Iceland: Landscapes, Natural Resources and Environmental Management

CFAN 3506Valley

May Term 2018

Application Deadline:
February 15, 2018

Discover the breathtaking beauty of Iceland, the least densely populated and arguably the most environmentally friendly country in Europe. You'll learn about boiling mud pools, waterfalls, geysers, and glaciers. This experience is designed specifically for sophomores and first year students. Prior to departure, you will develop questions and explore concepts, and develop your own social networks with Icelanders to better understand how landscapes and natural resources influence their opinions about managing environmental resources. You will visit two national parks and learn about natural and historical features, along with the conservation management plans.

See the tentative syllabus (PDF).

Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir was the historical and traditional seat of Icelandic Parliament (or Alþingi) for nearly 900 years. It has a landscape that is rich in natural resources and esthetic beauty. The surrounding area was proclaimed a national park and shrine in 1928, and more recently has been the focus of a comprehensive study of the local geology, meteorology and natural history of fauna and flora. You will learn how this area is sustainably managed, and about its significance as both an environmental and cultural shrine.

Vatnajökull National Park

Here, you will learn about the dynamics of glaciers and volcanoes, and how these two natural features of the Icelandic landscape have interacted in majestic, but often catastrophic, ways to influence the natural resources, food and animal production, and Icelandic culture and history.

In addition to studying environmental science, policies and management strategies of the two national parks, you will experience Icelandic culture.

Cultural experiences will include:

  • shopping for groceries in an Icelandic supermarket
  • watching whales and assessing nesting habitats of marine birds
  • learning about production of Icelandic wool and traditional garments
  • spending time in hot tubs or public, geothermally-heated swimming pools
  • participating in (Icelandic-style) salsa dancing
  • enjoying traditional cuisine including puffin, mutton, and shark

and you will visit:

  • Reykjavik
  • the parliament building
  • the Hekla volcano and valley
  • incredible geysers

For complete information, see the course moodle site.

Apply now!


Students interested in the environmental sciences, policy and management, conservation and management of natural resources, agriculture or sustainability


Program cost to be determined. Baggage fees, some meals and personal expenses are additional.


Len Ferrington is a professor in Entomology. His research interests are aquatic insects. Additionally, he serves as the major coordinator for the Environmental Sciences Policy Management (ESPM) major and leads the ESPM orientation 1001.