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International Relations 422: Ecological Security and Global Politics

Summer 2015 in Sweden, Norway, and Finland
Professor:  Steven Lamy
Dates: May - June, 2015

The 4-unit PWP course explores the complex issues surrounding the Arctic through one week of class study and three weeks of field work in Stockholm (Sweden), Norway, and Helsinki-Rovaniemi (Finland).

The popular view of the Arctic as a region of frozen solitude and remote beauty is now quickly yielding to a more complex series of images: a bellwether of climate change, as the polar ice caps shrink; an energy bonanza, as exploration for oil and gas riches long imagined now become accessible; the venue for a new tourist industry alongside expanded commercial shipping, as the dream of a Northwest (and Northeast) passage becomes a reality; and a zone of interstate  confrontation, as all the preceding push the Arctic powers to expanded territorial claims.

These developments raise multiple policy issues. How can conflicting national interests be reconciled? Are current treaties sufficient to protect the fragile Arctic ecosystem from the degradation of petroleum prospecting and commercial shipping? How will the infrastructure to deal with oil spills or maritime incidents be built? Who will defend the interests of the traditional peoples of the Arctic regions? A rudimentary international legal framework exists, from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to the committees of the ad hoc Arctic Council. But it is just that—promising, yet rudimentary—and only beginning to negotiate the many conflicting positions of the main Arctic powers: the U.S., Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark. Will these positions on territorial, economic and environmental issues harden into confrontation, or can the Arctic become the locus of a successful new regime of “global governance”?

The task for students—after an intense week of preparation at USC—will be to explore these issues with diplomatic, energy, environmental and other experts in three settings (Stockholm, Sweden; Oslo, Norway; and Lapland, Finland) as prelude to drafting a coherent set of policy recommendations.


Program Costs:

Tuition: $6408 [4-units]

Travel: $2,100 [LAX-Stockholm departure; travel to Oslo, Helsinki and Rovaniemi; return Helsinki-LAX]

Note: Students should wait to purchase airline tickets until instructed to do so, as courses may be canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Additional expenses: $2,400*

*Additional expenses include estimated costs for hotels/dorms in Stockholm, Oslo, Rovaniemi; meals; visas and other fees; and personal expenses (which vary considerably from student to student).

To view the 2013 reference application, click here.  Application for 2015 submission forthcoming.

Students participating in this program may apply for a research stipend of up to $3.000 through SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fund). Please see the SURF website for details on eligibility at:

Graduating seniors are not eligible for SURF.

For further information on this course, contact Danika Newlee at