Iceland: Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics (Summer)

Faculty and Staff

Caitlin Wilson, Academic Director

Caitlin Wilson, Academic Director
Caitlin is originally from Richmond, Virginia but has lived in Iceland since 2006. After graduating from the College of William and Mary in her home state of Virginia, she won a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship to the University of Iceland to pursue her interest in environmental studies. In 2010 she graduated with a master's degree in environmental science and natural resource management. Caitlin is currently a doctoral student at the University of Iceland, School of Education researching sustainability and education. She has been the academic director of the SIT Iceland program since 2010. She has a son who was born in 2008. She lives with her family in Reykjavík.

In the words of the SIT Iceland academic director:
“In the minds of many, Iceland conjures up images of pristine nature, clean water and air, and progressive energy policy and practice. This reputation is built on a history of innovation, first sparked by the oil crisis of the 1970s, which inspired Iceland to transform its power from fossil fuels to renewables—notably geothermal and hydropower.

Over the next decades, Iceland successfully converted public heating and electricity to 85 percent renewable. The transportation sector still relies on fossil fuels, but Iceland is working rigorously to become completely energy independent by 2050, exploring alternative fuels including hydrogen, methane, and biofuel.

There is no other place on Earth with a comparable combination of renewable energy resources, history of sustainable development, and commitment to progress for the greater good. The economic crisis of 2008 has actually motivated Iceland to think even more carefully about its long-term future, by developing a national plan towards sustainability focused on energy independence and nature conservation.

The SIT Iceland program offers students the extraordinary opportunity of experiencing all of this firsthand, on site. Program lecturers are the top experts in their fields and are eager to guide students and share their special knowledge of this uniquely important topic and place. The program itself is crafted to take students on a journey of discovery, giving insight into the character of perhaps the most progressive nation in the world.”

Lecturers for this program include:

Dr. Brynhildur Davidsdottir, Lecturer on Resource Economics and Policy
Dr. Davidsdottir is an associate professor of environment and natural resources at the University of Iceland and director of the Graduate Program in Environment and Natural Resources. Additionally, Dr. Davidsdottir is an advisor to the Icelandic government on the issue of climate change mitigation and is the appointed chair of the government committee that oversees greenhouse gas mitigation in Iceland.  Before joining the University of Iceland in 2006, Dr. Davidsdottir was an associate at Abt Associates Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a lecturer at Boston University, and a senior research associate at University of Maryland, College Park.

Much of her research has focused on complex systems modeling of energy and environmental policy issues, such as regional responses within the United States to various climate change policy options and the impact of those responses on the natural environment; dynamic modeling of energy transitions; and development of indicators for Sustainable Energy Development.

Dr. S. David Dvorak, Lecturer on Hydrogen Fuels Cells and Alternative Energy
Dr. Dvorak is a professor of mechanical engineering technology at the University of Maine and also coordinator of the Fuel Cell Systems and Hydrogen Specialization at RES, the School for Renewable Energy Sciences in Akureyri, Iceland. A Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Dvorak has worked with fuel cell projects in Europe and the USA. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1981 and 1982 respectively, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Maine in 1998. From 2000 to 2007 he served as director of the UMaine School of Engineering Technology. Dr. Dvorak is also a licensed professional engineer and began working on alternative energy applications over 20 years ago, investigating the use biomass-derived fuels for industrial gas turbines at GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Dvorak’s current interests include fuel cell applications using liquid renewable fuels, control of fuel cell power systems, and innovative polymer electrolyte fuel cell membranes.

Dr. Jónas Eliasson, Lecturer on Hydropower
Dr. Elíasson has been a researcher and professor for over four decades. He is currently a professor of civil engineering at the University of Iceland and head of the hydrology concentration for The School for Renewable Energy Science in Akureyri. Dr. Elíasson also has taught at the Technical University of Denmark and has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University, University of Washington (Seattle), and the University of California (Santa Barbara). He received his M.S. and Ph.D. from the Technical University of Denmark. His areas of research include fluid mechanics, environmental engineering, hydrology, coastal engineering, and water power. Dr. Elíasson worked for twenty years as a hydropower consultant to the National Power Company of Iceland on optimization, flow resistance, groundwater problems, and ice problems.

Costs Dates

Credits: 9

Duration: 7 weeks

Program Base: Ísafjörður

Language Study: Icelandic

Prerequisites: Previous college-level coursework or other significant preparation in engineering, economics, environmental studies, or related fields, as assessed by SIT. Read more...


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Summer 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Summer 2012 Evaluations (PDF)
Summer 2011 Evaluations (PDF)

Connect With Us

Connect icons

888.272.7881 (toll-free in US)



Mailing Address:
PO Box 676, 1 Kipling Road
Brattleboro, VT 05302 USA

Contact us by email.