Preparation: Expedition 2 Northern Norway


Location: Learning Technologies Media Lab, St. Paul, MN, USA
Lat/Long: 44° 56′ 39″ N 93° 5′ 35″ W
Weather Conditions: 79F (26C) Partly Cloudy
Looking over the route for expedition 2.


Overview of the route for expedition 2.

It seems like just yesterday we were in Burkina Faso, Africa, for Expedition 1, and in a few days we are departing Expedition 2! After months of research on climate hotspots in Europe, we selected the Lofoten islands and nearby mainland regions of Arctic Norway as our next destination. The primary goal of the Earthducation project is to create a global narrative of the intersections between education and sustainability, and northern Norway provides a rich and unique context to explore this topic within Europe.

The name, Lofoten, comes from Lofuohta in the Northern Sami Language, the most widely spoken language of the Sámi. The Sámi are the Arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost and the Nordic countries’ only official indigenous people. Read more about the Sámi on this site’s “Sámi Culture” page.

Norway has one of the longest and most rugged coastlines in the world, along with 50,000+ islands. Here, the team talks route and logistics.

Northern Norway is a sparsely populated, mountainous region that comprises three counties (Nordland, Troms, and Finnmark) and sits almost entirely north of the Arctic Circle, with the exception of the southern tip of Nordland. Northern Norway embodies a rugged, water-saturated landscape; a mix of remote villages and small cities; several distinct cultures and languages; and a number of diverse ecosystems. These factors have led to unique educational and environmental challenges along with some creative commitments to sustainability, which are key reasons why Earthducation chose to visit this region.

On the small island of Røst in the Lofotens, the team will explore sustainable fishing, along with schooling challenges in remote communities.

A number of pressing sustainability issues will be investigated by the Earthducation team while they are in the field and throughout Expedition 2 including oil exploration, alternative energy development (offshore wind farms, hydropower), toxic pollutants, sustainable fishing, schooling challenges in small remote communities, and the quest to sustain culture, language, and land and water rights in the indigenous Sami communities.


The city of Tromsø sits on a small island, connected by bridges to the mainland to the east, and to Kvaløya island to the west. Photo by Arnstein Rønning.

Expedition 2 will launch August 23, 2011, when the team leaves Minnesota for Tromsø, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle and a hub of Arctic climate and environmental research. From Tromsø, we will make trips north into the majestic Lyngen Alps, and then south across Senja Island to Gryllefjord. From Gryllefjord, we will board a ferry west across the Norwegian Sea to Andenes in the Vesterålen islands, a jumping off point for whale safaris, and then drive south into the Lofoten islands.

Along with awe-inspiring mountains of rock that rise straight up from the sea, the Lofoten islands are home to many small fishing and farming communities and to a cod fishing industry that has been in existence for more than 1,000 years. Our team will travel to the southernmost tip of the Lofotens to the tiny and isolated island of Røst, where cod fishing and stockfish production still provide a primary livelihood for residents today, and where some of the largest seabird colonies in Europe can be found, along with the deepest cold water coral reef in the world.

Árran is a Lule Sami cultural and education center located in Drag, in the Tysfjord district.

Our team will then board another ferry to head back to the mainland, where we will turn north again, to Drag in the Tysfjord district, to visit Árran, a Lule Sami cultural and education center. Árran houses a small museum, a Sami radio station, some members of the Sami Parliament, and a Sami kindergarten, along with videoconferencing facilities from which staff at the center provide Lule Sami language distance education programs to high school students. The team will also visit the school in Drag, which is unique in that it merges Sami and Norwegian language and culture. From Drag, the team will head back to Tromsø, passing by Stetind, the national mountain of Norway.


From the new Learning Technologies Media Lab at the University of Minnesota, the entire Earthducation team has been working around the clock for months to make sure everything is in order for the expedition team to visit Norway.

Jeni and her brother at Svartisen Glacier in Nordland.

This past June, Jeni, a rockstar PhD student in Learning Technologies who works tirelessly on Earthducation, grabbed her backpack and tent for a pre-expedition trip to Norway to help research current environmental and education issues, establish local contacts, and scout out route possibilities and other logistics for the team. Jeni had a family connection to this region and volunteered to go on this scouting mission. Her grandfather was born in Mo I Rana, a small city in Nordland county, and immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was a child. Jeni’s great grandfather was born in Nesna, then a small fishing village on the mainland in Nordland, and before that her family came from the Lofotens.

Brad and Charlie discussing website designs for the new landing site.

As part of the preparation for this expedition, we have made exciting changes to the Earthducation website. Due to the innovative genius of Charlie and Brad, the Earthducation website now contains a main page that showcases upcoming expeditions and links to past expeditions – Expedition 0 and Expedition 1. In addition, thanks to the talents of Justin, there are now formal interview videos posted on our website that were conducted in Burkina Faso during Expedition 1 as well as new expedition trailer videos. Enjoy these new additions – the interviews are at the core of Earthducation’s mission.

Aaron has relied on Hilleberg tents for all his Arctic travels. The team will be camping in some stunning locations during expedition 2.

As always, Earthducation provides educational activities and resources to complement each expedition. Cassie and Jeni have been working on collecting resources and designing activities in order to encourage teachers and learners to be get involved with the Earthducation project. Focused on sustainability, education, energy development, and the country of Norway, these resources can be used at any time during the expedition. The learning and experiences are NOT limited to when the team is out in the field gathering interviews. Instead, we encourage engagement with the activities, media, and Environetwork at any time.

Aaron, Justin, and Charlie, the three travelers, prep equipment for the upcoming expedition.

Everything is bustling at the lab as we organize and pack expedition clothing, tents, camera gear, and technology. Once the team is in Norway, the team at the Learning Technologies Media Lab receives all updates and media sent from the field to be posted on the Earthducation website for the world to enjoy. Cassie, Brad, Jeni, and Patrick work together while the team is “on location” doing whatever needs to be done – editing and posting field updates, talking to teachers, giving presentations, and speaking with the press.

Aaron, Charlie, and Justin are beyond excited to soon be landing in Norway. As they travel throughout this beautiful country, be sure to check back frequently for updates.


Become part of the Earthducation team on the EnviroNetwork!

Our mission is for people ALL AROUND THE WORLD to share ideas on how education and sustainability. intersect. It all starts with your voice. The only way we will be able to accomplish this mission is with your help. Browse through the EnviroNetwork to view current perspectives and stories, and then add your own. We are counting on you!

We also invite you to to view the full photo gallery that accompanies this post.

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