Undergraduate Programs

Arctic Studies – Minor

Arctic & International Relations is a Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies (JSIS)-wide initiative, led by the Canadian Studies Center since 2008, to address the Arctic as an emerging global region and actor on the world stage. JSIS and the Center are working in partnership with a parallel initiative, Future of Ice (http://ice.washington.edu/) – a College of the Environment, College of Arts and Sciences, and Applied Physics Laboratory initiative – to enhance the University of Washington’s (UW) profile in research, education and public engagement about the polar regions. JSIS and School of Oceanography proposed a minor in Arctic Studies that has been signed; the Office of Global Affairs, and the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of the Environment have sponsored a Canada Fulbright Visiting Chair in Arctic Studies; and, the Center, JSIS and a number of units in both colleges are collaborating on several projects.

The Arctic Studies Minor is offered jointly with the School of Oceanography in collaboration with University of the Arctic. This interdisciplinary academic program will link the natural, social sciences and humanities in an integrated program of study.

The multidisciplinary project, Re-Imagining Area Studies in the 21st Century: The Arctic as an Emerging Global Region, is in collaboration with the Center for Global Studies, Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, Center for West European Studies, East Asia Center, Jackson School of International Studies, Department of Anthropology, Department of Scandinavian Studies, School of Oceanography, Program on Climate Change, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, the Quaternary Research Center, and the Northern Nunavik Laboratory, Government of Québec.

The Fulbright Visiting Chair in Arctic Studies (2013-2017), in partnership with the Foundation for Educational Exchange Between Canada and the United States, Ottawa, is funded by the Office of Global Affairs, JSIS, Division of Social Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, and College of the Environment.

Requirements for the Arctic Studies Minor

The minor requires a minimum of 28 credits with a minimum of 15 credits from areas outside the student’s major. A minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA, and a minimum of 15 credits must be completed at the UW.

Students are required to complete four core courses (12 credits) made up of:

  1. Three foundation courses (9 credits) designed to provide an orientation to:
    • indigenous and nation-state geopolitics in the Arctic and policy writing (ARCTIC 200)
    • changes to the Arctic Ocean from a scientific perspective (OCEAN 235)
    • current issues in the Arctic (ARCTIC 401) taught by the incoming Chair in Arctic Studies.
  2. One integrative experience course (3 credits) that will combine the natural and social sciences and will require students work in interdisciplinary teams on their research projects.

In addition to the core, students are required to take an additional 16 credits of electives, i.e., at least four courses of which two are in the social sciences and two are in the natural sciences. Of the elective credits, at least one course must be ranked with a North Star* indicating more than 33% Arctic content. The remaining electives are designed to provide a balance between the natural and social sciences and to build knowledge in key Arctic-relevant areas (further explanation below).

Introductory Courses (9 credits, minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0)

  • ARCTIC 200 Introduction to Arctic Studies: Indigenous Diplomacies & International Relations (3 credits, Fall)
  • OCEAN 235 Arctic Change (3 credits, Spring)
  • ARCTIC 401 Current Issues in the Arctic Region (3 credits, Spring)

Integrative Experience (3 credits)

ARCTIC 400 Integrating Policy and Science in Arctic Studies (3 credits)

This integrative experience course is designed to integrate the core scientific and policy courses from the disciplines that constitute the Arctic minor. Students in the Arctic minor capstone course will:

  • read, evaluate, and synthesize information from primary literature in Arctic development, with a focus on climate change literature;
  • integrate information from the physical/biological sciences into the policy contexts;
  • present/argue/defend positions based on the physical and biological evidence that support a policy position;
  • speculate based on evidence the direction in which policy decisions will go;
  • communicate ideas in both written and oral context.

This course will focus on important background knowledge in both policy and scientific knowledge that will determine the state of the Arctic environment in the near and distant futures. UW climate change scientists and policy experts will be invited to speak in the class.

Elective Coursework – Designed for a Tailored Program

Electives (to total 16 credits) will be selected from a list of approved courses below. A minimum of two courses must be taken from each of the two content areas: A: Natural Sciences; and, B: Social Sciences. At least one of the electives must have a North Star classes* designation indicating significant (33%) Arctic course content.

This broad but relevant range of electives enables each minor to develop expertise on an Arctic issue from the framework and theoretical foundation of a particular discipline. As such, the Arctic minor is designed to offer the most complete range of topics necessary to enable the students and advisors to tailor the program to each individual student’s interest. It is the vision of the Minor Committee that the Arctic Minor students will graduate with advanced expertise in a selected area of Arctic studies.

Affiliate Arctic Studies faculty

Approved List of Elective Courses by Category & Department

North Star courses are designated with a *. Please see the UW course catalog for course descriptions and for pre-requisites: http://www.washington.edu/students/crscat/

A: Social Sciences Category (min. two courses)

Arctic Studies

*ARCTIC 498 Special Topics (social sciences content)

American Indian Studies

AIS 340 Indian Children & Families (5) I&S

AIS 360 American Indians in Cinema (5) VLPA/I&S

AIS 441 Gender in Native American Societies (5) I&S

AIS 443/COM 443 Indigenous Films, Sovereign Visions (5) VLPA/I&S

AIS 444 Criminality & “Deviance” in Native Communities (5) I&S

AIS 461/JSIS A 426 First Nations Government & Politics in Canada (5) I&S

AIS 465/JSIS A 422 First Nations Filmmaking in Canada (5) VLPA

Anthropology & Archaeology

ANTRO 211/AES 211/ENVIR 211 Environmental Justice (5) I&S

ANTH 310 Native North American Societies (5) I&S (pre-req)

ANTHRO 371/ENVIR 371 Anthropology of Development (5) I&S (pre-req)

*ARCHY 377 Archaeology of the Arctic (5) I&S (pre-req)

ANTHRO 459/ENVIR 459 Culture, Ecology, & Politics (5) I&S


ECON 435 Natural Resource Economics (5) I&S (pre-req)

ECON 436 Economics of the Environment (5) I&S (pre-req)

Environmental & Forest Sciences, Environmental Science & Resource Management

ESRM 371/SOC 379/ENVIR 379 Environmental Sociology (5) I&S/NW

ESRM 400 Natural Resource Conflict Management (3) I&S/NW


GEOG 270 Geographies of International Development & Environmental Change (5) I&S

GEOG 271 Geography of Food & Eating (5) I&S

GEOG 375/JSIS B 375 Geopolitics (5) I&S

GEOG 370 Problems in Resource Management (5) I&S

GEOG 433 Resource Use & Management in Russia & Former Soviet Republics (5) I&S

GEOG 480 Environmental Geography, Climate, & Health (5) I&S (pre-req)

Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

GWSS 341/AIS 341 Native Women in the Americas (5) I&S

GWSS 440/AIS 440 Reading Native American Women’s Lives (5, max. 10) I&S

GWSS 442/AIS 442 Images of Natives in the Cinema & Popular Cultures (5) I&S/VLPA

Jackson School of International Studies

JSIS 201 The Making of the 21st Century (5) I&S (pre-req)

JSIS A 301 Europe Today (5) I&S

JSIS A 348/POL S 348 European Union as Global Actor (5) I&S

JSIS A 420 Post-Soviet Security (5) I&S

JSIS A 427/ANTH 425 Anthropology of the Post-Soviet States (5) I&S

*JSIS B 350/ENVIR 360/SCAND 350 Environmental Norms in International Politics (5) I&S

JSIS B 441 Forced Migrations (5) I&S (pre-req)

JSIS 478 Geopolitics of Oil (5) I&S

Law, Society & Justice

LSJ 320/POL S 368 The Politics & Law of International Human Rights (5) I&S

Marine & Environmental Affairs

*SMEA 407 International Organizations & Ocean Management (3)

SMEA 476/ENVIR 476 Introduction to Environmental Law & Process (3) I&S

*SMEA 514 Marine Pollution Management Issues (3)


PHIL 207/POL S 207/VALUES 207 Issues of Global Justice (5) I&S

PHIL 243/ENVIR 243 Environmental Ethics (5) I&S

PHIL 416/ENVIR 416 Ethics & Climate Change (5) I&S

PHIL 417/ENVIR 417 Advanced Topics in Environmental Philosophy (5) I&S

Political Science

POL S 203 Introduction to International Relations (5) I&S

POL S 321 American Foreign Policy (5) I&S

POL S 328 International Organizations (5) I&S (pre-req)

POL S 384/ENVIR 384 Global Environmental Politics (5) I&S

POL S 385/ENVIR 385 Political Ecology of the World Food System (5) I&S

POL S 423 International Law (5) I&S

POL S 426/JSIS B 426 World Politics (5) I&S

POL S 427 International Political Economy (5) I&S

*POL S 437/SCAND 437 Politics in Scandinavia (5) I&S

POL S 442/JSIS A 408 Government & Politics of China (5) I&S

POL S 448 Politics of the European Union (5) I&S

Scandinavian Studies

*SCAND 326/POL S 326 Scandinavia in World Affairs (5) I&S

SCAN 351/JSIS A 351 Scandinavia, the European Union, & Global Climate Change (5) I&S

*SCAN 479/JSIS A 429 Eco-Capitalism (5) I&S


SOC 356/POL S 356 Society & Politics (5) I&S

Bothell Campus

*BIS 490 Economics of Ice: Globalization & the Polar Regions (5)

University of the Arctic (on-line courses)

*BCS 331 Contemporary Issues in the Circumpolar World (4)

*BCS 332 Contemporary Issues in the Circumpolar World (4)

B: Natural Sciences Category (min. two courses)

Arctic Studies

*ARCTIC 498 Special Topics (natural sciences content)

Aquatic & Fisheries Sciences

FISH 250/BIOL 250/OCEAN 250 Marine Biology (3/5) I&S

FISH 330/ENVIR 330 Climate Change Impacts on Marine Ecosystems (5) NW

FISH 437 Fisheries Oceanography (4) NW

*FISH 464 Arctic Marine Vertebrate Ecology (4) (pre-req)

Atmospheric Sciences

ATM S 211 Climate & Climate Change (5) I&S/NW

ATM S 321 The Science of Climate (3) NW (pre-req)

ATM S 475/ESS 475/OCEAN 475 Current Research in Climate Science Seminar (3, max. 6) (pre-req)

Environmental & Forest Sciences, Environmental Science & Resource Management

ESRM 210 Introductory Soils (5) NW

ESRM 350 Wildlife Biology & Conservation (5) NW (pre-req)

ESRM 450 Wildlife Ecology & Conservation (5) NW (pre-req)

Earth & Space Sciences

ESS 201 The Earth System & Climate (5) (pre-req)

ESS 203 Glaciers & Global Change (5) I&S/NW

ESS 302 Great Ice Age (5) NW (pre-req)

ESS 431 Principles of Glaciology (4) NW

ESS 433 Environmental Change in the Glacial Ages (5) NW

ESS 435 Glacial-Periglacial Geomorphology (3) NW (pre-req)


OCEAN 200 Introduction to Oceanography (3)

OCEAN 210 Ocean Circulation (3) NW 

OCEAN 355 From Big Bang to the Blue Planet (3) NW (pre-req)

OCEAN 423 Ocean Circulation & Climate (3) (pre-req)

OCEAN 430 Biological Oceanography (4) (pre-req)

OCEAN 431 Special Topics in Biological Oceanography (3) NW (pre-req)

OCEAN 450 Climatic Extremes (4) NW

*OCEAN 482 The Changing Arctic Ocean (3) NW

Quantitative Science

Q SCI 210/ENVIR 210 Introduction to Environmental Modeling (4) NW, QSR