What is Arctic and Northern Studies?

Arctic and Northern Studies (ACNS) is an interdisciplinary program that offers a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Master of Arts (M.A.). Each degree educates students about the opportunities, challenges, and issues related to the Arctic and circumpolar north. Students examine the common and distinctive features of the countries and regions of the Arctic and Circumpolar North, focusing on the human perspective. The program offers students broad flexibility so they can choose a course of study that corresponds to their needs and interests. Common academic interests of students include northern histories; political challenges in the North; international relations; environmental concerns; natural resource management; Indigenous cultures and Indigenous peoples’ concerns; and northern literature, arts, and humanities. The program draws from a number of fields, including anthropology, art, biology, geography, history, literature, political science, and more.

The geographic location of UAF allows students to immerse themselves in a sub-Arctic environment while studying Northern issues. ACNS students benefit from the expertise and research experience of the faculty and from the comprehensive holdings of the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives at the Rasmuson Library.

Terrence Cole

Remembering Terrence Cole

Photo by Artem Zhdanov

UAF students photograph the aurora during a workshop held by UAF Outdoor Adventures at Murphy Dome.

The Arctic and Northern Studies program provides students the opportunity to study some of the world’s most pressing problems in one of the world’s most beautiful settings.

In recent years, as climate change has threatened the global environment, the world’s eyes have turned to the Arctic, where the pace of warming is more than double that elsewhere in the world. Residents of the circumpolar north don’t have to imagine how climate change might affect them in a decade or two. Communities are already experiencing the devastating effects of coastal erosion, sea ice melt, crumbling infrastructure resulting from melting permafrost, and the most destructive wildfires on record. Our program educates the next generation of students and supports their research on these and other pressing issues.