Icelandic Society and Environment

Elective Course | 2 ECTS | Námskeið: CMM 28

Kennari: Karl Benediktsson

Námskeiðslýsing í kennsluskrá

Um námskeiðið

The course provides students with an overview of the relations between environment and society in Iceland – a country that is somewhat different in many aspects from its neighbours to both east and west; yet very much part of global commodity movements and political structures, and subject to the same processes that are transforming environments worldwide. The teaching approach will include a mix of lectures, group discussions and workshops, with emphasis on active participation by students. Using the lens of political ecology, we will explore how natural resources, both terrestrial and marine, have supported habitation of the country through the ages. The impact of natural hazards on demographic history and settlement patterns will be discussed. The rapid modernisation of Iceland during the 20th century is outlined. The main issues and current controversies relating to resource use and environmental management are identified and critically analysed.


Karl Benediktsson is Professor of Geography at the University of Iceland. He studied in Iceland (for BS) and New Zealand (for MA), before finishing a PhD in Human Geography at the Australian National University in Canberra with research on rural development in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. His research and writings (see:  have touched on diverse topics, including rural development in Iceland; bicycling infrastructure in Reykjavík; animal geographies; politics of invasive life; and landscapes of renewable energy. In his spare time he likes to go fishing for cod in the bay outside his home village, Reykjavík, as well as hiking and bicycle travelling. He also has a soft spot for Russian/Soviet post-punk music.