Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-cfpbc Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-16T21:35:22.173Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

A Norwegian pillar in Svalbard: the development of the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 March 2017

Ole A. Misund
Affiliation:
University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), PO Box 156, N-9171 Longyearbyen, Norway and National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES), PO Box 2029, Bergen, Norway and University of Bergen, Department of Biology, PO Box 7803, N-5020 Bergen, Norway (ole.arve.misund@unis.no)
Dag W. Aksnes
Affiliation:
Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Education and Research (NIFU), PO Box 2851 Tøyen, N-0608 Oslo, Norway
Hanne H. Christiansen
Affiliation:
University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), PO Box 156, N-9171 Longyearbyen, Norway
Thor B. Arlov
Affiliation:
University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), PO Box 156, N-9171 Longyearbyen, Norway and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway

Abstract

The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) is a unique institution with a history that is closely related to Norwegian policy regarding Svalbard, and to clever development of a highly specialised Arctic university institution by all the Norwegian universities. In practical terms, Norwegian sovereignty on the archipelago as confirmed by the Treaty of Svalbard of 1920 and regulated by the Svalbard Law of 1925, is maintained by the presence of Norwegian civil authorities and communities. Today, the “capital” Longyearbyen with its 2100 inhabitants is a modern hub for industry, education, research, logistics and tourism. Founded in 1993, UNIS has become a main contributor to this community, generating some 20% of the total economic activity. A prime motivation for establishing UNIS was to provide a supplement and alternative to the unprofitable, heavily subsidized coal mining industry, by using the location for research based education. In 2015, the mining company Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani (SNSK) met with deep crisis again and significantly downscaled its coal production and work force. Thus, UNIS may play an even more important role as a cornerstone of the local community in the future. This paper discusses the establishment and development of UNIS, its organisation, capacity, and academic production in terms of student graduation and its scientific output, just as its future potential for growth is evaluated. Finally, we discuss the increasingly important role of science and education in Norwegian Svalbard policy.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Aksnes, D.W. (editor). 2013. The University Centre in Svalbard. Publications, staff & students. NIFU report 34/2013. Oslo: NIFU.Google Scholar
Aksnes, D.W. and Rørstad, K.. 2015. Norsk polarforskning – forskning på Svalbard. Ressursinnsats og vitenskapelig publisering – indikatorer 2014 [Norwegian Polar Science – Science at Svalbard]. NIFU report 37/2016. Oslo: NIFU.Google Scholar
Aksnes, D.W., Osipov, I., Moskaleva, O. and Kullerud, L.. 2016. Arctic research publication trends: a pilot study. Rovaniemi: UArctic International Secretariat. URL: https://www.elsevier.com/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/204353/Arctic-Research-Publication-Trends-August-2016.pdf.Google Scholar
Arlov, T.B. and Holm, A.O. (editors). 2001. Fra Company Town til folkestyre. Samfunnsbygging i Longyearbyen på 78 nord [From Company Town to democracy. Building society in Longyearbyen at 78 North]. Longyearbyen: Svalbard Samfunnsdrift.Google Scholar
Arlov, T.B. 2003. Svalbards historie [The history of Svalbard]. Trondheim: Tapir Akademisk.Google Scholar
Arlov, T.B. 2004. UNIS – Universitetspolitikk eller suverenitetspolitikk? [UNIS – University or sovereignty policy?]. In: Tjelmeland, H. and Zachariassen, K. (editors). 2004. Inn i riket. Svalbard, Nord-Norge og Norge [Into the kingdom. Svalbard, northern Norway and Norway]. Speculum Boreale no. 5. Tromsø: University of Tromsø: 129138.Google Scholar
Arlov, T.B. 2008. Samfunn på randen. Det moderne gjennombruddet i Longyearbyen [Community on the edge. The modern breakthrough in Longyearbyen]. In: Jensen, A.-M. and Moxnes, K. (editors). 2008. Livet i Longyear byen. Åpne landskap – lukkede rom [Life in Longyearbyen. Open landscapes – closed rooms]. Trondheim: Tapir Akademisk: 1325.Google Scholar
Billick, I., Babb, I., Kloeppel, B., Leong, J.C., Hodder, J., Sanders, J. and Swain, H.. 2013. Field stations and marine laboratories of the future: a strategic vision. Stanford, CA: National Association of Marine Laboratories and Organization of Biological Field Stations. URL: http://www.obfs.org/assets/docs/fsml_final_report.pdf, (accessed 10 April 2014).Google Scholar
Bjørnsen, H. and Johansen, S.. 2014. Samfunns-og næringsanalyse for Svalbard 2014 [Society and business analysis for Svalbard 2014]. NIBR-report 2014:26. Oslo: NIBR.Google Scholar
Grydehøj, A., Grydehøj, A. and Ackrén, M.. 2012. The globalization of the Arctic: negotiating sovereignty and building communities in Svalbard, Norway. Island Studies Journal 7: 99118.Google Scholar
Helgesen, L.M., Holmén, K. and Misund, O.A. (editors). 2015. The ice is melting. Ethics in the Arctic. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget.Google Scholar
Kvello, J.K. 2006. Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani Aktieselskap. Fra privat til statlig eierskap 1945–1975 [Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani Aktieselskap. From private to state ownership 1945–1975]. Longyearbyen–Svea: Store Norske.Google Scholar
Lindner, E. and Jakobsen, B.. 2003. UNIS 1993–2003: an anniversary bibliography. Longyearbyen: UNIS.Google Scholar
Longyearbyen Town Council and Svalbard Business Association. 2014. Strategisk næringsplan for Svalbard [Strategic business plan for Svalbard]. Longyearbyen: Longyearbyen Town Council and Svalbard Business Association. URL: http://www.lokalstyre.no/strategisk-naeringsplan.331278.no.html.Google Scholar
MacKeith, P. 2006. Svalbard research centre (Jarmund/Vigsnæs Architects). Architectural Record 194: 112119.Google Scholar
Michener, W.K., Bildstein, K.L., McKee, A. and others. 2009. Biological field stations: research legacies and sites for serendipity. BioScience 59: 300310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mikalsen, K.H. and Solberg, M. (editors). 2009. Det store Kullrushet – industriell omstilling i Arktis [The Great Coal Rush – industrial change in the Arctic]. Oslo: Gyldendal.Google Scholar
Ministry of Justice and Public Security. 2016. Meld. St. 32 (2015–2016) [Government White Paper (2015–2016]. Svalbard: Ministry of Justice and Public Security.Google Scholar
National Research Council. 2014. Enhancing the value and sustainability of field stations and marine laboratories in the 21st century. Committee on Value and Sustainability of Biological Field Stations, Marine Laboratories and Nature Reserves in the 21st Century Science, Education, and Public Outreach: Board of Life Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. URL: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18806, (accessed 18 October 2016).Google Scholar
Osipov, I.A., Radford, G., Aksnes, D.W., Kullerud, L., Hirshberg, D., Skold, P., Latola, K., Moskaleva, O.V. and Sorensen, A.. 2016. International Arctic research. Analyzing global funding trends: a pilot report. Digital Science Reports. London: Digital Science. URL: https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3811224.Google Scholar
Statistics Norway. 2016a. Dette er Svalbard. Hva tallene forteller [This is Svalbard. What the numbers tell]. Oslo: Statistisk sentralbyrå.Google Scholar
Statistics Norway. 2016b. Befolkningen på Svabard, 1 Juli 2016 [Population at Svalbard, 1 July 2016]. Oslo: Statistisk sentralbyrå. URL: https://www.ssb.no/befolkning/statistikker/befsvalbard, (accessed 6 January 2017).Google Scholar
Summerhayes, C.P. 2015. Polar science strategies for institute managers. Polar Record 52: 239248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Viken, A. 2011. Tourism, research and governance on Svalbard: a symbiotic relationship. Polar Record 47: 335347.Google Scholar
Westby, S. 2003. Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkomani 1916–1945. Longyearbyen: Store Norske.Google Scholar