PAST COURSES

The Svartárkot programme was launched with an international demo-course, inviting scholars and professors from all over the world. The project offered free food and accommodations at Kiðagil but participants paid for their fares to Akureyri, where the group was picked up in a bus. The turnout was good, with 30 people from England, Canada, USA, Bulgaria, Austria, Italy, Poland and Finland.

A programme was designed consisting of lectures and excursions for a week: cultural and literary history, manuscript studies, geology, biology, environmental history, focusing on the relations between humans and nature. Waterfalls and abandoned farmsteads were visited, a lecture on Barrow’s goldeneye was delivered in Svartárkot and at the top of a gravel hill facing the vast lavafield Ódáðahraun and the glaciers in the far south a lecture on geology was delivered. A whale watching trip in the midnight sun at Húsavík. The American writer and poet Bill Holm (1943-2009, of Icelandic descent, see: billholm.com ) joined the group for a few days. The Minister of the Environment visited Kiðagil and addressed the participants.

Environmental history with a pioneer of environmental history, Donald Worster, as a guest lecturer.

 
Photo: Donald Worster on the banks of Lake Svartárvatn, pointing a few participants to the right direction.

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Writing Local Cultures – Scribal Culture – Local Knowledge – Microhistories
A course on local literary- and manuscript culture, with Margaret Ezell as a guest lecturer.

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August 2nd – August 16th 2014
Environmental Memory and Change in Medieval Iceland:

A two week summer course (10 ECTS*) in Iceland for Masters and Doctoral students with interest in supplementing their studies that fall within the following disciplines:

• Literary Ecocriticism
• Environmental History
• Environmental Archeology
• Environmental Anthropology

The course had a thoroughly interdisciplinary orientation and addressed timely research questions that lent themselves to intersecting disciplinary perspectives and inputs from complementary scholarly fields in the humanities and social sciences that shared a common interest in the human dimensions of environmental change and the effects of such processes on environments and societies.

The course addressed questions on long-term societal resilience in the face of risks from climate change, internal conflict, rapid landscape change, pandemic disease, and the impact of early globalization.

The course consisted of a series of seminars, lectures and field-study visits on closely related research topics and themes within the environmental humanities for the benefit of approximately 30 international participants. Senior researchers from each of the key disciplines anchoring the course held lecture during the two weeks of intensive sessions, and held mentoring meetings with the grad students.

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5-15 June 2015

Understanding the Human Dimensions of Long-term Environmental Change: Transformations of Iceland from the Viking Era through the late Medieval Period (CE 850-1500):

Understanding the Human Dimensions of Long-term Environmental Change was an intensive ten-day summer course (7.5 ECTS*) for masters and doctoral students who wished to supplement their studies with a unique site-specific curriculum in the environmental humanities and social sciences. The course involved multiple excursions and lectures in the field and integrated perspectives, theories, case studies and methodologies from the following disciplines:

• Literary Ecocriticism
• Environmental History
• Environmental Archeology
• Environmental Anthropology
• Integrated Digital & Environmental Humanities
• Historical Ecology
• Saga Studies
• Palaeoecology

With a thoroughly interdisciplinary orientation to case-based study, the course engaged a range of questions concerning the human dimensions of environmental change and the effects of such change on environments and societies. In particular the course foregrounded questions of long‐term societal resilience 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 course consisted of a series of seminars, lectures and field-study visits on closely related research topics and themes within the environmental humanities for the benefit of approximately 20 international participants.  Senior researchers  from each of the key disciplines anchored the course, many of them active at the forefront of the field of Integrated Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences. They lectured during the course’s intensive daily sessions, which also included mentoring tutorials with participating grad students.

 

Building upon the successful course Environmental Memory and Change in Medieval Iceland organized in August 2014, Understanding the Human Dimensions of Long-term Environmental Change was co-organized by The Svartarkot Culture-Nature project, The Reykjavik Academy, City University of New York and Mid Sweden University, in close cooperation with NABO (The North Atlantic Biocultural Organisation), NIES (The Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies), GHEA (The Global Human Ecodynamics Alliance) and the Circumpolar Networks case of IHOPE (The Integrated History and Future of People on Earth), a core project of Future Earth. The course was accredited by University of Akureyri.

20-30 August 2018

Human Ecology and Culture at Lake Mývatn 1700-2000: Dimensions of Environmental and Cultural Change:


An interdisciplinary course in the Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences was be held in August 2018 in Bárðardalur, northeastern Iceland. The course connected local communities and issues with global developments, with a particular focus on the scenic Lake Mývatn area and the Bárðardalur valley on the banks of the glacial Skjálfandafljót River with its magnificent waterfalls. The course provided a unique blend of lectures and experiences of cultural histories embedded in landscapes.

LOCATION: Kiðagil, Bárðardalur, northern Iceland. Approximately 60 km (50 miles) from Iceland´s northern capital of Akureyri.

WHO IS THE COURSE FOR? The course was designed for Masters and Doctoral students wishing to supplement their studies with a unique site-specific curriculum in the environmental humanities and social sciences. The course also welcomed professors and scholars looking for new insights and inspirations in post-and transdisciplinary methods

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The course engaged 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 foregrounded 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 was the interplay between humans and nature at Lake Mývatn, and adjacent areas in northeastern Iceland, during the period 1700-2000, 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 were presented along with poetry, local tales, fiction as well as official records such as trade documents. Students became acquainted with a variety of data and documents and had “hands on” experiences of crucial areas/landscapes such as the Framengjar wetlands, and were able to simply to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful and dramatic local landscapes.

The course involved multiple excursions and lectures in the field and integrated perspectives, theories, case studies and methodologies from the following disciplines: Environmental Humanities; Literary Ecocriticism; Environmental and Climate History; Environmental Archaeology and Anthropology; Historical Ecology; Manuscript Studies

COURSE DESIGN: The course consisted of a series of lectures on the topics and themes mentioned above, as well as field-study visits and excursions (hiking and driving along rough mountain trails) for the benefit of approximately 25 international participants. The course was based primarily on the ongoing work of a team investigating long-term human ecodynamics and environmental change in the Lake Mývatn area and drew on the US National Science Foundation-funded project: Investigations of the Long- Term Sustainability of Human Ecodynamic Systems in Northern Iceland (MYCHANGE) and the RANNÍS (Research Council of Iceland)-funded project The Mývatn District of Iceland: Sustainability, Environment and Change ca. AD 1700 to 1950 (MYSEAC). Senior researchers from these projects lectured during intensive daily sessions, which also included mentoring tutorials with participating graduate students.

COURSE ORGANISERS: The course was co-organized by: The Svartárkot Culture-Nature Project; The Reykjavik Academy; the City University of New York; and the Stefansson Arctic Institute, in cooperation with NABO (The North Atlantic Biocultural Organisation),NIES (The Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies),GHEA (The Global Human Ecodynamics Alliance) and the Circumpolar Networks case of IHOPE (The Integrated History and Future of People on Earth), a core project of Future Earth.

COURSE EVALUATION/REQUIREMENTS FOR A DIPLOMA: No credits were issued; however, the course was equivalent to approximately 7.5 ECTS and a diploma was issued upon completion of requirements. The diploma contained a thorough description of contents, reading material, lectures and excursions. The overall student workload estimated was approximately 200 hours. The anticipated workload was broken down as follows:

• Readings and assignments before arrival in Iceland: 60-80 hours

• Sessions in class (lectures and discussions): c. 30 hours

• Field trips often with lectures often included, 40 hours

• Preparation of term paper after finishing the sessions on location 60-80 hours–due within 4 weeks of the end of the course

Svartárkot Culture Nature – Svartárkot, 645 Fosshóli – +354 844 8645 / +354 895 4742 – vidar@svartarkot.is / gudrunhlini@gmail.com

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