Participants discussed how to educate and train the next generation of Greenland and U.S. researchers. Greenland researchers indicated a need for students and interns with basic scientific training as well as with technical skills such as remote sensing and GIS (geographic information systems). U.S. and Greenland students can be prepared for collaborative work if it’s emphasized in their training.

Specific recommendations include:

Develop greater access to STEM resources and courses in Greenland-

  • Greenland schools want more science materials (education modules, lesson plans, textbooks etc.) in Kalaallisut (Greenlandic), especially inquiry-driven materials. Researchers and Embassy Science Fellows could work with the publishing house in Nuuk, with teachers, the teachers’ college, and the Ministry of Education to develop science materials in Kalaallisut.
  • Participants were excited about the idea of developing and leading research-based science courses and a possible science degree at Ilisimatusarfik. More visiting lecturers from the U.S. offering lectures or short courses at Ilisimatusarfik would be helpful in broadening the curriculum and adding English coursework.
  • Ph.D. courses combined with a workshop in Greenland is another way to train and engage the next generation in research and build networks. For example, from 2-9 October 2019, Ilisimatusarfik will host the Ph.D. course “Community based health research – methods and strategies.” As part of that course, students will develop presentations to give at NUNAMED 2019, a conference on Greenlandic health and medicine (5-7 October 2019,
  • Continue to implement summer school programs that include Greenland students. A successful model is the U.S. NSF- and Naalakkersuisut-funded Joint Science Education Project (see Insert below) but other courses should be developed (e.g., a course focused on holistic management of natural resources in rapidly changing environments) including for students of all age groups.
  • Online Courses and online certificate programs, such as those offered by the University of Alaska-Fairbanks might be another avenue for Greenland students to access coursework. While this would not lead to completed degrees, the students could transfer some of these credits into Ilisimatusarfik degree programs.

Develop and encourage student exchanges or mechanism for Greenland students to study in the United States and vice versa- The education of Greenland researchers in Denmark has built a strong base of collaboration. An equivalent pathway in the U.S. would facilitate U.S.-Greenland collaborations. There is also desire for greater access for Greenland students to study in the U.S., with U.S. government support in acknowledgement of Greenland’s engagement with the U.S. for research and security missions. U.S. hosts could have students participate in labs as visiting researchers without having to enroll and pay tuition. U.S. universities with a large funding effort in Greenland should pursue self-funding their student and faculty exchange programs. Even at very modest scale, these efforts will be impactful in building reciprocal relationship. For example, each year since 2009 the Institute of Arctic Studies has funded a student from Ilisimatusarfik to spend a term at Dartmouth and this relationship has grown where recently Dartmouth students can now spend a term at Ilisimatusarfik.

Connect Indigenous U.S. and Greenland undergraduates- This would aid Greenland students in identifying with science to a greater degree and introduce U.S. Indigenous students to the research collaborations operating in Greenland. This would produce greater interest and access to Arctic physical and social sciences among Indigenous students.

Provide training for teachers- The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, Naalakkersuisut, and Ilisimatusarfik are recruiting an Embassy Science Fellow to work with the teachers’ college in Greenland to identify their interests and needs, some of which include creating hands-on materials and inquiry-based field teaching, and how to teach science to different age groups. An example from the U.S. is the NSF-funded School of Ice Project that trains educators about teaching polar science. Other programs that focused on hydrology, geology, biology, etc. would also be appreciated. This would also provide more English instruction, which could help Greenland students connect with the broader scientific community.

The Joint Science Education Project (JSEP)

JSEP is a U.S.- Greenland collaboration funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and Naalakkersuisut. Each summer since 2009, high school students from Greenland, Denmark, and the U.S. travel to Greenland to study rapid environmental change. The program is based in tundra ecosystems around Kangerlussuaq and on the Greenland Ice Sheet at research sites such as the U.S. Summit Camp or the Danish East Greenland Ice Core Project (EGRIP). Throughout the program, students work in the field alongside scientists and graduate students to get hands-on experience in interdisciplinary field research and the process of science beyond what most classrooms can offer. Students complete inquiry-driven projects that they then present at an outreach event the airport in Kangerlussuaq where they reach hundreds of people traveling to, from, and around Greenland. Giving the students a voice to share their discoveries is an important step for preparing them as future leaders. Built in to the program is intentional cultural sharing- the educators & students host a U.S. night, Denmark night, & Greenland night. This fosters open and creative multicultural research teams that represent the future of U.S.-Greenland research. Importantly, JSEP also gets Greenland students engaged in research and onto the Greenland Ice Sheet, a massive part of the Greenland landscape that is largely inaccessible to Greenland students and the public. Photos: Lars Demant-Poort