Iceland's Environment and Natural Resources

CMM28 Elective 1 ECTS
Tímabil W35 25.08.14 - 28.08.14
Instructor Dagný Arnarsdóttir, Salvör Jónsdóttir, Gunnar Páll Eydal, Georg Haney and Guðmundur Hálfdánarson


[The module aims at setting the context for studying about environment and natural resources in Iceland, both regarding land and sea.]

As a developed, resource rich, remote and sparsely populated island in the N-Atlantic Ocean, Iceland has distinct aspects. Those are, among others, the country’s diverse geology and homogenous demography, which are not easily comparable to neighbouring nations. The module aims to explore Iceland’s international image concerning environment and natural resources; how the country’s nature may be linked to the self-image of the modern Icelander; nature as a source of nationalism; and how this has manifested in recent debates in the media regarding utilization vs. conservation of renewable energy resources.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • discuss and reflect upon selected topics provided in class and study materials.


Individual assignment. Journal, based on 1) required readings and 2) own reflections after each day of class. At least 500 words per day (applies to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). A journal question will be provided at the end of each day. Citations (in text) and references at the end are required, APA style. Due Friday, August 29, at 9am. (More detailed information will be provided in class.)

Attendance and participation in class discussions.

Grading is P=pass or F=fail


Dagný Arnarsdóttir is the program director of the Coastal and Marine Management program. She holds a master's degree from the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) program at the University of Iceland (UI). In her master's thesis, Dagný studied the Corporate Social Responsibility discourse in Iceland and based her methodology on similar researches on climate change discourses in neighboring countries. Dagný has been the program director of the CMM masters program at the University Centre of the Westfjords since December 2009.

Guðmundur Hálfdánarson

Salvör Jónsdóttir is currently an adjunct in the School of Science and Engineering, at the Reykjavík University. She earned her BSc in Geography from the University of Iceland where she also completed a graduate study program in historical geography. She finished her MSc in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work experience includes planning work at both the local and national level in Iceland, she has worked at the National Planning Agency, been planning director for the City of Reykjavik for five years, worked as private consultant to local government in Iceland, and on community planning in Wisconsin on behalf of the University Extension.

Gunnar Páll Eydal 
graduated in 2004 with a master´s of Resource Management from the School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University. In 1997, Gunnar graduated with a in Geology from the University of Iceland. He specializes in planning of wilderness and rural areas as well as management systems. In 1997-2001, Gunnar was a research associate at the Science Institute University of Iceland, Division of Geophysics. In 2005-2006, he taught courses in geology and environmental management at Ísafjörður College. Since 2006, Gunnar has been working at Eik - planning and environmental consulting and is located in Ísafjörður. Eik is currently directing several regional and municipal planning projects of coastal areas. 

Georg Haney holds a MSc in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland and also has a background in mining engineering. He has worked for the Westfjords Natural History Institute (Náttúrustofa Vestfjarða) as a project manager and research specialist, and with the Wilderness Society Inc., Australias biggest grass roots NGO in Tasmania. Currently, he works for the Icelandic Marine Research Istitute

Guest lecturer

Further reading

Readings and further readings posted on class website.