French interns at UW explore changes in the Icelandic sea

There have been many new faces at UW in the past few days. 13 students from SeaTech, the French school of engineering, are interns at UW for a total of 17 weeks. The interns are master’s students in marine engineering and are undergoing training here under the guidance of Björn Erlingsson.

SeaGirls: What the sea means to me

On Friday, May 17th, the permanent online exhibition of the SeaGirls project opens. The SeaGirls project gave girls in Iceland disposable film cameras for the summer to understand their relationships and perspectives of the ocean. This project was a collaboration between the University Centre of the Westfjords, Vestfjörður Regional Museum, Hversdagsafnið and funding was provided from Rannís Nýsköpunarsjóður and Uppbyggðingarsjóður as part of the growing international dialogue on gender and the ocean.

UW hosts summer school in Iceland

UW is part of an international cooperation, which organizes annual summer schools. Each year we visit one of the partnering countries and learn about their approaches on "smart shrinking" as a development approach for de-populating regions. "smart shrinking" is an approach that accepts depopulation and employs it actively to create smaller but better living places.This year UW is the hosting country and the group, seven CRD students, Matthias, and 24 students from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Finland, has been in Akureyri since Sunday.

Two UW students receive grant to survey humpback whales

Two UW students, Benedek Regoczi and Laura Lyall, have received a grant from Rannís, the student innovation fund, for a total of 2.040.000 ISK. Brack Hale, program director of the Coastal Marine Management master’s program applied for the grant on behalf of the University Centre of the Westfjords for the project “Monitoring whales to inform responsible shipping.” The project will be in collaboration with Borea, Sjóferðir, Húsavík, Vestmannaeyjar, and Whale Wise.

Centre of regional studies emerging at the University Centre of the Westfjords

On Thursday morning staff of Icelandic Regional Development Institute (Byggðastofnun) had a look on University Centre of the Westfjords' recently inaugurated new student dormitory. Although Byggðastofnun had not been involved in financing this development, visiting staff showed it a lot of interest, as this is indeed one way to foster regional development.

It's thesis defense season!

It's thesis defense season again at the University Centre of the Westfjords. The first defense starts on Wednesday 17th of April. During this defense season 9 students will defend their theses in the coming weeks with many interesting topics. The defenses are open to the public and people are also invited to join through zoom. The links can be found in the table below.

UW students visit mayor of Bolungarvík

Recently, students taking the “Migration and Population Development” course at UW got the chance to have a meeting with Jón Páll, the mayor of Bolungarvík. Bolungarvík is a coastal town, 15 minutes away from Ísafjörður. They were shown around the municipality building and got to peek into the office of the Natural Science Institute of the Westfjords, Blámi, and the Research Centre of the University of Iceland housed in the same building. After the tour, they had an interesting talk in the mayor's office about the town’s population development and investments, and got an informative presentation. Jón Páll introduced them to a project called “Bolungarvík 1000+” which aimed to increase the population of Bolungarvík from 950 inhabitants to over 1000. It was a response to pressure that was put on small communities with under 1000 inhabitants to merge. Jón Páll said that Bolungarvík is a very independent town, and they didn’t consider the option to merge with another municipality and decided instead to increase the population to over 1000 people. They were successful and on April 13th 2023 the population reached 1000 inhabitants. He said they did this by investing and putting effort into three big pillars.

UW alum Leah Shamlian wins thesis award

Leah Shamlian is an UW alum who recently won the Tom McKnight & Joan Clemons Paper Award for her master’s thesis. The award was presented at the annual Association for Pacific Coast Geographers Conference, and it is given to outstanding papers. The committee, which is made up of 5 to 7 faculty from a variety of universities and colleges, looks for an overall knowledge of the topic presented, the promise shown when the student presents, and their response to questions. The award was created by Tom McKnight and Joan Clomens.

National survey in Iceland on place attachment, climate change awareness, and risk perception

Emma Dexter, a UW student in the Coastal Communities and Regional Development master’s program at UW, is currently conducting a nationwide survey in Iceland as a part of her master’s project. The survey measures place attachment, climate change awareness, and risk perception for people living in Iceland. The findings will help inform sustainable development strategies on a local and national scale and suggest how individuals’ perceptions might be better integrated into these plans.

Researching green ammonia for maritime use in Ísafjörður

UW has a visitor this week from a researcher conducting field work in Ísafjörður for his master’s thesis. Matei Filip Popescu is a 26-year-old master’s student in the Environment and Natural Resources program at the University of Iceland. He has been staying at UW, where he uses the remote working office to conduct interviews with locals. His thesis adviser is Dr. David Cook, who is an instructor at UW and adjunct lecturer at the University of Iceland. It is through his connection to UW that Matei came here to us. His master’s thesis is on the social acceptance of green ammonia for maritime uses in Ísafjörður. He is conducting interviews with local institutions, businesses, and members of the community to understand and consider a broad spectrum of opinions, worries, or excitements about the idea of developing a green ammonia hub in Ísafjörður for maritime use.

Talking about science

Today was the last day of the two week-master’s course “Talking Science: A Practical Guide to Creative Science Communication.” The course was taught from February 5th to February 16th by Jenny Rock, instructor at UW, and it is part of the master’s program as an elective course for both Coastal Marine Management and Coastal Communities and Regional Development. The course is about communicating scientific content within academia and more importantly, beyond academia. Students learn creative ways to communicate research in various contexts. The course is a hands-on workshop and draws from a range of fields to help students communicate about diverse science and social issues.

Upcoming lunch lectures at UW

A longstanding feature at the University Centre are regular public lectures, called ‘Vísindaport’. They are 45 minute lunch lectures on Fridays, held at the University Centre, and are usually short introductions to varied research projects, followed by an informal discussion session. Below you can see the upcoming lunch lectures in February and March:

UW receives Jules Verne grant and a visit from the French Ambassador

UW was honored to receive the Jules Verne grant, which is a fund that supports scholarly exchange between Icelandic and French institutions. The grant is led by UW research manager Dr. Catherine Chambers and Dr. Denis Laborde, ethnologist at the French National Institute of Scientific Research. The project aims to explore the value of the shared Icelandic-Basque maritime cultural heritage as a tool for sustainable community development, and is connected to the larger BASQUE project underway in Djúpavík.

Another UW student receives a thesis grant

Emma Dexter, an UW student in the Coastal Communities and Regional Development master’s program, has received a grant from the Regional Development Agency of Iceland for her final project. She has received ISK 330.000 to research the place attachment of people who live in areas at risk from natural disasters in Iceland. She will also explore people's awareness of climate change and their assessment of disaster risk. In addition, she wants to know whether there are differences in these factors between places depending on whether people live in areas with a risk of natural disasters or not. She will do this by conducting a national survey in Iceland.

Three UW students receive a grant for thesis research

Three UW students have received a grant from “Hafsjó af Hugmyndir” for their thesis work. Hafsjór af Hugmyndum is an innovation grant for university students organised by Sjávarútvegklasi Vestfjarðar in collaboration with Vestfjarðastofa. The grant is intended for undergraduate or graduate students at an Icelandic university for a final project whose goal is to create increased value from marine products or to promote business life in the Westfjords.

Place attachment and avalanche threat

Matthias Kokorsch, academic director of the Coastal Communities and Regional Development master’s program at UW and Jóhanna Gísladóttir, from the Agricultural University of Iceland (Landbúnaðarháskóli Íslands), have been researching the interaction between place attachment and natural disasters with the CliCNord project. The CliCNord project examines how small rural communities in the Nordic countries understand their own situation, how they handle adverse events, and under what circumstances they need help from the established system and civil society organizations. There are different hazards that affect local communities across the Nordic countries that are regarded as a direct consequence of climate change, like coastal flooding, cloudbursts, wildfires, slush avalanches, and flash floods for example. In the CliCNord project, there are 8 different cases in 5 countries: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

Give Icelandic A Chance receives the European Language Label

The campaign Gefum íslensku séns or “Give Icelandic a chance” has been awarded the European Language Label. The award encourages the development of new techniques and initiatives in the field of language learning and teaching. The label is awarded to the most innovative language learning projects in each EU member state and third country associated to Erasmus+. The campaign Give Icelandic a Chance received the award from the Ministry of Education and Children's Affairs and Rannís in collaboration with the European Commission. You can read more about the European Language Label here.

Introducing research in the Westfjords

On Friday, November 10th, the weekly lunch lecture was held outside the walls of the University Centre of the Westfjords for the first time. The event was held at Blábankinn in Þingeyri, where researchers from the Westfjords gave short lectures about their latest work. The researchers are part of the Westfjords Research Association , which is a group of people who conduct research in the Westfjords and the surrounding area. The speakers were from the University Centre of the Westfjords (UW), the University of Iceland and the Natural Science Institute of the Westfjords.

Arneshreppur gives Icelandic a chance

The community center in Trékyllisvík in Árneshreppur in the Strandir region was lively during the weekend when the „Give Icelandic a Chance“ campaign was presented. According to Ólafur Guðsteinn Kristjánsson, coordinator of Icelandic studies at the University Centre of the Westfjords, the goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the process of learning Icelandic and how we as a society can contribute to people's progress in Icelandic by giving learners the opportunity to use the language on as many occasions as possible. The aim of the campaign is to promote increased opportunities for people to use Icelandic in the widest and most diverse way possible, so that those who learn the subject, no matter where they are, receive the support and understanding of those who are native speakers. The campaign is supported by the University Centre of the Westfjords, the Center for Lifelong learning and the municipality of Ísafjörður.

Exploring Iceland‘s Coastal Future

Students from the University Centre of the Westfjords recently went on a field trip to picturesque locations near Ísafjörður. The student group was a combination of two courses taught in two different master‘s programs. One of them was „People and the sea: Geographical perspectives” which focuses on understanding the connection between people and the ocean with terms from geography. The other was "Coastal and Marine Management: Theory and Tools", where students learn about theories, policy making, legalization and tools in marine and coastal management. Since the two courses touch on similar topics it was a perfect opportunity for a joint field trip.

The first group of students settles into UW‘s new student housing

The University Centre of the Westfjords marked a significant milestone yesterday as the first group of students moved into their brand-new student housing. The student housing complex is made up of two separate buildings, one of which is now ready for occupancy. The other building, which is still being built, will be ready in the fall, with plans for an official announcement and celebratory events once both buildings are fully operational.

Bjarney Ingibjörg joins UW as project manager

The University Centre of the Westfjords is delighted to announce that Bjarney Ingibjörg Gunnlaugsdóttir is the new project manager at UW. She is born and raised in Ísafjörður and has been an integral part of the local music community. Her love for music was nurtured from early age ever since she studied at the local music school. Later she studied at the Complete Vocal Institute in Chopenhagen, Denmark. She has been a music teacher for 30 years but recently changed paths.

Cruise ships and common eelgrass - defenses starting tomorrow

The season of theses defenses is upon us again. In the next couple of weeks, 16 students will defend their master's theses at UW, with a smorgasboard of interesting topics.

Our Community


Catching up with alumni: Tyler Wacker

Welcome to our “catching up with alumni” series where we introduce you to previous UW students over the years. Tyler Wacker is a 33 year old alum who graduated from the Coastal Communities and Regional Development master’s program in 2022. Tyler's hobbies include biking, surfing, and skateboarding.

Reflecting on 2023

A year that had mainly challenging news globally, to say the least – it's even more vital to spotlight the good news and achievements. At the University Centre, there were many moments for us that we will keep in good memories. The biggest milestone for UW was the opening of our new student housing this autumn. Witnessing its transformation from an idea to a tangible reality in just over a year was fantastic. Navigating the complexities of such an ambitious undertaking in a remote setting, with its many unpredictabilities, demanded a lot of collaboration, determination, and patience. This wasn't just a construction project; it was coastal community development in practice.

Adapting to Change

My name is Brittaney Key, and I’m a Fulbright Fellow and master’s student in the Coastal Communities and Regional Development (CRD) program. I chose to come to Iceland for my fellowship specifically because of the CRD program and its unique inclusion of sustainability and development in a rural context.

UW Abroad: Exploring the Baltic with NORDPLUS

This spring, from April 28th to May 14th, a group of 8 UW students had the opportunity to participate in a NORDPLUS trip in the Baltic region, where we joined students from universities in Finland, Lithuania, and Latvia to explore “smart shrinking” strategies for regions experiencing population decline.

The Beauty in Everyday Life - Ísafjörður

Nýlega lauk meistaranámskeiðinu Frá auðlindahagkerfi í aðlöðunarhagkerfi: Sjávarbyggðir á tímum afþreyingar og ferðalaga sem Patrick Maher kennir. Í lok námskeiðsins bjuggu nemendur til myndbönd með þeirra sýn á Ísafjörð og nærumhverfið og útkoman urðu stórskemmtilegar stuttmyndir.

Wake Boarding Westfjords

Nýlega lauk meistaranámskeiðinu Frá auðlindahagkerfi í aðlöðunarhagkerfi: Sjávarbyggðir á tímum afþreyingar og ferðalaga sem Patrick Maher kennir. Í lok námskeiðsins bjuggu nemendur til myndbönd með þeirra sýn á Ísafjörð og nærumhverfið og útkoman urðu stórskemmtilegar stuttmyndir.

A Tale of One Naughty Tourist

Nýlega lauk meistaranámskeiðinu Frá auðlindahagkerfi í aðlöðunarhagkerfi: Sjávarbyggðir á tímum afþreyingar og ferðalaga sem Patrick Maher kennir. Í lok námskeiðsins bjuggu nemendur til myndbönd með þeirra sýn á Ísafjörð og nærumhverfið og útkoman urðu stórskemmtilegar stuttmyndir.

A typical week in the life of two interns in Ísafjörður

Hello we are Hannah and Linda, two students from southern Germany. We are studying Public Administration at the University of Applied Sciences in Kehl. As part of our studies we are doing a three month long internship at the University Centre in Ísafjörður.

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