COURSE: Greenland at the Crossroads: Climate change, Asian interests in the Arctic and developments in Greenland

Course content

The course will consider what Greenlandic actors can do with their overall ambitions of economic development and, eventually, statehood facing several big challenges stemming from internal and external pressures in the changing geopolitical context of the Arctic: Which ideas and  instruments of governance, economic resources, nation building and state formation is available for Greenland in the present circumstances? Ongoing climate changes have catapulted Greenland into the proclaimed role of the messenger of the rapid changes going on in the Arctic as a warning of future challenges globally. At the same time, Greenland is a gate to opportunities that the Arctic offers a growing world population with growing demands for resources that the climate change is reported to make more accessible.

The course will discuss scenarios for development in Greenland within the context of developments in the Arctic and in relations between Greenland and Denmark by focusing on dynamics in three areas of drastic change: Continuing climate change, increasing Asian interests in the Arctic together with the resulting governance implications for Greenland. Thus, the course will focus on possible answers to these intrusive questions for Greenland’s future: How to reform the Greenland economy and make it sustainable, how to make Greenland a natural resource exporter, including export of uranium, and maintain environmental, social and political sustainability, how to make Greenland a sovereign state, economically and politically independent from Denmark, and maintain its independence from other foreign states and multinational companies and retain Greenland as a safe and secure place? The course structure:

  1. Delimitations and characteristics of the Arctic and Greenland

  2. Climate change and impact on societies in the Arctic

  3. Potentials for extractive industries in Greenland

  4. New shipping routesand maritime security in Greenland

  5. Asia and implication of Asian interests in the Arctic

Arctic governance and Greenland-Denmark relations



Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS

Learning outcome

Knowledge: The course objective is to enable students to demonstrate knowledge of the main strands of the scientific literature, reports and white papers within political theory, comparative politics and international relations

Skills: The course objective is to enable students to apply theories and analyse one or more cases comparing single aspect or/and asses the interactions of several aspects, and be able to make informed, analytical evaluations of the developments, present situation or/and future perspectives.

Competences: The course objective is to enable students to fulfil academic functions in public and private enterprises, and adequately handle these in national and international contexts, and successfully to continue their education at the postgraduate level.

The teaching will be based on the principle of ‘student-centred learning’ and take the form of lectures, student presentations and discussions as well as presentations by invited guests and visits at institutions dealing with different aspects of developments in the Arctic. Feedback and advice on the basis of a 1-3 pages synopsis/abstract of the final assignment submitted during the course.

The reading list will be composed of articles from i.a. these volumes:

Joan Nymand Larsen and Gail Fondahl (eds.), Arctic Human Development Report. Regional Processes and Global Linkages. Nordic Council of Ministers, 2015 (available online at:

Birgitta Evengård et al. The new Arctic, Springer Publishers, 2015 (available online at

Feedback will be provided in continuation of student presentations and on the basis of the synopsis/abstract of the final assignment submitted during the course.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28