Earthducation: Expedition 2 is headed to northern Norway. This sparsely populated, mountainous region comprises three counties (Nordland, Troms, and Finnmark) and sits almost entirely north of the Arctic Circle. 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 some unique educational and environmental challenges, along with some creative commitments to sustainability.
Expedition 2 will begin in Tromsø, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle and a hub of Arctic climate and environmental research. From Tromsø, the team will make trips north into the majestic Lyngen Alps, and then south across Senja to Gryllefjord, where they’ll board a ferry west across the Norwegian Sea to the Vesterålen Islands. They’ll then drive south into the Lofoten Islands.
Along with awe-inspiring mountains of rock that rise straight up from the sea, the Lofotens 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. The team will travel all the way to the southernmost tip of the Lofotens, to the tiny and isolated island of Røst, where stockfish production still provides a primary livelihood for residents today. Røst also contains some of the largest seabird colonies in Europe along with the deepest cold water coral reef in the world.
The team then returns to the mainland, and heads north to Drag in the Tysfjord district, to visit Árran, a Lule Sámi cultural and education center. Árran houses a small museum, a Sámi radio station, some members of the Sámi Parliament, and a Sámi kindergarten, along with videoconferencing facilities to provide Lule Sámi distance education programs to high school students. The team will also visit the school in Drag, which has a unique curriculum merging Sámi and Norwegian language and culture. From Drag, the team heads back to Tromsø before returning home to the University of Minnesota.
Some of the pressing issues that will be investigated during Expedition 2 include oil exploration, alternative energy development, toxic pollutants, sustainable fishing, schooling challenges in small remote communities, and the quest to sustain land and water rights, culture, and language in the indigenous Sámi communities.