The Department of Geography (GEOG) offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate in Arctic Studies, in collaboration with the Program in Nordic Studies (SCAN), the International Affairs Program (IAFS), the Department of Environmental Studies (ENVS), the Department of Anthropology (ANTH), the Department of Ethnic Studies (ETHN) and the research entities of 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).

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.

For more information, and to apply to the certificate in arctic studies, please contact Professor Mark Serreze at


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 plus one elective course. Only one 1000-level course is allowed. Nine 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.

Required Courses and Credit Hours

Required Core Courses
GEOG 2271Introduction to the Arctic Environment3
IAFS/SCAN 3631Arctic Society and Culture3
PSCI 3206The Environment and Public Policy3
Society and Culture3-6
One course required, plus one elective in this category or in the Environment and Policy category
Critical Issues in Native North America
Geography of the Former Soviet Union
RUSS 3251
Introduction to Modern Nordic Culture and Society
The Viking Age
Old Norse Mythology
Medieval Icelandic Sagas
Arctic Thrillers: Environment, Landscape and Literature of the Far North
Radical Nationalism in Contemporary Northern Europe
Advanced Swedish 1-DILS
Advanced Swedish 2 - DILS
Study Abroad - Global Seminar: Identity, Arts & Ethics in Contemporary Norway (Oslo and Bergen)
Environment and Policy3-6
One course required, plus one elective in this category or in the Society and Culture category
Our Changing Environment: El Nino, Ozone, and Climate
Special Topics in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences - Upper Division (only if topic is Icesheets and Climate)
Ice Sheets and Climate
Mountain Ecology and Conservation
Introduction to Environmental Studies
Climate and Energy Justice
Climate and Energy Justice
International Development: Economics, Power, and Place
The Arctic Climate System
Forest Geography: Principles and Dynamics
Global Change: An Earth Science Perspective
Global Issues and International Affairs
Introduction to Environmental Policy and Policy Analysis
Total Credit Hours18

Plan(s) of Study

To complete the interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate in Arctic studies a student must complete 6 courses for a total of 18 credit hours.

Students must take all 3 core courses, one course from the environment and policy category, one course from the culture and society category and one additional elective course from either category.

Students may take the courses at any time during their undergraduate program, completing them by their last semester. Please contact Professor Mark Serreze prior to starting the certificate program. Students may also contact the Department with any questions.