Dr. Matthias Kokorsch is the director of the master’s program in Coastal Communities and Regional Development. He holds a PhD from the University of Iceland in Geography, and a state examination for teaching in Geography, Social Sciences and Pedagogy from the University of Duisburg and Essen. His PhD dissertation was entitled “Mapping Resilience – Coastal Communities in Iceland” (Seigla íslenskra sjávarbyggða).

Matthias Kokorsch’s research interests include community resilience, regional development, particularly in sparsely populated regions, structural changes of old-industrial areas, and resource management in combination with aspects of justice and decision-making processes. Matthias Kokorsch has been involved in several research projects on regional and community development. Currently he works in the international program ClicNord which addresses aspects of place-attachment in small and remote communities in times of climate change related natural hazards. Another research project focuses on the role of innovation in rural communities. Prior to his job as program director, Matthias Kokorsch worked as scientist for the Thünen-Institute of Rural Studies in Germany and taught at the University of Hanover.

The Program Director in Coastal Communities and Regional Development has the following roles:

  • Professional oversight over the master’s program, administration and co-ordination of the curriculum
  • Contact between the Master's program committee, University Centre staff, teachers and students in Coastal Communities and Regional Development
  • Recommend new teachers, instructors, and thesis advisors to the master’s committee
  • Facilitate cooperation, foster a network around the program and be of an assistance to teachers if needed
  • Answer or correctly forward all questions relating to professional aspects of the master’s program
  • Keep track of students’ academic progress, both in courses and when working on their theses
  • Take responsibility for thesis assessments, including presentations (lectures) and defenses

The University Centre‘s teaching staff is as diverse as it is numerous – and numerous it truly is, as 201 instructors have been involved in teaching and advising in the Centre’s two master’s programs over the last twelve years. One thing that all these instructors have in common is that none is permanently employed as a teacher at the Centre. The University Centre places an emphasis on finding highly qualified specialists in each field to teach courses on its two multidisciplinary masters programs in Coastal and Marine Management and Coastal Communities and Regional Development.

Given the breadth of the field of the two programs, it would have been very difficult, perhaps impossible, to find two individuals who could have covered the program’s entire academic spectrum. Thus the Centre, from the beginning, bet on its ability to attract specialized instructors for short periods of time, usually two or three weeks. Through this approach, students get to know instructors who are not just specialized professionals, but are also diverse in their origins and backgrounds, and enmeshed in a variety of networks all over the world. This diversity enriches the Centre’s programs and lends them a complex and colorful texture.

Field trip in the programme Coastal Communities and Regional Development (CRD)
Field trip in the programme Coastal Communities and Regional Development (CRD)
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Each year we welcome students from all around the world and from various educational backgrounds to the University Centre of the Westfjords who all bring their unique set of skills to the program. Some students join directly after completing their bachelor's degree and others decide to continue studying after some years on the job market. The international atmosphere and the mix of experiences creates a rich exchange of knowledge and ideas among students and with faculty.

The wide range of courses offered, combined with the possibility of supplementing studies with transferred credits from internships and external courses, gives students the opportunity to choose a direction best suited for them. The interdisciplinary nature of the program prepares our students well for the job market in the field of natural resource management and beyond. Data about alumni occupations and much more can be found in the Universities Centre´s latest report.

Usually students graduate after two years, with a celebration on Iceland’s National Day, June 17th. Many move on to all possible corners of the world but some put down roots in Iceland.

Read in our Blog what Alumni Daniel Metzger says about his time at the University Centre of the Westfjords.

World Ocean Day event organized by the student community
World Ocean Day event organized by the student community
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The Ægir Student Association is run by the student community of the University Center of the Westfjords. It gets passed on between cohorts every acadmic year and is entirely in student´s hands. Its intention is to provide an insight into student life, organize student events and build relationships with the local community of Ísafjörður.

Ægir was the giant Norse spirit of the sea, and as a master brewer he was also chief party organizer for the gods of Valhalla.