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.
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.