Iceland’s location on an active plate boundary (the Mid-Atlantic Ridge) and its location near the Arctic Circle makes it a great destination for environmental field study of young lava flows and volcanoes; older, uplifted and more deeply eroded rocks to the east and west sides of the active rifts; and study of both modern and ancient glacial processes. This is a field-based experience, and most days involve some or much hiking to get to and from the study area for that day. Most nights are spent in tents in campgrounds, and Iceland is known for having occasionally windy and rainy weather.

Start and end in Reykjavik, in the active volcanic zone; drive into the interior highlands for three nights at the Kerlingarfjoll rhyolite locality; then drive north to stay for a few nights at Holar University College, studying glacier erosion effects on some of Iceland's oldest rocks. From Holar, move east to the Myvatn region, with volcanism as recent as the 1980s. Egilsstadir in East Iceland is a launch point for a day's study along the northeast coast (up-close encounter with puffins; great highland hiking in eroded rhyolite volcanics). Drive south to Hofn through the East Fjords, where the focus shifts primarily to glacier studies with some bedrock mapping. Get on the ice at Flaajokull, and again at one of the glaciers at our next stop, Skaftafell National Park. From Skaftafell move west to Skogar, which gives access via a long day's hike up to the site of the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull. From Skogar head back to Reykjavik. This Dialogue is always on the go, with occasional open days.

Each person needs to provide their own camping gear (tent, groundcloth, rainfly, sleeping bag + pad, hiking boots, rain gear, etc.) for the month. Some study areas are a few steps from the bus, others involve extended (hours-long) hikes through steep and sometimes muddy terrain. For safety in remote areas like the ones we visit, we use the buddy system where two or more people hike for the day as a unit. If one person decides they need to turn around and head back, their buddy needs to come down with them.

Application Procedure

  • Application Open: October 20, 2017
  • * Priority Deadline: December 3, 2017
  • Application Deadline: February 1, 2018
Submit to GEO
  • GEO Application: All applicants must complete the GEO application. This is the first step for applying to any program.
  • $500 non-refundable deposit: Deposits must be paid through NUPay. Be sure to select the appropriate summer term.
  • Photocopy of Passport: This is to be given to your faculty leader after acceptance.
  • Faculty Interview: Faculty will schedule interviews with applicants of interest to determine acceptance. The interviews can occur anytime between the priority and final deadline.
  • Essay Questions: Answer each question in 2-3 paragraphs (completed online via GEO application).
    • What are your personal and academic reasons for wishing to participate in this Dialogue of Civilizations program?
    • How will the program further your academic and career goals?
    • What is your previous travel and language experience, if any?
    • What courses have you taken which are directly relevant to the program?

Applications are not considered complete until deposit is received. This deposit will be applied to the full cost of the program.

* Priority Deadline: All students that apply by the priority deadline will be considered for admission, as all dialogues remain open until the priority deadline. After the priority deadline, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until the program fills. Programs are subject to close anytime between the priority deadline and the application deadline when a program receives the maximum number of students.

Update My Travel Plans on myNortheastern
Once you have been accepted into the program and your the flight and accommodation details have been shared with you, you are required to create an entry in My Travel Plans for the trip. Please be sure to enter the following pieces of information:
  • Personal and Emergency Contact Info
  • HealthTravel Info: Dates, flight and accommodation details, etc.
  • Passport Details: Passport number, Expiration date, Passport Country of issue, etc.

Please refer to this step-by-step user’s guide for directions on how to navigate the My Travel Plans system.

Should you fail to complete this step as directed, you may be prevented from traveling, may not receive credit for courses, and/or may be excluded from participating in other Northeastern global programs.

Eligibility Requirements

Studying abroad requires a valid passport. You may also need a visa and/or other travel documents. It is your responsibility to ensure that all your documents are valid and appropriate to the nature of your program.

Minimum Requirements
  • Minimum Cumulative GPA: 2.5
  • Minimum Semesters: Minimum of 2 completed Northeastern semesters at the time of program start date. NUin students are eligible to apply during their first semester on the Boston campus. Transfer and Global Pathways students contact GEO program coordinator for eligibility.
Other Requirements
  • ENVR Coursework: Some Environmental Science/geology coursework preferred, but students without prior course background in geology will be considered.

Courses

In addition to focusing separately on volcanic and glacial processes, we will consider the ways that magma and groundwater interact to create geothermal energy; how magma and glaciers interact; and how Icelandic society is influenced by these and other environmental factors. Sparse tree cover makes it easy to see and compare details of landscape features both nearby and tens of kilometers away. It is easier to develop the ability to interpret the sequence of past events in a region in Iceland than in most areas of the U.S. Standing next to a melting glacier, and walking on still-steaming eruption vents that fed a 1984 lava flow, provide a context for cause-and-effect landscape evolution in ways that are not as easy to convey in a classroom. This course may satisfy some major, or minor, elective coursework, and about half use the classes as open electives. While the focus is primarily on geologic processes, we do consider aspects of Iceland’s history and culture through required readings, museum visits, etc. Hands-on mapping exercises in teams show how geologists ask questions and reach conclusions about the earth. Study in 8 different areas around Iceland, moving from the campground to the day’s study areas, and making a series of stops to provide study experiences that build to a comprehensive understanding of the ways that volcanism and glacial advances and retreats modify the earth’s surface and influence how Icelandic people interact with their environment today.

  • ENVR 5201 - Geologic Field Seminar : This course focuses on plate boundary processes – volcanism, and faulting/earthquake activity. We study modern (<30 years old) and ancient (up to 10 million years old) examples of volcanic areas, and relate them to tectonic processes at work in Iceland today, and over the past 10 million years.
  • ENVR 5202 - Environmental Science Field Seminar Abroad : This course captures students’ understanding of glacial processes, and of the cultural and historical context of readings and museum visits.

Cost

Northeastern Tuition: $12,140
Dialogue of Civilizations Fee: $2,500
  • Northeastern Tuition and DOC Fee Includes: 8 Northeastern credits, international roundtrip airfare from Boston, accommodations for program duration, international security and emergency support, and program related expenses (local transportation, field trips, excursions and group meals)

Additional Estimated Expenses: $261
  • Students should anticipate spending the following out of pocket expenses during the program: $261 on incidentals.

GEO offers scholarships and grants for students studying abroad on Dialogue of Civilizations programs. Please visit our Scholarships page for more info!

Resources

Additional Resources

Destination

Iceland’s location on an active plate boundary (the Mid-Atlantic Ridge) and its location near the Arctic Circle makes it a great destination for environmental field study of young lava flows and volcanoes; older, uplifted and more deeply eroded rocks to the east and west sides of the active rifts; and study of both modern and ancient glacial processes. Volcanic landforms and eruption styles differ, depending on whether magma erupts on land, beneath the ice, or flows into water, and we study examples that formed in each environment. Glaciers erode the landscape, transport and deposit sediments, and melt gradually to form rivers (much of Iceland’s electricity derives from hydropower). This is a field-based experience, and most days involve some or much hiking to get to and from the study area for that day. We spend most nights in tents in campgrounds, and Iceland is known for having occasionally windy and rainy weather.

Accommodations

  • Campgrounds: Most of the nights are spent in organized campgrounds.
  • On-Campus: Depending on room availability, students usually stay 5 nights in either college dormitory rooms, or at a hostel.
  • Hostel: Depending on room availability, students usually stay 5 nights in either college dormitory rooms, or at a hostel.

Host University or Organization

We mostly do not use a host institution, except for a 5-night stay (most years) at Holar University College. That college offers three degree programs, in aquatic biology, rural tourism, and horse husbandry. The English version of the college’s web address is: http://www.holar.is/en/english

Faculty Advisor
Coordinators