ASTK15434U  COURSE: ’Greenland at the Crossroads: Climate Change, Emerging Security Issues and Developing Power Relations in the Arctic

Volume 2016/2017

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS
Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS


This course’s point of departure is the question of what Greenlandic actors can do with the overall ambitions of economic development and, eventually, statehood when facing significant challenges and opportunities in the context of a changing Arctic. Ongoing climate changes have resulted in a wide range of emerging security issues and in developments of power relations within the Arctic, which are necessary to address for a thorough understanding of Greenland’s aspirations. Security issues are explored within a widened approach focusing on both environmental, economic, political, cultural and the military sector in the Arctic. These issues are related to developing regional power relations characterized by growing interests from non-Arctic states, unanswered geopolitical questions, and indigenous peoples’ postcolonial ambitions of increased autonomy. Within this context, the course will discuss scenarios for development in Greenland with particular focus on the relations with Denmark.

Learning Outcome

The course objective is to enable students to demonstrate knowledge of the main strands of the scientific literature, reports and white papers, to apply theories and analyze 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.


    Joan Nymand Larsen and Gail Fondahl (eds.) (2015). Arctic Human Development Report. Regional Processes and Global Linkages. Nordic Council of Ministers  [AHDR (2015)], pp. 29-52  (available online at: http:/​/​​10.6027/​TN2014-567).

    Lawson W. Brigham, (2014), “Afterword. Think again – The Arctic”. In: Barry Scott Zellen & Lawson W. Brigham (edt.), The Fast-Changing Arctic: Rethinking Arctic Security for a Warmer World, Calgary, Alberta: Calgary University Press, pp. 369-376 (available online at REX).

    The Economist (2012) The Melting North, Special Report: The Arctic, pp.1-14.


    AMAP (2011). Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA): Climate Change and the Cryosphere. Oslo: Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Chapter 10, pp. 1-34) (Grete K. Hovelsrud et al., "Arctic Societies, Cultures, and Peoples in a Changing Cryosphere") (available online).

    Lene Kielsen Holm (2010). "Sila-Inuk: Study of the Impacts of Climate Change in Greenland". Igor Krupnik, Claudio Aporta, Shari Gearheard, Gita J. Laidler and Lene Kielsen Holm (eds), SIKU: Knowing Our Ice Documenting Inuit Sea Ice Knowledge and Use, Dordrecht: Springer Verlag, 145-160 (available online at REX).

    Palosaari, Teemu & Tynkkynen, Nina (2015), ‘Arctic securitization and climate change’, Chapter  5 in: Leif Christian Jensen & Geir Hønneland (2015): Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic, pp. 87-104, Edward Elgar.


    Lassi Heininen (2012). State of the Arctic Strategies and Policies – A Summary. Lassi Heininen (ed.), Arctic Yearbook 2012. Akureyri, Iceland: Northern Research Forum, 2-47. (Available from http:/​/​

    [The Governments of] Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands (2011): Kingdom of Denmark Strategy for the Arctic 2011-2020. DOI: http:/​/​​en/​~/​media/​UM/​English-site/​Documents/​Politics-and-diplomacy/​Greenland-and-The-Faroe-Islands/​Arctic%20strategy.pdf, pp. 7-13.

    Rosamond, Annika Bergman: The Kingdom of Denmark and the Arctic, Chapter 25 in: Leif Christian Jensen & Geir Hønneland (2015): Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic, pp. 501-516, Edward Elgar.

    Steinberg, P.E. (2015). U.S. Arctic Policy: Reproducing Hegemony in a Maritime Region. In International Relations and the Arctic: Understanding Policy and Governance. Murray, R.W. & Dey Nuttall, A. Cambria. 165-190

    Zysk, Katarzyna (2015), ‘Russia turns north, again: interests, policies and the search for coherence’, Chapter 22 in: Leif Christian Jensen & Geir Hønneland (2015): Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic, pp. 437-461, Edward Elgar.

    Hønneland, Geir & Jensen, Leif Christian: ‘Norway’s approach to the Arctic: policies and discourse’, Chapter 23 in: Leif Christian Jensen & Geir Hønneland (2015): Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic, pp. 462-481, Edward Elgar.

    Heather Exner-Pirot & Joelle Plouffe (2015), ‘Polar opposites: Time for a 180 turn in Canada’s Arctic policy’, iPolitics, December 16 2015. URL: http:/​/​​2015/​12/​16/​polar-opposites-time-for-a-180-turn-in-canadas-arctic-policy/​


    Klaus Dodds (2014). Geopolitics. A very short introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1-21 (available online at REX).

    Jeppe Strandsbjerg (2012), ‘Cartopolitics, Geopolitics and Boundaries in the Arctic’, Geopolitics, Oct 2012, Vol.17(4), pp.818-842 (available via REX)

    Knecht, Sebastian – Keil, Kathrin, 2013: “Arctic Geopolitics Revisited: Spatialising Governance in the Circumpolar North”, The Polar Journal, Vol. 3, Issue 1, pp. 178-203.

    Heininen, Lassi. “Northern Geopolitics: Actors, Interests and Processes in the circumpolar Arctic.” In: Polar Geopolitics: Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes. Edited by Richard C. Powell and Klaus Dodds. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, Massaschusetts, 2014, p. 241-258.

    Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen (2015), ‘Carving up the Arctic: The Continental Shelf Process between International Law and Geopolitics’. In: Heininen, Lassi; Exner-Pirot, Heather & Plouffe, Joël (eds.), Arctic Yearbook 2015: Arctic Governance and Governing. Akureyri, Iceland: Northern Research Forum. DOI: http:/​/​​scholarly-papers-2015/​44-security-geopolitics/​179-carving-up-the-arctic-the-continental-shelf-process-between-international-law-and-geopolitics




    2.Nils Wang (2013), Arctic Security: An Equation with Multiple Unknowns, In: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, Vol. 15, Nr. 2, 2013, s. 16-30. DOI: http:/​/​​portal/​da/​publications/​arctic-security(5c5c8cc9-00f1-4f16-b3d6-4a507f6355dd).html

    Adam Worm (2011). Arctic Security. A Greenlandic Perspective. James Kraska (ed.), Arctic Security in an Age of Climate Change, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Ch. 2, pp. 20-32 (DOI: http:/​/​​10.1017/​CBO9780511994784.011)

    Scott Borgerson, (2008). Arctic Meltdown: The Economic and Security Implications of Global Warming. Foreign Affairs, 87(2), 63-77.

    Scott Borgerson (2013). The coming Arctic boom. Foreign Affairs, 92(4), pp. 76-89

    Andreas Østhagen (2014), ‘Ukraine Crisis and the Arctic: Penalties or Reconciliation?’, The Arctic Institute, 30 April 2014. DOI: http:/​/​​2014/​04/​impact-of-ukraine-crisis-on-Arctic.html

    Mikkel Runge Olesen (2014), ’After Ukraine: Keeping the Arctic Stable’, DIIS Policy Brief. DOI: http:/​/​​node/​4219

    Mikkel Runge Olesen (2014), Cooperation or conflict in the Arctic: A Literature Review, DIIS Working Paper. DOI: http:/​/​​node/​4217

    Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen (2014), ‘“Arctic-vism” in Practice: The Challenges Facing Denmark’s Political-Military Strategy in the High North’. In: Heininen, Lassi; Exner-Pirot, Heather & Plouffe, Joël (eds.), Arctic Yearbook 2014. Akureyri, Iceland: Northern Research Forum. DOI:

    Chater and W. Greaves. 2014. “Security Governance in the Arctic,” in Jim Sperling, ed, Handbook on Governance and Security. Northampton: Edward Elgar: 123-147. (Online access via REX).



    Linda Jakobson and Seong-Hyon Lee (2013). The North East Asian states’ interests in the Arctic and possible cooperation with the Kingdom of Denmark. Stockholm: SIPRI. DOI http:/​/​​research/​security/​arctic/​arcticpublications/​NEAsia-Arctic.pdf

    Tonami, A. (2014). The Arctic policy of China and Japan: multi-layered economic and strategic motivations. The Polar Journal, 4(1) , pp.105-126.

    Bennett, Mia (2015): How China Sees the Arctic: Reading Between Extraregional and Intraregional Narratives, Geopolitics, Volume 20,  Issue 3, 2015. DOI: http:/​/​​doi/​abs/​10.1080/​14650045.2015.1017757

    Bennett, Mia (2014): “The Maritime Tiger: Exploring South Korea’s Interests and Role in the Arctic.” Strategic Analysis 38(6), 886-903. DOI: http:/​/​​doi/​abs/​10.1080/​09700161.2014.952935

    Lackenbauer, P. Whitney & Manicom, James (2015), ‘Asian states and the Arctic: national perspectives on regional governance’, Chapter 26 in: Leif Christian Jensen & Geir Hønneland (2015): Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic, pp. 517-532, Edward Elgar.


    The full list will be awailable in Absalon


Forelæsning, studenteroplæg, ekskursioner, inddragelse af eksterne oplægsholdere.
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • 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
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28