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

Key Features

“I could see firsthand how the sustainable practices we learned about were being used in a real world setting, which made the goal of a sustainable society seem much more feasible rather than just some far-off vision.”

—Kenzie Brown, program alum

Study renewable energy design and implementation within larger sociocultural, economic, and environmental contexts.

Program base in the Westfjords
The program is based in the fishing town of Ísafjörður where students stay with Icelandic families and study at the University Centre of the Westfjords. During the time in the Westfjords, students are surrounded by Iceland's famous steep fjords and glacial valleys. Side excursions during this period may include visiting a local dairy farm that utilizes its own micro-hydropower, the small town of Thingeyri where the annual Viking festival is held, and a meeting with the local energy company. Students will also spend a few days at a retreat center located on a rare white sand beach in Önundarfjörður.

Thematic seminar on renewable energy, technology, and resource economics
Students gain comprehensive knowledge of alternative energy technologies; they then integrate that knowledge into systems analysis, addressing energy’s local, global, social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental impacts. Students are immersed in applied renewable energy technologies, visiting a wide variety of working examples and engaging in critical discussion with experts in the field.

The thematic seminar includes:

  • Firsthand exposure to renewable energy systems. Students gain insider access to the workings of renewable energy systems and to the individuals who design, maintain, and make decisions about them in the context of Iceland.
  • Discussions on a wide range of renewable energy types. From small to large scales, hydroelectric to geothermal power, and hydrogen fuel cells to methane, students gain thorough knowledge across the gamut of renewable energy possibilities.
  • Debate over the consequences of energy decisions. Students critique energy issues holistically and assess the impacts of energy projects from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Individual Study Project on a topic of choice
Students pursue their own interests within sustainable energy by conducting an original research project with support from program faculty and partners in Iceland. Particular emphasis is placed on real-world relevance and on connecting with current research in Iceland.

Past student projects include:

  • Stakeholder analysis of tidal power in the Westfjords
  • A feasibility analysis of rapeseed biodiesel for the fishing fleet
  • A proposal for alternative energy systems for the island of Grímsey
  • An analysis of the micro-hydropower potential on a local farm
  • Paradoxes in Icelandic ecological intelligence and environmental behavior

Introduction to Icelandic language and culture
Language study facilitates immersion into the local culture. The Introduction to Icelandic course invites students into Icelandic through a fun and active approach to this ancient language. Stories from Viking to modern history and literature put the Icelandic identity in context.

Students take field trips to experience Iceland’s proudest cultural and historical accomplishments including:

  • UNESCO World Heritage site at Thingvellir – a rift valley between tectonic plates and an ancient parliament site
  • Downtown Reykjavík – a modern cultural center
  • Geysir – the original geyser
  • Sólheimar eco-village
  • The deserted village Hesteyri in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
  • Haukadalur – the setting of Gísla saga Súrssonar, one of the famous Icelandic Sagas

Costs Dates

Credits: 9

Duration: 7 weeks

Program Base: Westfjords

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)

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