Northern Studies

The group is multidisciplinary in its research as well as in terms of the competencies of its members. It aims to produce new insights on the societal, economic and environmental challenges in northern Scandinavia seen in a circumpolar and global geo-economic and cultural context.

Group coordinator
Urban Wråkberg, Dep. of Tourism and Northern Studies, Faculty of Sports, Tourism, and Social work, UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Kirkenes

The borderlands and cross-roads of northern Europe including Northwest Russia are central interest areas of the Northern Studies group. We contextualize this research with regards to the County of Finnmark along a central European axis by comparative study in the Eastern Baltic Sea Region, Slovakia and Transcarpatia.

Mulitdisciplinary course programme: the Bachelor of Northern Study
By the group’s residence in Kirkenes and at Campus Alta we are assuming a regional responsibility also through public outreach and by internationally open teaching in the on-line program Bachelor of Northern Studies (BNS). The scope of knowledge conveyed in the BNS is northern studies with its full complexity of geopolitical, economic, indigenous, environmental and cultural issues of the circumpolar north.

The research group in northern studies

  • The members of the group hold research competence in social sciences, technology, statistics, indigenous study and social anthropology. Our focus areas are the European north, Scandinavia and northern Russia
  • The members are the core of the teaching staff of the IRNS Bachelor of Northern Studies program (BNS)
  • The research group aims to create new knowledge on the County of Finnmark, in its global context, of relevance for local societal sustainability, environmental security, indigenous issues, northern tourism and industry
  • We specialize in cross-border issues, entrepreneurship and Russian studies

Research methods
Comparative perspectives are crucial for realizing differences and similarities between geographical areas. We follow and contribute to the development of research methodologies internationally and esp. within the Central European academic community. The northern researcher’s proficiency in languages is important but so is the ability to analyze subject matters of widely different academic fields. For example, multifactorial synthesis is the only way to be successful in business forecasting.

We use some special sources for the study of tourism (esp. on trip-styles and choice-of-location triggers); inspired by D. Silverman’s suggestion that: “we are living in the ‘interview society’ – a society occupied by social scientists, media presenters and journalists who are convinced that the only path to individual ‘authenticity’ is through the face-to-face interview”.

So-called unprovoked sources are central in some of our tourism analyzing projects dealing with social media. We do discourse analysis, detect path-dependencies, do site visits, and use photography and participant observation as research methods. Our sources include the cyber sphere, public documents and interviews.


  • NSRG members have proposed individual papers recently for joining a session (14.1) which the NSRG leader and Prof. Pete Capelotti of Penn State University Abington College have got accepted at the Ninth International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS IX) to be held at Umeå University in Sweden on June 8-12, 2017. The title of session 14.1 is “The Formation of Northern Spaces: Field-sciences, Place-names, Heritage and Tourism” 
  • Conference participation and consultation on  “Sharing European integration know-how and CBC experience between Norway and Russia with Ukraine”, in partnership with Presov University, Slovak Republic, 2016-2017
  • Consultation on “Innovative Approaches to Tourism Services Provision” EEA Norway Grant based development project at Michalovce, Slovak Republic and Uzhorod University, Ukraine, 2016-2017
  • A workshop on Euroarctic Cross-border tourism was organised by the Northern Studies research-group in Tromsø on March 17-18, 2016, in partnership with the UiT NAU research program “Neighbourly Asymmetry: Norway and Russia 1814-1914” and Vardøhus Museum Society
  • “Histories of Science and Tourism in the Arctic”, workshop held in Alta, November 11-12, 2015, organized jointly with the research group Narrating the Post-Colonial North
  • Mistra Arctic Sustainable Development, 3rd Colloquium, hosted at Campus Kirkenes, October 20-22, 2015
  • The place-names of Franz Josef Land – an international survey on toponomy, arctic tourism and the geographical heritage of FJL, Oslo, May 12-13, 2015. Proceedings published open-access jointly by the Arctic University of Norway and Pennsylvania State University
  • Open workshop “The Northern Lights in Scientific and Cultural-political Contexts”, Alta, April 27-28, 2015, organized jointly with the research group Making Sense of the Aurora


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