autumn 2017
STV-3040 Northern Governance - 10 ECTS

Type of course

Northern Governance is required in the Joint Master's Program in Governance and Entrepreneurship in Northern and Indigenous Areas (GENI).

Course content

Course Description

This course will introduce students to theories of governance so they can apply them in the northern context, as well as give them knowledge about different historical experiences of colonization and state integration, and contemporary policies and management of selected circumpolar countries. It is a venue for students interested in comparing governance challenges in a circumpolar North context.


Course Content

The course consist of two main parts. The aim of the first, the theoretical and conceptual framework, is to give students necessary tools to analyze different aspects of governance in northern areas. In the second part, the goal is to introduce students to different cases of governance, both to illustrate different aspects of governance and to understand the variety of challenges in Northern areas.  


Theoretical and conceptual framework

  • Governing the Arctic

The development in the North, and not least the possibilities for a rapid and radical new development resulting from climate change, has renewed and reframed the interest for the Arctic. As part of the change, Arctic states are developing new policies and their cooperation, and actors outside the region want to be involved in decision-making processes. The aim of this part is to present the architecture of politics and government in the Arctic; the main characteristics, how it has developed, and how it possibly might affect the development in the region. The presentation will have a focus on the Arctic in general, but with a particular emphasis on Canada and Norway. 


  • An age of governance?

The ¿governance turn¿ originates from an observation that hierarchies, with states at the top as dominant actor, is not a sufficient description of current decision-making. Borders are much more porous, whether it between actors in government, market or civil society, or between different levels of government. Governance structures is not least important when new structures and processes develops.  Multi-level governance has gained momentum from EU-studies, and studies of Arctic development has stimulated debates over regime theory and transnational governance. In this part, analytical dimensions of governance theories is critically discussed related to issues like resource management, regimes, and multi-level challenges.


  • Methodological challenges

Students of northern governance should be able to collect material according to scientific standards, and develop their abilities to evaluate research processes and collected material. In the course, two methodological approaches are of particular relevance. First, students should develop their ability to use comparative method, as examples will be taken from different environments and students should be trained in making comparison. Second, student should also train their ability to carry out critical evaluation of material from different types of cases.





Large variation and uneven processes characterize arctic development. The governmental framework is quite different from state to state, and prospects and resources vary among local communities and regions. In the course, students will get an introduction to Arctic governance by a limited number of cases. By using cases and not an approach aiming for a comprehensive picture, the goal is to learn from details and specific challenges of governance and next to discuss how to use the experience in new settings. There will a selection of cases by the teachers from main themes like:

  • Management of renewable resources
  • The challenges of extractive industries
  • Arenas and institutions for Arctic governance at national and international level
  • Processes for local development and innovation
  • Indigenous peoples, rights and culture 

Objectives of the course

Student acquired knowledge

By the end of the course, students will have acquired advanced knowledge within the fields of different approaches to governance as well as knowledge of the theories of governance and the fundamental operating principles of governance in northern areas.

Student acquired skills

By the end of the course, students have acquired skills making them able to

  • Define the fundamental principles of governance in Northern areas at different levels of government
  • Conduct comparative analysis of Northern governance systems and how different institutional arrangements enable and constrain local and regional options for innovation, economic, and social development
  • Analyse and comment on policy documents of importance for different actors in Northern areas


Student acquired competence

By the end of the course, students will have acquired the competencies making them competent to

  • Understand local and regional level drivers shaping emerging governance structures in the North¿ e.g. evolving indigenous rights, local civil society, economic and demographic changes
  • Explain implications of federal and unitary frameworks, including processes of devolution and delegated authority for local and regional governance processes.

Language of instruction and examination

The teaching and examination language is English.

Teaching methods

The teaching consists of a combination of lectures and seminars, including interactive teaching, comprising a total of 20 hours. Video conferencing will be applied during the whole course. The students are expected to be prepared and active during the seminars in discussing legal approaches to the issues at hand. Students are expected to study independently in periods of no seminars or lectures.

Quality assurance

The course will follow the procedures for quality assurance and program evaluation at both Universities. At the University of Tromsø the course follows the Quality Assurance System for the Educational Activities guidelines, as outlined in the GENI program description. Evaluation by partner communities and institutions will be of special relevance for this course. The course will be reviewed at least once during a program period (i.e. six semesters).


Assessment and grading

The course is assessed through a written home exam (two weeks). The exam may include theoretical and/or scenario questions. The paper should be approximately 4000 words.

During the semester each student will do an oral presentation in class on selected readings (via video-conferencing).

Participation in the field school is mandatory. A report from the field school must be submitted.

The grading scale of A to F is applied, where F constitutes fail. Students who fail their examination are entitled to re-sit the examination.

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: STV-3040
  • Tidligere år og semester for dette emnet