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.

Orientation Day 2023

The University Centre of the Westfjords kicked off the new academic year with an exciting Orientation Day for incoming students. Like previous years, the student group is international with a diverse background.

Walk and theatre: A take on Gisla's Saga

The Give Icelandic a Chance events are still in full swing and tomorrow, Tuesday, will see a take on Gislasaga, one of the Icelandic Sagas which partly takes place in Haukadalur by fjord Dýrafjörður. The event is held in collaboration with Kómedíuleikhúsið, the smallest professional theatre group in Iceland.

Icelandic Learners Everywhere in August

As is usual in August, we're all about Icelandic learning these days. Our three week beginners' course began yesterday with 19 participants. The Give Icelandic a Chance campaign is of course also in full swing and its various events suitable for the Icelandic learners, so we want to remind you of the objectives of the campaign; to give those who are learning the language a chance to use it as much as they can and have ability to, be patient, simplify and repeat their sentences and not demand that the learners speak perfect Icelandic. And last but not least, give Icelandic a chance and not shift over to English or some other language right away.

Please take part in a survey for the Westfjords!

University Centre of the Westfjords is asking for the participation of as many residents in the Westfjords as possible in a survey for a research project on place appropriation.

Exciting job opportunity at the University Centre!

School for International Training (SIT) in Vermont, USA, is looking for a new academic director for its study abroad program in Iceland. The job is a renewable, year long position, located at University Centre of the Westfjords in Ísafjörður. Application date is by 10 July and anticipated job start is 1 August. Click here for further information and application form.

A memorable Graduation Ceremony

As usual, the Graduation Ceremony took place on Iceland's National Day, 17th of June - which is the birth date of independense leader Jón Sigurðsson - as part of the celebrations at Hrafnseyri which is the birth place of Jón. This year's cohort was unprecedentelly large, receiving their certificates from the rector of UNAK and the UW graduate caps which are knitted hats with tassles, as a nod to the traditional Icelandic tail-cap.

How can a community support language acquisition?

A symposium in relations to Give Icelandic a Chance took place on Thursday, with a following workshop on Friday. The symposium was titled "How can a community support language acquisition?" and several speakers gave very interesting talks, which goes to show quite an ambition for teaching Icelandic to foreigners so that the language can be of proper use to them and make Icelandic society more accessible.

Students' Short Films

The course From extraction to attraction: Coastal communities in an era of leisure and tourism, which Patrick Maher teaches, finished last week. At the end of the course students made videos highlighting their perspective on Ísafjörður and its surroundings and the results are these three fun short films:

Various events coming up!

The Give Icelandic a Chance campaign continues into the summer and some very interesting events are lined up over the next few weeks, as can be seen on the poster here on the right.

UW's Annual Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of University Centre of the Westfjords was held on Friday 5th of May. Apart from traditional objectives of the Annual Meeting, a new board was elected as well as chair of the representitives' council. Very few changes were made, Dóra Hlín Gísladóttir was re-elected as chair of the council and the UW board remains the same except for a new secretary, as Stefán B. Sigurðsson left the board and Martha Lilja Martensdóttir was voted in to replace him.

Ambassador of Canada visiting UW

Canada's Ambassador to Iceland, Jeannette Menzies, visited the University Centre of the Westfjords today and spoke to both staff and students about continuing, and possibly increasing, collaboration with Canadian institutes. The weather in Ísafjörður was really welcoming so the ambassador joined the students of From Extraction to Attraction: Coastal Communities in an Era of Leisure and Tourism on a walk around town.

Our Community


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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