The aim of this summer school is to enable students to conscientiously and effectively contribute to an improved understanding of the problem of plastic pollution, while obtaining first-hand experience of methods for the study and assessment of sources to and the extent of plastic pollution in the environment. 

Course parameters:

Language: English

Level of course: PhD level, but promising master and undergraduate students as well as other participants from indigenous groups or local organizations working on the topic are welcome.

Time of year: 1-5 August 2022. Extra travelling days are required for overseas participants.

No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like: 40/75

Capacity limits: 18 participants

Objectives of the course:

Plastics continue to pollute the marine environment around the world, and the Arctic is no exception. In the Arctic, the plastic pollution may be a result of long-transported debris but there are also challenges with establishment of effective local waste handling systems, as well as raising public awareness.

The aim of this summer school is to enable students to conscientiously and effectively contribute to an improved understanding of the problem, while obtaining first-hand experience of methods for the study and assessment of sources to and the extent of plastic pollution in the environment. Students will also gain insights into relevant preventive and mitigation actions on marine litter in the North. It will include lectures, field trips, practical analyses and interactions with local stakeholders. Lectures will mix natural and social sciences and contain both an introduction to the global issues relating to plastic pollution and why and how this is especially relevant for the Arctic. The focus will be on both macro- and microplastics that can originate from both local land- and sea-based sources, as well as long-range oceanic and atmospheric transport. There will also be lectures on different levels of environmental management frameworks including internally relevant monitoring and assessment frameworks and the development of Arctic actions plans for combatting marine plastic pollution. Social and community engagement aspects of marine litter will be addressed at multiple stages of the course.

Lectures will be complemented with practical analysis on different methodologies for characterizing marine litter items, with a focus on plastics. The students will learn how to identify important sources of litter and how to develop relevant management actions and solutions in dialogue with managers and stakeholders. Boat-assisted field trips to relevant locations in the surroundings of Nuuk will give the students practical experience with different survey methods, sampling techniques and analysis. A visit to a local waste handling facility in Nuuk will be relevant for learning more about local strategies and challenges relevant for finding Arctic solutions.

At the end of the field school, the importance of good communication and awareness raising will be central, and a seminar will be held where students can present key findings from their project work, as well as meet, learn and discuss the problem of marine litter, waste management challenges and solutions specific for the litter found on Greenland beaches with invited environmental managers and other local stakeholders.

Learning outcomes and competences:

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

The students have a basic but sound knowledge about marine plastic pollution covering sources, occurrence, fate and impacts as well as insights in relevant management plans i.e.

  • The students have knowledge of methodologies applied in environmental sciences to characterize amounts and composition of plastic pollutions that are relevant for both research, and monitoring and management plans.
  • The students are able to look at plastic pollution from various perspectives and make connections between the environment and different human activities, also those activities or challenges that are particularly relevant for indigenous communities.
  • The students understand the importance of science in policy making.
  • The students can explain what measures can be taken to reduce the impacts of plastic pollution.
  • The students are able to repeat part of the fieldwork in other locations.
  • The students are able to identify and communicate with relevant stakeholders including local knowledge holders, learn from them and discuss solutions with the stakeholders on how to reduce the amount of waste ending up in nature

Compulsory programme:

Possible Saturday, 30 July or Sunday, 31 July.

Sunday: Welcome meeting for overseas participants

Monday: Lectures (introduction to marine plastic pollution, policies within the Arctic, monitoring measures, and introduction to field work)

Tuesday: Fieldwork on monitoring methodologies and excursion to a local waste treatment facility.

Wednesday: Group laboratory exercise on marine debris identification with ‘Deep-dive method’ and other analytical methods.

Thursday: Lectures on social science in relation to marine plastic pollution, and discussions on solutions to marine plastic pollution.

Friday: Group work and seminar with invited stakeholders including group presentations. Final remarks and end of course.

Saturday: Departure for overseas participants

Course contents:

The student is required do some readings for prior to the course – see literature below. A final list will be send out. Also, the student is requested to prepare a short – 5 min talk on a chosen subject related to plastics in the marine Arctic.

During the course, lectures will be given on sources, occurrence, fate and impacts of marine litter in the Arctic and relevant environmental management plans with mitigative actions including different types of monitoring frameworks and techniques. Lectures will be given by travelling lecturers, online by international lecturers and local community stakeholders.

An excursion to the waste facility in Nuuk will be included in the course.

The students will participate in one-day field work to get hands-on monitoring of marine plastics. The following day will the students conduct lab work on the collected plastic items in terms of physical/chemical analyses and applying the ‘Deep-dive’ methodology. The students will present their findings and facilitate a discussion at a seminar with invited stakeholders as community leaders and fishermen



Name of lecturers:

Jakob Strand, Department of Ecoscience Aarhus University

Lis Bach, Department of Ecoscience Aarhus University

Louise Feld, Department of Ecoscience Aarhus University

Thomas Juul-Pedersen, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources

Anna Sinisalo, GRID-Arendal, Norway

Catherine Chambers, University Centre of the Westfjords, Iceland

Jannike Falk-Andersson, SALT, Norway

Type of course/teaching methods:

Lectures, field work, lab work, excursion, student presentations and a stakeholder seminar


Aarhus University, Department of Ecoscience with support from Greenland Institute of Natural Resources; GRID-Arendal, Norway; Kola Science Centre, Russia and SALT, Norway.

Special comments on this course:

This course is financially supported by UArctic ( Accommodation and meals will be covered. Travel costs will be supported up to 4500 DKK, while the remaining travel costs are on the expense of the student. The student can apply the UArctic's mobility program north2north to cover these costs. See


1-5 August 2022. Extra travelling days are required for overseas participants.


Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Nuuk, Greenland.


Deadline for registration is 15 January 2022. Information regarding admission will be sent out no later than 25 January 2022.

For registration, please send an e-mail to Lis Bach at

If you have any questions, please contact Jakob Strand, e-mail: or Lis Bach, e-mail: