ASTK15464U COURSE: New threats in the Arctic: Climate change and security risk management of increasing maritime activity in the Arctic

Volume 2016/2017

Elective course in "Security Risk Management

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS




Climate change and global warming results in melting ice in the Arctic, both the Greenland ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice. This is often articulated as opening up opportunities of natural resource extraction and new shipping routes in the Arctic, that will result in increased maritime activities and societal changes. However, together with these opportunities come also the challenges of increased maritime activities that can result in several types of risks in the Arctic - such as risks of pollution and risks of accidents, which generate a need for prevention, preparedness and response in case of oil spill response (OSR) and search and rescue (SAR) operations and institutions in the Arctic. Since the Arctic is such a huge territory with a relatively small number of dispersed stakeholders, there is an increasing need for domestic and transnational cooperation among the Arctic communities and states to prevent conflicts and develop further cooperation.


The course will focus on investigating and assessing possibilities of transborder security risk management and partnership building in the Arctic among the Arctic states and between the Arctic states and states outside the Arctic that recently gained access to the Arctic Council activities as observer states of the Arctic Council and on discussing i.a. gains and losses of a often suggested transformation of the Arctic Council from an intergovernmental forum of deliberations to a legally binding decision making organization.



1) Introduction to the course and literatures

2) The Arctic – History of society, politics and geopolitics

3) Climate Change and societal impacts

4) Security and risk management

5) Geopolitics: Conflict or cooperation

6) Governance: The Arctic between local and global concerns

7) Summing up and feedback

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.

  1. Introduction to the course and literatures


    Geir Hønneland (2013). Introduction. In: Geir Hønneland (ed.) The Politics of the Arctic, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. xiii-xviii.


    Oran R. Young (1985). The age of the Arctic. Foreign Policy, 61 (Winter), 160-179. (E-journal)


    Olav Schram Stokke (2011). Environmental security in the Arctic: The case for multilevel governance. International Journal, 66 (Autumn) 835-848. (E-journal)


  2. The Arctic – History of society, politics and geopolitics


    Kristian Åtland (2008). Mikhail Gorbachev, the Murmansk Initiative, and the Desecuritization of Interstate Relations  in the Arctic, Cooperation and Conflict, 43(3), 289-311. (E-journal)


    Clive Archer (1988). General Features of Political Development and Possibilities for Cooperation in the Arctic, Current Research on Peace and Violence, 11(4), 137-145. (E-journal)


    Olav Schram Stokke (1990). The Northern Environment: Is Cooperation Coming? Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 512 (November), 58-68. (E-journal)


    Njord Wegge (2011). The Political Order in the Arctic: Power Structures, Regimes and Influence, Polar Record, 47 (241), 165-176. (E-journal)


    Rolf Tamnes and Sven G. Holtsmark (2014). The Geopolitics of the Arctic in Historical Perspective. In: Rolf Tamnes and Kristine Offerdal (eds.), Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, London and New York: Routledge, 12-48.


    John McCannon (2013). The history of the Arctic. London: Reaktion Books, 7-26 and 279-307. (E-book)


  3. Climate Changeand societal impacts


    Mark Carey (2012). Climate and history: a critical review of historical climatology and climate change historiography, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Vol.3(3), 233-249. (E-journal)


    Laurence C. Smith and Scott R. Stepenson (2012). New Trans-Arctic shipping routes navigable by midcentury, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), Vol. 110(13),  E1191-E1195. (E-journal)


    IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) (2014). Climate Change 2013, Ch.: Summary for policymakers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1-30. (E-book)


    Katherine Richardson et al. (2009). Synthesis report: Global risks, challenges and decisions, Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, 32-36. (Online)


    NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Center). 2013. NSIDC Sea ice index 2013. Boulder CO: National Snow and Ice Data Center. (Available online at http:/​/​​data/​seaice_index/​)


    Mark Nutall (2012). Tipping Points and the Human World: Living with Change and Thinking about the Future, AMBIO, Vol.41(1), 96-105 (E-journal)


    Iselin Stensdal (2015). Arctic mining: Asian Interests and Opportunities. In: Asian countries and the Arctic future, New Jersey: World Scientific, 155-168. (E-book)


    Arild Moe (2015). International use of the Northern sea route. In: Asian countries and the Arctic future, New Jersey: World Scientific, 107-120. (E-book)


    Elizabeth Elliot-Meisel (2009). Politics, Pride, and Precedent: The United States and Canada in the Northwest Passage, Ocean Development and International Law, 40(2), 204-232. (E-journal)


  4. Security and security risk management


    Paul D. Williams (ed.) (2013). Security Studies: An introduction. London: Routledge 2013, 1-11 (Introduction), 137-154 (Uncertainty), 279-294 (Human security) and 311-323 (Climate change and environmental security). (E-book.)


    Younkyoo Kim and Stephen Blank (2011). The Arctic: A New Issue on Asia's Security Agenda, Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, 23(3), 303-320. (E-journal)


    P.A. Berkman and A.N. Vylegzhanin (2013). Conclusions: Building common interests in the Arctic Ocean. In: P.A. Berkman and A.N. Vylegzhanin (eds.), Environmental security in the Arctic Ocean. Dordrecht: Springer (NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security): 371–404. (E-book)


    Roland Paris (2001). Human security: paradigm shift or hot air? International Security, 26 (2): 87–102. (E-journal)


    Rita Floyd (2007). Human security and the Copenhagen School’s securitization approach: conceptualizing human security as a securitization move. Human Security Journal, 5: 38-49. (E-journal)


    Shih-Ming Kao, Nathaniel S. Pearre and Jeremy Firestone (2012). Adoption of the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement: A Shift of the Arctic Regime toward a Hard Law Basis?, Marine Policy, 36, 832-838. (E-journal)


    Steinicke, S. and S. Albrecht. 2012. Search and rescue in the Arctic. Berlin: SWP (Working Paper SG 2). (Online.)


    Anton Vasiliev (2013). The Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic - A New Chapter in Polar Law. In: Nathalia Loukacheva (ed.), Polar Law Textbook II, 53-65. (Online)


    Alexei Bambulyak, Åre Kristoffer Sydnes and Maria Sydnes (2015). Oil-spill response in the Russian Arctic. In: Leif Christian Jensen and Heir Hønneland, Handbook of Politics of the Arctic, 66-86.


    Ensieh Kheiri Pileh Roud, Odd Jarl Borch, Uffe Jakobsen and Nataly Marchenko (2016). Maritime emergency management capabilities in the Arctic. International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference. Proceedings (ISOPE) 2016.


    Uffe Jakobsen (2015). Climate change and risk management challenges in the Arctic. Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen. (Paper for the ECPR General Conference, Université de Montréal, 26-29 August 2015). (Available online at http:/​/​​Events/​PaperDetails.aspx?PaperID=25484&EventID=94)


  5. Geopolitics:Conflict or cooperation


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


    Charles K. Ebinger and Evie Zambetakis (2009), The Geopolitics of Arctic Melt, International Affairs, 85(6), 1215-1232. (E-journal)


    Adriana Craciun (2009). The Scramble for the Arctic, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 11(1), 103-114. (E-journal)


    Ian G. Brosnan, Thomas M. Leschine and Edward L. Miles (2011). Cooperation and Conflict in a Changing Arctic?, Ocean Development and International Law, 42(1-2), 173-210. (E-journal)


    Torbjørn Pedersen (2006), The Svalbard Continental Shelf Controversy: Legal Disputes and Political Rivalries, Ocean Development and International Law, 37(3-4), 339-58. (E-journal)


    Klaus Dodds (2010). Flag Planting and Finger Pointing: The Law of the Sea, the Arctic and the Political Geographies of the Outer Continental Shelf, Political Geography, 29, 63-73. (E-journal)


    Timo Koivurova (2011). The Actions of the Arctic States Respecting the Continental Shelf: A Reflective Essay, Ocean Development and International Law, 42(3), 211-26. (E-journal)


  6. Governance: The Arctic between local and global concerns


    David Scrivener (1999). Arctic Environmental Cooperation in Transition, Polar Record, 35(192), 51-58. (E-journal.)


    Oran R. Young (2002). Can the Arctic Council and the Northern Forum Find Common Ground?, Polar Record, 38(207), 289-296. (E-journal)


    Oran R, Young (2005). Governing the Arctic: From Cold War Theater to Mosaic of Cooperation, Global Governance, 11(1), 9-15. (E-journal)


    Olav Schram Stokke (2006). A Legal Regime for the Arctic? Interplay with the Law of the Sea Convention, Marine Policy, 31, 402-408. (E-journal)


    Donald Rothwell (2008). The Arctic in International Affairs: Time for a New Regime?, Brown Journal of World Affairs, XV(I), 241-53. (E-journal)


    Timo Koivurova (2010). Limits and Possibilities of the Arctic Council in a Rapidly Changing Scene of Arctic Governance, Polar Record, 46(2), 146-56. (E-journal)


    Oran R. Young (2010). Arctic Governance - Pathways to the Future, Arctic Review on Law and Politics, 1(2), 164-185. (E-journal)


    Oran R. Young (2011). If an Arctic Ocean Treaty is not the Solution, What is the alternative?, Polar Record, 47(243), 327-334. (E-journal)


    Jian Yang (2015). The Arctic Governance and the Interactions between Arctic and Non-Arctic Countries. In: Asian countries and the Arctic future, New Jersey: World Scientific, 35-49. (E-book)


    Olav Schram Stokke (2015). Can Asian Involvement Strengthen Arctic Governance? In: Asian countries and the Arctic future, New Jersey: World Scientific, 51-60. (E-book)


  7. Summing upand feedback


    Christian Le Mière and Jeffrey Mazo (2013). Arctic opening: Insecurity and opportunity. Oxford: Routledge  (The International Institute for Strategic Studies). Also printed as a special issue of Adelphi Series, 53(440), 9-179. (E-journal)

Following the course on ‘Greenland at the Crossroads’ in the first half of the semester would be an advantage but not a prerequisite.
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 will be provided in continuation of student presentations and on in relation to synopsis writing during the course
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination
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