Building sustainability and hospitality in Greenland

December 02, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has joined a new education partnership between organizations and universities in Greenland and the U.S. will work to build vocational education programs that support sustainable tourism, hospitality, and land and fisheries management in the Arctic nation.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Greenland Climate Research Centre at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (Pinngortitaleriffik) will lead the effort, called the Arctic Education Alliance. Other partners include Penn State, the University of Greenland (Ilisimatusarfik), the University of Southern Maine, and Victoria Qutuuq Buschman, the partnership’s Indigenous knowledge and conservation adviser. The U.S. Department of State will provide nearly $1.8 million in support of the two-year cooperative agreement.

The Arctic Education Alliance builds upon the cooperation detailed in the Common Plan for U.S. Greenland Cooperation to expand the U.S. partnership with Greenland in trade, investment and education.  It aims to foster collaboration between education communities in the U.S. and Greenland and expand educational and economic opportunities for both countries.

The first step in that process will be to identify additional partner organizations in the Greenlandic and circumarctic tourism, natural resource management, and education sectors. After that, the partners will work together to assess industry and vocational education needs within Greenland, develop a plan to build educational capacity to meet those needs, and create curriculum to support those efforts. The project will also feature an exchange program that will bring Greenlandic students and higher education faculty members to Alaska to participate in workshops with experts from partner organizations.

Nathan Reigner, research assistant professor of recreation, park and tourism management at Penn State, will serve as project manager. Throughout his career, Reigner has been active in North Atlantic tourism and nature protection. As project manager, he will provide strategic direction and operational leadership on the project.

“We have a large and diverse team of experts and community members in the United States and Greenland,” said Reigner. “My job is to empower them to contribute their knowledge and coordinate their energy, as well as keeping the proverbial trains running on time.

“The Arctic Education Alliance will be a truly collaborative endeavor,” Reigner continued. “In addition to Greenlandic and American co-leadership, the project will strengthen existing ties between American and Greenlandic universities and expand our collective participation in the circumarctic education community.”

The two-year project includes a sustainability plan to maintain collaboration after the initial program is complete and help to ensure that Greenland realizes lasting benefits from the project.

“Climate change and the melting Arctic are focusing new and powerful global pressures on Greenland,” Reigner explained. “The Arctic Education Alliance will help prepare Greenlandic students to address these pressures and lead their nation to a sustainable and prosperous future.”

Peter Newman, professor of recreation, park, and tourism management, and Derrick Taff, assistant professor of recreation, park, and tourism management, will both contribute their expertise to the project as well.

The Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and University of Alaska Fairbanks are both well-established institutions in Arctic science and education. The institute studies Arctic ecosystems, advising the government of Greenland and other authorities on sustainable use of living resources while safeguarding the environment. Along with a strong commitment to Arctic science, University of Alaska Fairbanks adds its experience in tribal management, fisheries research, and Indigenous cultural programs.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 02, 2020