New fellowship in Ísafjörður

The newly founded institute Grimsson Center hosted a symposium at the University Centre on Monday 28 November, to introduce a new, international fellowship located in Ísafjörður.
Grímshús in Túngata is the childhood home of Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former president of Iceland and founder of the Arctic Circle Organization. It will henceforth be available as an accommodation for academics who get granted a Nordurslod fellowship to dwell in Ísafjörður for 2-6 weeks.

The symposium drew a large audience
The symposium drew a large audience
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Pics or it didn't happen!

The Arctic Circle Assembly was the big event of October, as usual but there's plenty of things happening in November too. Most of all, applications to study at UW will open this month, so spread the word if you know of someone considering coastal studies in a beautiful place in Iceland!

We are over half-way into the autumn term and students are very busy and concentrated on their studies but of course they try to enjoy themselves too. Let's take a look back on the fabulous time we had at the Arctic Circle Assembly which took place in Reykjavik in beautiful but cold weather. 

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First day of Arctic Circle Assembly

The annual Arctic Circle Assembly started today in Harpa, Reykjavík. The assemblly is an integrated part of the school year of University Centre of the Westfjords as it's mandatory part of the course Arctic Ocean Governance but commonly, UW alumni and academics from UW also speak at the ACA. 

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UW at the European Researchers' Night

UW took part in the European Researchers' Night which was organized by RANNÍS, this past Saturday in Reykjavík. Matthias Kokorsch, academic director of CRD, and Jóhanna Gísladóttir, environmental manager from the Agricultural University of Iceland, presented their research project on small communities and the societal impacts of avalanche risk, using 3D models of the Westfjords to explain.

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Autumn Hike on Sunday

As part of the ongoing Icelandic friendly society campaign, which UW was rewarded for by the Icelandic Language Committee yesterday, we'd like to remind everybody of the hike this coming Sunday, 2 October. It's a hike where the Icelandic language will play a large role while making sure that those still learning the language can follow. 


250 kg of plastic litter collected during UArctic's Summer School

Three students and one teacher from UW participated in the UArctic's Summer School "Plastic in the Marine Arctic - from source to solution". The summer course was held in Nuuk in Greenland where participants were educated about plastic marine litter in the Arctic. 

This was the first time that the University Centre of the Westfjords took part in an initiative by UArctic but definitely not the last time as both the students and staff member were pleased with the outcome. "UW participation in UArctic initiatives like this course are exciting opportunities for both students and staff. UW is one of the smaller UArctic institutions so we really benefit from collaboration, it gives our students the chance to meet new people and grow their professional network, " says Catherine Chambers, research manager at UW.

Participants went on excursions and collected around 250 kilos of plastic, visited a waste handling facility and did research work in a laboratory on microplastic in seabirds as well as projects on environmental plastics for improved source allocations, under guidance of experts from some of the Arctic States, such as Catherine.


"It was very rewarding for me to work with a great team of co-instructors. We learned so much from each other and it is so clear how much work is to be done in marine litter research and teaching. The enthusiasm from the early-career students shows the demand for graduate-level courses in marine litter and we are already thinking about ways to keep up the momentum from this course.:
Photo by GRID-Arendal
Photo by GRID-Arendal
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Student's Mental Map of Ísafjörður

Master students from the Coastal Marine Management program had a very interesting project on Monday. They hiked up to Naustahvilft, which is a very popular hike with the locals. It is often referred to as the Troll seat, because of an old story about a giant troll that is supposed to have sat down on top of the mountain to rest, leaving a huge pit in the side of the mountain.

Autumn Programme of the campaign „Íslenskuvænt samfélag – Við erum öll almannakennarar“.

The University Centre of the Westfjords, the Life Long Learning Centre of the Westfjords and the municipality of Ísafjörður, Ísafjarðarbær, together with a number of individuals, started a campaign earlier this year called „Íslenskuvænt samfélag – Við erum öll almannakennarar.“ This campaign is meant for people who want to speak Icelandic: Both those who are still learning Icelandic and want to use every opportunity to speak the language, and those who already speak Icelandic (as a mother tongue) and would like to practice to speak clearly and slowy and develop patience.

The Forgotten Park

Alan Deverell, a UW alumni, holds a lunchtime lecture at Vísindaport on Friday 9 September. Alan has incredible experience from working in Africa and often shares his valuable knowledge in lectures, such as at a TEDx talk

“Originally from the UK, I came to Iceland in 2009 as a very 'mature' student to study on the CMM programme at UW.  Despite graduating from a programme focused on the marine and coastal environment, my first job was running a project in the middle of Africa. I have been working in various countries in Africa ever since, none of which has been anywhere near the ocean!

Currently the main focus of my work is protected area management. This involves supporting wildlife authorities to develop programmes to manage their parks and to provide capacity building for rangers and conservation staff. When not working in Africa I spend a lot of time in Iceland although I try my best to programme the projects in Africa for the winter months.

In this talk I will cover the latest project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Maiko National Park has received little support or recognition since its creation in 1970. 

Despite containing one of the greatest concentrations of biodiversity on the planet, it remains little known and is, for all intents and purposes, a forgotten park. Like many protected areas in the DRC, Maiko is now under serious threat from illegal resource extraction, poaching and political instability. Covering an area of over 10,000 square kilometres, with no roads or infrastructure and occupied by a number of armed groups, the conservation challenges facing the park are huge.

Yet now one of these armed groups, who have been occupying the Maiko forest for almost 60 years, may provide some of the answers to protecting this environmentally important landscape and ensuring its survival for future generations.”

Lunch Lectures of Vísindaport are open to the public and start at 12:10pm in the cafeteria at the University Centre of the Westfjords. Alan’s lecture will be in English and streamed via Zoom.

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Fun and Academics

This week has been a bit unconventional at UW. The new students have been settling in and the second year students working on their theses and some even preparing for their Master's Defences. 

Yesterday and today, new students are away on a field trip, which has been lots of fun in excellent weather so far, as can be seen on UW's Instagram story. There has even been some sea swimming, believe it or not!

Swimming in the sea - Photo by Matthias Kokorsch
Swimming in the sea - Photo by Matthias Kokorsch
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