Arctic Economy

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About the Course

Arctic communities have diverse histories and play a role in local, regional and global economies. However, due to climate change and increasing populations, vulnerable Arctic communities are facing new kinds of challenges to their survival. In this three-week online course—a unique collaboration between the University of Alberta and UiT The Arctic University of Norway, you will investigate the challenges faced by Indigenous communities as well as, North American, Russian and Nordic Arctic communities in a modern world. Join us as we venture above the 60th parallel, and explore how these resilient and fascinating communities adjust to change while maintaining their ways of life, socio-economic histories, and cultural traditions.

Explore the arctic in this unique three-part MOOC series brought to you by the University of Alberta and UiT the Arctic University of Norway. Enroll in each course today, or take them separately and take them at your own pace to learn the climate, economy, and development of the Arctic regions.

Arctic Economy online course title card.
Arctic Economy presenter card

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the economic past, present and future of the circumpolar Arctic.
  • Recognize the opportunities and challenges of economic development in the Arctic including local and global drivers.
  • Understand the social, cultural, and political context of local, national, and circumpolar Arctic economies.

Course Format


There are no prerequisites for this course, though students are encouraged to also take Introduction to the Arctic: Climate and Arctic Development. This course is suitable for anyone who has an interest in the history of the Arctic, Northern economies, or Northern communities. The material is equivalent to a first-year university-level course.

All four modules of content and quizzes are available for free, and a paid completion certificate is also optionally available.

Time Commitment: The course can be completed at the learner’s own pace, at roughly three weeks with three to five hours per week of study.

Take the course for free or upgrade to get certified in Arctic Economy!

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Profile photo of Brenda Parlee.

Brenda Parlee
Professor and Canada Research Chair
Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences, University of Alberta

Brenda Parlee was born and grew up in northern Ontario. The landscape and political economy of this provincial-north significantly influenced her knowledge and interpretation of the social, economic and environmental issues of critical importance for research and teaching. She has a BA from the University of Guelph (1995), and an MES. in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo (1998). She went on to receive her PhD from the University of Manitoba in Natural Resources and Environmental Management (NREM) in 2005. She is currently Professor in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences. She has worked in northern Canada for over 20 years on a range of collaborative and community-based research projects on different aspects of social and ecological change in Canada and internationally.

Profile photo of Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen.

Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen
Professor and Barents Chair in Politics
UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen is professor of Northern Studies and Barents Chair in Politics at the Arctic University of Norway. Rasmus is a Danish political scientist, who grew up in Reykjavik, Iceland, and therefore has a deep personal and professional commitment to the North Atlantic and the Arctic. Rasmus’ areas of research and teaching are the Arctic’s historical, current, and possible future place in international political, economic, security and technological systems.

Module Overviews

Module 1: Globalization and Sustainable Arctic Economies

In this module, we will introduce you to a diverse array of Arctic communities across the circumpolar north. You'll gain a basic understanding of the geography, culture and history of the Indigenous, North American, Russian, and Nordic Arctic, along with a few concepts and theories along the way. This foundational module will help us understand the recent changes specific to and shared by each of these regions, which have caused so much disruption across the Arctic.

Module 2: Local and Regional Economies Connected with the Outside World

In this module we will do a deep dive into the historical and contemporary economies of each of the four Arctics. Throughout the module, you'll encounter some key concepts that will help you understand how northern communities have been engaged in the global economy and what the future might hold. 

Module 3: History of Globalization in the Arctic

Here, we will focus on the rise of globalization and the sweeping changes it has brought to Arctic communities. We’ll also look at the challenges of balancing the needs of local and global communities. Finally, we will examine the different modes of Arctic governance and examine some of the strategies and tools Northern communities are using to secure the sustainability of Arctic communities and ecosystems.

Module 4: Final Thoughts

In the final module, we will examine some of the questions that it has left us with, looking to the uncertain future facing Arctic communities, economies, and cultures. There is no single answer to solve every problem and challenge that we've encountered, but by taking this course—and informing yourself of these issues—you are already contributing to a better future for these areas of the world.

Start your Arctic journey for free or upgrade to get certified in Arctic Economy! 

Register now on Coursera