Friday 21. November 2014

The Westfjord region a popular destination with foreign field schools

[mynd 1 h]Amongst other tasks, the University Centre offers assistance to foreign universities in organizing field school stays in the Westfjords. Most groups are from universities in the USA or Canada and some of these have become regulars with the Centre.

The month of June was busy as we welcomed two field schools. Our first guests were a group of 29 students from the School for International Traning (SIT)/World Learning, in Vermont, USA. Being the eighth group to visit the Centre, SIT students have become regular guests. They are enrolled in a 7-week long programme, Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics which is taught entirely in Iceland. Three weeks were spent in the Westfjords where students had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of our culture and language by staying with local families for two weeks. Like last summer Astrid Fehling acted as Programme Director for the ST group. Fehling is a University Centre alumni and a part-time teacher at the Centre.


[mynd 2 h]Students from the Dept. of Nordic Studies of the Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany were the second group to arrive. Out of a single week spent in Iceland, the group enjoyed a four-day long tour of the Westfjords region. Included was a trip to the birdcliffs of Látrabjarg, Europe‘s westernmost point, hiking up to Drangajökull glacier and visiting the enchanting Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft in Hólmavík.   

In August we enjoyed yet another visit by Dr. Phillip Thurtle who was in charge of a group of students from the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington. This was the third group brought here by Dr. Thurtle with students enrolled in the CHID Iceland programme Regeneration: Matter, Myth, and Memory in Iceland. This is a cross-disciplinary study program with an emphasis on the relationship between humans and nature and Icelanders‘ ability to adapt. Lectures included some language instruction and visits to museums and excursions were offered during this ten-day stay in the Westfjords.


[mynd 3 h]The last field school to visit this year was a group from Franklin University Switzerland, an American liberal arts institution. In this case study based course, Understanding Env Issues: Iceland, students explore the interdisciplinary nature of today’s environmental issues at the local, regional, and global levels. The students were e.g. introduced to the activities of the Westfjord Power Company and taken on excursions related to their field as well as getting acquainted with the local culture. One highlight during their four-day long visit was the performance of a pagan ritual ('Ásatrú') that took place outside, beneath the spectacular Northern Lights. The group‘s AD was Prof. Brack Hale, who has previously participated in courses in Icelandic language here at the Centre.


Next year we are looking forward to welcoming at least two groups. Our “old friends“, the Icelandic Field School of the Icelandic Dept. of the University of Manitoba, Canada will be returning in July, lead by Dr. Birna Bjarnadóttir and Peter John Buchan.  These students study medieval and contemporary culture in Iceland, and get the opportunity to meet  scholars, Icelandic writers, poets, and visual artists while in Iceland. Another SIT student group will also visit and so the University Centre will advertise for families willing to host these students. Other groups may of course also annouce their arrival.

For information on travel study and summer schools please visit our webpage. If you are interested in bringing a field school group to the Westfjords, contact Pernilla Rein, Project Manager pernilla(at) to discuss ideas.