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


The course will consider what Greenlandic actors can do with their overall ambitions of economic development and, eventually, statehood facing several challenges that originate in both 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?

Course structure:

  1. Delimitations and characteristics of the Arctic and Greenland
  2. Climate change and impact on societies in the Arctic
  3. Geopolitics:  Security implications of Arctic developments
  4. Potentials for extractive industries in Greenland
  5. New shipping routes  and maritime security in Greenland
  6. Asia and implication of Asian interests in the Arctic
  7. Arctic governance and Greenland-Denmark relations 
Course start date
Course end date
Registration deadline
University of Copenhagen
Field of study
Social science
Course Level
Course topic
Governance & political science
Teaching language
Teaching place
Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen
Teaching country