Student Innovation Fund project on Arctic terns and Eider ducks highlighted in Agricultural and Farming newspaper article

A team of researchers from University Centre of the Westfjords and University of Iceland have finished a summer project exploring the relationship between Arctic terns, eider ducks, and the land owners that take care of eider farms. This is a unique social-ecological relationship which is mutually beneficial. Farmers take care of the land where eider ducks nest to protect the nests from predators, and Arctic terns who nest near the eider farms benefit from this protection from humans, and they can serve as alarm bells, warning the farmers if a predator is nearby.

Arctic tern feeding a chick. Photos by Freydís Vigfúsdóttir.
Arctic tern feeding a chick. Photos by Freydís Vigfúsdóttir.
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Blue Economy course and two more new courses offered soon

Earlier this winter the University Centre was visited by Patrick Heidtkamp, Professor at Southern Connecticut State University and an expert on Geography and Marine Sciences. Together with the program director of Coastal Communities and Regional Development, Matthias Kokorsch he set up a brand-new course for the Coastal Communities and Regional Development program called The Blue Economy and Coastal Communities.

Matthias Kokorsch and Patrick Heidtkamp developed a new course on the Blue Economy that will be on offer next academic year.
Matthias Kokorsch and Patrick Heidtkamp developed a new course on the Blue Economy that will be on offer next academic year.

Field trips in Maritime Anthropology and Sustainable Aquaculture

Field trips and experiential learning is a key element in the teaching methods of our two masters programs in Coastal and Marine Management and Coastal Communities and Regional Development. We try to integrate as much of this as possible into the curriculum to give students better practical insights into various subjects they learn in the classroom.

Teachers joined forces in the simultaneously running elective courses Maritime Anthropology and Sustainable Aquaculture, and went on a day trip to the neighboring village Þingeyri in Dýrafjörður to explore aquaculture, community development and innovation as well as the rich marine related history of the village.

Students on board the feed barge heading off the the sea cages in Dýrafjörður.
Students on board the feed barge heading off the the sea cages in Dýrafjörður.
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Community Focused Conservation Research on Salmon

Master’s students at the University Centre of the Westfjords may choose to conduct their thesis research wherever they like in the world. This goes for both the new Coastal Communities and Regional Development program as well as the established Coastal and Marine Management program. Many students choose to conduct their thesis research in the Westfjords or in other places in Iceland while others choose to venture to head back to their home countries or somewhere else in the world. Two great examples are Jade Steel and Rheanna Drennen from the Coastal and Marine Management class of 2018. Both of them went back to British Columbia, Canada, after finishing their coursework in Ísafjörður to work on community-focused conservation research on salmon. 

Rheanna Drennen on her last day in Iceland before heading back to Canada to  work on her thesis.
Rheanna Drennen on her last day in Iceland before heading back to Canada to work on her thesis.
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What are UW students doing this summer?

Master’s students at the University Centre of the Westfjords are finishing up their coursework and heading into their thesis research time period. Every year, students have the opportunity to design their own project anywhere in the world, and out of the 22 students in this year’s cohort, 11 will conduct their thesis research in Iceland. Of those 11, five will be doing their research here in the Westfjords and we are highlighting their projects here.

Our students are conducting some interesting research this summer.
Our students are conducting some interesting research this summer.

Do you know where the fish on your plate comes from?

We often forget to ask ourselves, “Where is the food that ends up on my plate coming from?” However, with increased awareness of the impacts that the transport and production of food on an industrial scale has on the environment, more and more people are starting to ask that question and look for innovative solutions as well as local alternatives to reduce the impact of their own consumption pattern.  

Jennifer Grace Smith conducted a study on the implications of Local Food Networks in the Westfjords of Iceland.
Jennifer Grace Smith conducted a study on the implications of Local Food Networks in the Westfjords of Iceland.
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Ever wondered what to do with a degree in Resource Management?

This is Ellyn Davidson, an aspiring marine ecologist from Canada who is passionate about the Arctic. She graduated in 2016 from the Coastal and Marine Management Program at UW with a Master of Resource Management (MRM).

This is Ellyn Davidson, an aspiring marine ecologist from Canada who is passionate about the Arctic. She graduated in 2016 from the Coastal and Marine Management Program at UW
This is Ellyn Davidson, an aspiring marine ecologist from Canada who is passionate about the Arctic. She graduated in 2016 from the Coastal and Marine Management Program at UW
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Humpback Whale Research with Drone Technology

The natural environment surrounding UW provides students with a plethora of research opportunities, all they have to do to make it happen is to have vision and determination. Take for example Justin Brown, originally from Michigan, and now a second year master´s student at the University Center of the Westfjords. Justin´s research focuses on whales in the Westfjords. His summer was spent working on the whale watching boat Ölver, run by tour company Amazing Westfjords, where he also mapped the occurrence and migration of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord system. 

Justin Brown hands over the Mavic Air Pro drone to Peter Weiss the director of the University Centre.
Justin Brown hands over the Mavic Air Pro drone to Peter Weiss the director of the University Centre.
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Climate Change and Sustainability: CMM´s Trip to the Arctic Circle

Each year UW offers two courses centered on the attendance of Arctic Circle Assembly, the largest Arctic gathering of its kind. In these two Coastal and Marine Management courses, “Arctic Ocean Governance” and “Communicating Climate Change”, students undertake projects based on the sessions they attend at the Arctic Circle Assembly. Last weekend Coastal and Marine Management students, students from the new SIT master’s program Climate Change and Global Sustainability, as well as undergraduate students from the SIT semester program on climate change and the Arctic, attended the Arctic Circle Assembly. The trip gave students the chance to network with and gain insight from over 2,000 academics, diplomats, and other representatives from the public and private sectors from all over the Arctic. The students attended a multitude of cross disciplinary forums and had the chance to meet influential leaders from both the academic and political spectrum. To mention one highlight students had the opportunity to have a private meeting with leading climate scientist Professor Stefan Rahmstorf and former president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.

Students, staff and faculty at the Arctic Circle in front of Icebergs from Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq Municipality in Greenland.
Students, staff and faculty at the Arctic Circle in front of Icebergs from Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq Municipality in Greenland.
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10 years SIT Study Abroad in Ísafjörður - Alumni meet with this year's field school

Even though the University Center of the Westfjords (UW) is still a relatively young institution, some of its activities have already put down long roots. For the first time now, alumni from the School for International Training (SIT) have met in Ísafjörður for a ten years reunion to reminisce in good memories.

 

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