What to take

Some core Northern Studies courses are offered in the evenings so that students can complete this program and still maintain employment and family responsibilities. Elective courses can be taken in the evenings, during the academic day, or through summer programs. Some courses are presented both on campus and by distance delivery. Check with Dr. Ehrlander at mfehrlander@alaska.edu to find out which these courses are.

Courses are scheduled so that students can complete their Master's degree programs in two years. Students may wish to distribute their study over a shorter or longer period. All of the following courses count for 3 academic credits, except where otherwise indicated.

Please be aware that this is a sample course list; the Northern Studies curriculum is constantly changing. This course list is accurate as of March 2004, but please be aware that course offerings do change, depending on availability of instructors."

Because Northern Studies is, by definition, an interdisciplinary field, we've organized the courses by field, rather than by course number. Also, where possible, we have tried to add links with information about specific professors.

Courses related to:

Introductory requirements
Art and Literature
Political Science

*Please note: Instructors may occasionally change. This list is most recent as of October 2012.

Online Admission Application

Introductory Requirements

Perspectives on the North

Northern Studies 600

Basic knowledge of the circumpolar north -- the social, economic, political, and scientific facets of northern life. Consideration of major cultural groups of the north and their histories, the environmental settings and patterns of settlement and development in northern regions and systems of governance in different northern countries. Broad overview of the major policy issues of the north in education, justice, health care, and environmental and wildlife protection.

Research Methods and Sources in the North

Northern Studies 601

Development of students' research skills so they can engage in their own research on northern issues. Includes techniques of interviewing, conducting surveys, and sampling; qualitative and quantitative methods of research design; and familiarity with library sources and archival records. Each student will develop a research project.

Arts and Literature

Images of the North

Northern Studies 620
As assigned 

Emphasis on the variety of images created about the people and environment of the circumpolar north. Examination and interpretation of conceptualizations of the north as expressed in such different media as film, art, literature, travel journals, and oral traditions.

Visual Images of the North

Northern Studies 625

Examination of the two-dimensional imagery of the people and landscapes of the polar regions, centering on such issues as depiction of arctic peoples and customs by Europeans, documentary vs. artistic goals, translations from original sketches to published images, relationship of polar imagery to prevailing historical styles, and the influence of changing world views on modes of polar representation between the 16th and 20th centuries.

Polar Exploration and Its Literature

Northern Studies 681

A survey of polar exploration efforts of all Western nations from A.D. 870 to the present and a consideration of the historical sources of this effort. Also available via Independent Learning.

Political Science

U.S. Environmental Politics

Northern Studies 647

U.S. political institutions as they relate to making policies for protecting
the quality of the natural environment. The politics of nuclear waste,
endangered species, air and water pollution, and wilderness preservation.
Analysis of the National Environmental Policy Act, sustainable development,
limits to growth and other topics.

Environmental Politics of the Circumpolar North

Northern Studies 648
As Assigned 

Overview of how environmental politics and policy as a field of study relates to the Arctic region. Analysis of various threats to the northern environment, focusing on the policy making institutions at selected Arctic rim nations, as well as strategies to deal with environmental problems in an international context.

International Relations of the North

Northern Studies 652
As Assigned 

Examination of the international strategies of circumpolar states. Consideration of theoretical and practical elements of strategy formation in major issue areas such as national security, the political economy, human rights, and scientific exchange.

International Law and the Environment

Northern Studies 654
As Assigned 

International environmental law. International case law regulating the sea, airspace, outer space, and the polar regions. Includes comprehensive international regulatory legal instruments to protect the environment (e.g. the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), and the doctrines, principles, and rules of international law that are basic to an understanding of international legal regimes and the environment.

Political Economy of the Global Environment

Northern Studies 655

Exploration of the interactions between basic aspects of the global economy (international trade, investment and development) and the natural environment. Topics include the economic impact of global environmental agreements and the environmental impact of global markets, transnational corporations, and development assistance by organizations such as the World Bank.

Science, Technology, and Politics

Northern Studies 656

Relationship of science, technology and politics: connections among scientific knowledge, technology, technological innovations, politics and power. Includes historical and comparative aspects.

Comparative Environmental Politics

Northern Studies 658

Seminar with emphasis on enduring issues of the field of comparative politics and their relation to global environmental problems such as biodiversity, transboundary pollution, and climate warming. Explores how state-society relations, political institutions, national political capacity, political processes and organizations, and international commitments potentially shape the nature and dynamics of global environmental politics and vise versa.

Government and Politics of Canada

Northern Studies 660

A detailed examination of the Canadian political system, covering the Canadian constitution, the federal structure, parliamentary government and public policy, as well as contemporary issues concerning Native rights and the Canadian North. Students will complete a major research paper on specific policy areas (language, education, health care, environment, natural resources, foreign relations).

Alaska Government and Politics

Northern Studies 662

A comprehensive introduction to Alaska's government and politics, in the context of American state and local government and politics and governments of circumpolar northern nations. Topics include political history, constitution, political parties, interest groups, elections, public opinion, governor, legislature, judiciary, administration and local governments. Compares Alaska to the contiguous 48 states and subnational governments of the circumpolar North; examines how government institutions and processes respond to social, environmental, and political changes of Northern communities.

Government and Politics of Russia

Northern Studies 668

An examination of current developments in Russia from a number of perspectives: the effect of history and geography on political change; the nature of Russian government and society; the legacies of Lenin, Stalin, Gorbachev, and the ideological nature of regimes and leadership; economic forces and the political struggle in governance; revolution, democracy and reform; and the international role of Russia, particularly in relation to the former Soviet republics, Eastern Europe and other border areas.


Environmental History

Northern Studies 611
Di Stefano 

Discussion of significant works of environmental history. Cultural history
of the landscape in world civilization with emphasis on Western
Europe and North America. Discussion of interdisciplinary approaches
to the history of environment and cooperative work across disciplines.

History of Alaska

Northern Studies 661

Alaska from prehistoric times to the present, including major themes such as Native Alaska, colonial Alaska, military Alaska, statehood, Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, and the Alaska National Interest Lands Act of 1980. Also available via Independent Learning.

Imperial Russia, 1700-1917

Northern Studies 663

This course covers Russian history from the reign of Peter the Great (1682
– 1725) until the collapse of the Tsarist regime in February 1917. Topics
will include Russia’s complex relationship with Western Europe, the challenges
posed by modernization, the Russian Empire as a multi-national
state, and the emergence of the revolutionary movement.

Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia

Northern Studies 664

Russia from the 1917 Revolution to the present. This course examines
the attempts to build a socialist utopia in the former Russian empire and
its impact on the peoples of that region and the modern world. We will
consider the political, economic, social and cultural nature of the Soviet
state. Major themes include cultural transformation, industrialization,
Stalinism, the Soviet Union as a multi-national empire, the Cold War,
the collapse of the Soviet state, and the new Russia of Yeltsin and Putin.

20th Century Circumpolar History

Northern Studies 683

A comparative history of the circumpolar north, including Alaska, Siberia, Scandinavia, Greenland and Canada. Focus on social, economic, political and environmental issues of the 20th century, such as exploration, aboriginal land claims, subsistence, military strategy, transportation, oil development, Arctic haze, and scientific research in the Arctic.

Researching and Writing Public Northern History

Northern Studies 690

This course enables students to work with public agencies, under the direction of the instructor, in researching and writing background papers needed by public officials in formulating public policies dealing with a wide range of topics, including, for example, resource utilization and land management. Students acquire and demonstrate research, writing, and problem solving skills.


Northern Indigenous People and Contemporary Issues

Northern Studies 610
As assigned 

Comparative examination of issues affecting northern indigenous people from Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Russia. Issues include the impact of the alienation of land on which these people depend; the relationships between their small, rural microeconomies and the larger agroindustrial market economies of which they are a part; education, language loss, and cultural transmission; alternative governmental policies toward indigenous peoples and contrasting world views.

Oral Sources: Issues in Documentation

Northern Studies 670

Preparation for recording and use of oral resources. Examines how meaning is conveyed through oral traditions and personal narratives and the issues involved with recording and reproducing narratives. Includes management of oral recordings, ethical and legal considerations, issues of interpretation and censorship, and the use of new technologies to access and deliver recordings.


Geography of Cold Lands

Northern Studies 627
As assigned  

Comparative physical, human, and economic geography of cold regions in the north, especially Canada, Siberia, Greenland and Scandinavia. Special attention given to spatial patterns of settlement and natural resource development.

Ethics and Reporting in the Far North

Northern Studies 640

Historical overview of media coverage of the northern frontier with focus on journalistic ethics. A comparison is made to the media climate in third world countries.

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