greenland and other related activities. They've also created a series of educational videos based on their work in Greenland, as well as short videos about each student's research. The student-produced video "Science in Greenland: It's a Girl Thing" received over 12,000 views and national press attention.
For more information about our outreach activities, contact Lauren Culler, Arctic Postdoctoral Fellow and Outreach Coordinator.