Aurora Borealis at Sandnes, Lofoten Islands, Norway

About the Certificate in Arctic Studies

The International Affairs Program (IAFS) offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate in Arctic Studies, in collaboration with the Program in Nordic Studies (SCAN), the Program in Russian Studies (RUSS), the Department of Geography (GEOG), the Department of Environmental Studies (ENVS), the Department of Anthropology (ANTH), the Department of Ethnic Studies (ETHN), and the research entities the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR).

Why do the Certificate in Arctic Studies?

This certificate prepares students to address pressing environmental, political, and cultural issues in the far north. A laboratory for studying the effects of global climate change, the arctic region spans three continents, with territories in Canada, Greenland (Denmark), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and the United States. Its population exhibits considerable ethnic, linguistic, and sociopolitical diversity, and contains numerous indigenous peoples. Issues as critical as nationalism, territorial rights and law, security, economic development, and resource technology place the Arctic at the center of global, regional, and national interests. Further, the region’s natural and social characteristics have inspired influential and enduring expressive culture—produced by locals and outsiders—from antiquity to the present.

These features make study of the arctic ideal for students pursuing careers in international politics and diplomacy, indigenous rights, environmental science and climate change, humanistic scholarship, or creative work.


The certificate is open to all CU undergraduates and requires the completion of six courses for a total of 18 credit hours. Credit hours are distributed in three categories: (1) Certificate Core Courses, (2) Environment and Policy, and (3) Culture and Society. Students must complete all three courses in the Core category and one course in each of the other two categories. They will then take one elective course, and only one 1000-level course is allowed. 9 of the 18 credits must be upper division. Up to three credits of approved study abroad experience may be applied to either the Environment and Policy or Culture and Society categories.

  • GEOG 2271 - Introduction to Arctic Climate and Environment
  • PSCI 3206 - The Environment and Public Policy
  • IAFS/SCAN 3631 - Arctic Society and Culture

  • ETHN 2013 - Critical Issues in Native North America
  • RUSS 2501 - Russia Today
  • SCAN 2201 - Introduction to Modern Nordic Culture and Society
  • SCAN 2202 - Vikings
  • SCAN 3204 - Medieval Icelandic Sagas
  • SCAN 3206 - Nordic Colonialisms
  • SCAN 3301 - Radical Nationalism in Northern Europe

  • EBIO 3170 - Mountain Ecology and Conservation      
  • ENVS 1000 - Introduction to Environmental Studies
  • ENVS 3521 - Climate Politics and Policy
  • GEOG 4261 - Glaciers and Permafrost
  • GEOG 4271 - The Arctic Climate System
  • GEOG 3682 - Geography of International Development
  • IAFS 1000 - Global Issues and International Affairs
  • PSCI 2116 - Introduction to Environmental Policy and Policy Analysis

  • Additional possible courses:

  • GEOG 3882 - Geography of the Former Soviet Union
  • RUSS 4120 - Russia after Communism: Post-Soviet Politics and Culture
  • ENVS/GEOG 3022- Climate Politics and Policy
  • CVEN 4718/5718 – Mechanics and Dynamics of Glaciers
  • GEOG 4261 - Glaciers and Permafrost
  • GEOL 1060 - Global Change: An Earth Science Perspective
  • GEOL 3040 – Global Change: The Recent Geological Record

For more information, and to apply to the Certificate in Arctic Studies, please contact Prof. Ben Teitelbaum at

For further information on this certificate, click here.