We were 19 participants in the kick-off workshop, eight of which participated online. The aim of this 2-year UArctic network project is to develop deeper institutional, innovative higher educational collaboration across the Fram Strait from Greenland to Svalbard. The uniqueness of the Nordic high Arctic is the foundation for this ambition, containing the largest climatic gradient in the high Arctic, and at the same time being the hotspot for climatic changes.

The main ambition is to develop a joint Erasmus application, to fund the development of an interdisciplinary master’s degree bridging the Fram Strait, working across this largest high-Arctic gradient with its unique infrastructure. This is only possible making extensive use of the existing large national and international investments made in Svalbard and Greenland, in SIOS (Svalbard Integrated Earth Observing System) and GIOS (Greenland Integrated Observing System). This also allows us to focus on developing and making use of new observation technology and the open data access to the observation series. All SIOS and GIOS members are invited to be involved in this higher educational ambition.

The outcome of the kick-off workshop was an overview of what higher education is ongoing already in the region. We also had a session on how to develop an Erasmus Mundus project led by Aarhus University’s EU office. The Steering Committee was tasked with further developing the idea.

Since the kick-off workshop, the Steering Committee have met online in November and physically 4 January at Copenhagen University for a one-day workshop. During this workshop we discussed how best to develop an Erasmus Mundus application and listened to very valuable experience from a former Erasmus Mundus degree student, PhD student Brandon Whitley from Copenhagen University, recommended by APECS Denmark for us to meet with. We discussed how best to strengthen the societal use of the degree with Associate Professor Carina Ren, who leads Aalborg University’s Arctic interdisciplinary group in Copenhagen. With this start to the EduFramStrait project, we are well on our way into the Erasmus Mundus application development phase, and it was decided in the workshop that Aarhus University will be the main coordinator and leader of the Erasmus Mundus project.

Hanne H. Christiansen, UArctic Chair in Permafrost Physical Processes, University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)


EduFramStrait workshop participants from left to right: Dorthe Søgård (Greenland Institute for Natural Resources), Lise Lotte Sørensen (Aarhus University), Tamer Abu-Alam, (University of Tromsø –  UiT the Arctic University of Norway), Carina Ren (Aalborg University), Brandon Whitley (Copenhagen University) and Colin Stedmon, (Danish Technical University). Not on the photo: Kirsten Christoffersen, (Copenhagen University, participated online) and Hanne H. Christiansen (The University Centre in Svalbard) who took the photo.