Embla Eir Oddsdóttir, Director of the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network (IACN), will be visiting WKU the week of Feb. 15 and engaging in a variety of activities to further strengthen collaborations between WKU and the IACN.
In March 2015, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed to promote collaborative research, joint classes, student exchanges and faculty development with the IACN and University of Akureyri in Iceland. The partnership between WKU, the IACN and the University of Akureyri has evolved into a major collaboration with multiple Icelandic institutions to study economic development, health and well-being, ecotourism, environmental sustainability, the global effects of climate change, and other related issues faced by the Arctic region and the world as a whole.
“This is a long-term partnership that further extends WKU’s international reach, while strengthening our teaching and research in highly relevant ways for both today’s students and global citizens,” said Dr. Leslie North, assistant professor in WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology. “Interdisciplinary, interregional and intercultural collaboration is necessary for the development of research and education pursuits that address the mounting challenges communities in all regions of the world face due to changing environmental and economic conditions, including those related to the complex dynamics of climate change and its inherent uncertainties. Through exchange programs and having outstanding international scholars, such as Director Oddsdóttir, visit WKU and participate in our campus events, we are better able to bring to light these issues and engage our students in ways in which we can work together to find solutions.”
The impacts of climate change are felt at both local and global levels and will require robust cooperation between various stakeholders involved, as well as reconciliation and negotiation of multiple perspectives, be they economic, social, cultural, or environmental, Dr. North said.
The purpose of next week’s visit is to assist in the development and execution of the agreement by participating in different academic activities, such as classroom lectures within WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology, in which Oddsdóttir is an adjunct faculty, meetings with program directors across campus and within the community, and a collaborative research workshop. Oddsdóttir also will speak on the “Wicked Arctic” at the Geography and Geology seminar at 3 p.m. Feb. 19 in Environmental Sciences and Technology Building, room 260; all are welcome to attend, though seating is limited to 100.
Additionally, two representatives from Memorial University in St. John, Newfoundland, Canada, will be joining the group during part of next week’s visit. The goal of this endeavor is to explore the possibility of forming a relationship between Icelandic and Canadian institutions and WKU with the purpose of working collaboratively on research, teaching and student/faculty exchange programs focused on common goals. Participants will include Orn Gudmundsson, Honorary Consul from Iceland to the Central United States, and several members of the Kentucky economic development sector. WKU faculty members Dr. Bernard Strenecky, Dr. North and Dr. Jason Polk will be hosting the visitors.
Dr. Polk and Dr. North also will be discussing the Iceland research collaboration Feb. 18 as part of WKU Libraries’ “Far Away Places” lecture series. Their presentation, Iceland: Extreme Learning in the Land of Fire and Ice, will begin at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 1680 Campbell Lane.