As the lone engineer on this field seminar, there has been so much to gain from the unique perspectives of both my fellow students and everyone that we have been fortunate to meet in Greenland. After over a week of seeing the tundra through the eyes of ecologists and earth scientists, I was excited to travel to Nuuk, Greenland’s capital city, and see this beautiful country through the eyes of the people who live and work here.
With many changes happening in Greenland due to exploration for natural resources, a recent election, and a rapidly changing climate, there is so much for us to learn. We were able to meet with representatives from the Department of Permitting for Minerals and Natural Resources, the Greenlandic hunters and fishers association (KNAPK), the Inuit Circumpolar Council, and physicians from Nuuk’s center for family medicine.
Of course, the engineer in me sees all of these different perspectives as part of a larger system. Each person that we met with had a particular expertise within the system but it was the links between these entities which were the most interesting. For example, figuring out how natural resource exploration and extraction might affect hunters and fishers in Greenland, or how a changing climate and globalization might affect the culture or mental health in Greenland.
These types of cross-linking effects are already visible. Some examples of these changes include shifting aquatic species found in Greenland’s waters due to warming temperatures and the emergence of more chronic illness in Greenland caused by changing diets and lifestyles. It is of course a complex and extremely dynamic system, as vibrant as the colors of the homes in Nuuk and as alive as the culture and city at all hours of the day. We were given a unique chance to delve into some of its pieces this system with the help of all the generous people we met.
We would like to extend many thanks to all of the people who took time to meet with our IGERT cohort while we were in Nuuk! We appreciate that you shared your ideas and time with us.