Grant Benefits Arctic Study

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) grant was awarded to the University of West Georgia and Dr. Hannes Gerhardt, assistant professor of geography, to conduct a collaborative research project with colleagues at Florida State University and Towson University with the aim of exploring the political consequences of the rapidly warming Arctic.   

Dr. Gerhardt’s role in this research will be to analyze the way the Arctic is perceived and presented by policymakers and the media in Norway and Denmark. To assist Dr. Gerhardt in this process the NSF grant will support two undergraduate assistants in the Geosciences Department, starting in Spring 2010.

Specifically, this Arctic discourse will be studied to understand how and to what extent these Nordic states are trying to incorporate unclaimed sea into their respective state territories. Collaborators Phil Steinberg from FSU and Jeremy Tasch from Towson will be engaged in similar analyses in the United States, Canada and Russia. The aim of the research is to uncover areas of contention and possible cooperation between the five major Arctic bordering nations.
In the next several months Professor Gerhardt will be collecting and coding data from various Danish and Norwegian news sites. In the summer of 2010 he will journey to Copenhagen, Oslo and Tromsø to conduct interviews with key Arctic policy makers.

This data will then be translated, processed and cross-referenced with similar data collected in the U.S., Canada and Russia. Academic articles, policy relevant reports and conference presentations in the U.S. and Europe are the expected results of this grant for faculty and students. For all three participating universities, the NSF grant is valued at more than $376,000.  

To learn more about the undergraduate research and intern programs at the Department of Geosciences, go to