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Doctoral projects at the Arctic Graduate School

The first group of doctoral students at the Arctic Graduate School started their doctoral education in the fall of 2022. Here are project descriptions for all the doctoral projects.

Doctoral projects with start 2022

The Sámi Education Centre: Sámi Identity in the 21st century

The mission of Samernas utbildningscentrum (Sámi Education Centre) in Jokkmokk is to maintain, develop, and pass down Sámi traditions, culture, and industries. In addition, the school has an ambition to serve as a cultural meeting place where Sami identity and cohesion are strengthened. The project will study how various actors (board members, principals, teachers, students) view the school’s mission and activities. What notions emerge on Sámi identity in relation to traditional Sámi culture, course offerings, and sustainable development?

The study will mainly be based upon interviews with a sample of school actors from the last two decades. Through an analysis of written documents, the project will also investigate the formation of the official school policy in the same period.

Department: Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious studies
Contact: Daniel Lindmark

Linguistic Sustainability in a Changing North-Language Policy and Planning with Regards to Sami and Meänkieli (Tornedalian Finnish)

For the national minority languages Sami and Meänkieli, Umeå University has a national mission to conduct education and development work and to contribute to language revitalization. These activities are situated at the Department of Language Studies, a broad language department with extensive educational and research activities.

We are now looking for two doctoral students to further strengthen education and research in Sami and Meänkieli. Both doctoral positions are focused on the research field Language Policy and Planning and one of them is concentrated on Sami and one on Meänkieli.

Department: Department of Language Studies
Contact: Daniel Andersson

Media Discourses of a Sustainable North: journalism, places and practices in transition

The aim with this project is to empirically study media discourses of Norrland and representations of the places, primarily cities but also rural areas, that are central in the re-industrialisation of the North of Sweden or Sápmi.

The overall goal is to provide knowledge about the media industry’s possibilities to be a transformative power in the transition towards more sustainable societies in the North. The traditional, homogenous concept of Norrland is problematized, at the same time as the diversity of places and their varied conditions are acknowledged in the analysis.

The parallel transformation of the media landscape and journalism’s (re)newed interest in Norrland, e.g. through extended representation of national media, are important study objects. The democratic role of local journalism will also be examined.

Department: The Department of Culture and Media Studies
Contact: Annika Egan Sjölander

Arctic pathogens in a changing world of reservoirs and vectors

We live in a changing world in which a warmer climate, land use change, and increasing trans-boundary movements have major effects on sustainable development, disease emergence and ecosystem health. Arctic ecosystems are relatively species-poor, and considered particularly vulnerable to environmental changes that are occurring at unprecedented rates in the North.

The overall purpose of the project is to acquire new knowledge that will enable detection, prediction and control of zoonotic infectious diseases affecting the Arctic ecosystems and human societies. The project will produce high-quality, multidisciplinary knowledge on Arctic ecosystems and pathogens in the Arctic.

Department: Department of Clinical Microbiology
Contact: Magnus Evander

Health effects of cold exposure in the Arctic climate with a focus on a sustainable working life

Common characteristics of industrial environments in the Arctic includes exposure to various physical, chemical, and biological factors. Especially outdoor conditions with large temperature differences, slipperiness, wet and poor lighting conditions pose risks for both accidents and work-related diseases.

In addition to affecting health, we know that poor work environments lead to both reduced productivity and decreased quality. Ambient cold exposure has negative effects on vascular and nerve function in the hands, the musculoskeletal system and increases the risk of local frostbite, which can have long-term consequences. However, it is unclear in which way and to what extent employers systematically work to prevent these risks. 

The overall purpose of the project is to increase knowledge about how to prevent ill health due to exposure to cold at work. 

Department: Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine
Contact: Jens Wahlström

Transformation, Riskification and Geopolitics in the Arctic

The aim of this doctoral project is to contribute with new empirical insights into political drivers in the development of the Arctic and to increase our contextual understanding by way of international concepts facilitating cross-disciplinary dialogue.

The climate crisis and increasing competition over natural resources and security solutions challenge established forms of cooperation in the region and by extension the global goals of sustainability, for example as these are expressed in Agenda 2030.

The Arctic lacks an obvious center of gravity while the effects of transformation are unevenly distributed. Actors calculate risk under the influence of different geopolitical connotations. Who among the many actors involved have the power to influence Arctic transformation? Is it conceivable to arrive at a sustainable agenda, not broken by what Ulrich Beck (1992) once referred to as groups of optimists, skeptics, and deniers?

Department: Department of Political Science
Contact: Niklas Eklund

Tasting tomorrow

One of the key things we can do to reduce our environmental footprint is to eat food from sustainable sources, which include vegetarian and locally produced food.

In the counties of Västerbotten and Norrbotten we are enriched with a flora offering fresh, wild, and sweet flavours. Birch sap, crowberries, cloudberries, and Arctic brambles are a few examples, not to mention the vitamin C rich fir and pine needles. These ingredients together with grains suitable to grow in the Arctic climate are examples of what locally produced food products can contain. One prerequisite for sustainable eating is that inhabitants in Swedish Arctic learn to prefer Arctic flavours and locally produced products.

The aim of this doctoral project is to create a sensory game for children and adolescents (6-18 years of age) and through a gamified sensory training intervention study whether food preference and sensory curiosity can be steered toward sustainable food choices.

Department: Department of Food, Nutrition and Culinary Science
Contact: Eva Palmquist

An Arctic labour market in transformation- The establishment of 'green industies' in Arctic Sweden and its impacts on sustainable regional development

The capability of workers to transition from declining to expanding jobs is essential for a successful structural change in regions. Yet how individuals enter new, emerging jobs and what their conditions of work are once having entered, remains largely unclear.

In the light of this research gap and the recent “green” re-industrialisation of Arctic Sweden, there is an urgent need for a systematic analysis. Hence this PhD-project will aim to understand how the cognitive and spatial relationship between emerging and declining jobs create opportunities and constraints for workers and firms in general, and in the context of the Arctic in particular. This is done by combining large datasets, covering Swedish job ads on the one hand, and Statistics Sweden’s longitudinal register data on individuals and firms on the other. 

Department: Department of Geography
Contact: Rikard Eriksson

Sustainable mining in the Arctic

The mining industry plays an important role for the supply of essential metals, but mining is also associated with harmful effects on the environment. A large number of the abandoned, current and potential future mines are located in arctic environments in northern Sweden, affecting arctic ecosystems that are vulnerable and recover more slowly from disturbances.

In addition, mining in arctic environments is often controversial from a societal perspective, interfering with other activities such as reindeer husbandry, tourism and human recreation. As consequence, all activities related to mining need to become more sustainable, no matter whether they concern past, present or potential future mines. In this context, there is an urgent need for reliable tools to evaluate the environmental impact of mining activities.

This PhD project aims at developing frameworks and guidelines for sustainable mining that can be applied on a larger spatial scale.

Department: Department of Ecology and Environmental Science (EMG)
Contact: Åsa Berglund

What’s the color of Arctic change?

Arctic ecosystems are currently changing by a combination of climate change and human land use and understanding the causes and consequences of these changes is essential for guiding a sustainable management of these areas in the future. Hyperspectral sensors may identify archeological remains, contemporary human impact and vegetation change due to a warming climate.

We will in this project develop better methods for identifying these factors using hyperspectral data from handheld sensors, UAVs and satellites. These methods will be applicable for a wide interdisciplinary group of scientists including archeologists and ecologists.

Department: Department of Ecology and Environmental Science (EMG)
Contact: Johan Olofsson

Latest update: 2023-02-15