By Matt Pickles
There are going to be no college students beginning an undergraduate diploma in Eskimology this autumn, for the primary time in nearly a century.
What’s believed to be the world’s solely diploma in Eskimology and Arctic Research, taught on the College of Copenhagen in Denmark, has stopped admitting new college students after cuts to larger schooling funding.
An official on the college stated that this was a “freeze”. It’s unclear if he was making a pun.
The college intends to confess college students once more in 2017.
However with additional cuts anticipated, and the federal government encouraging universities to prioritise programs with giant numbers of scholars, Eskimology faces an unsure future.
But Eskimologists are refusing to go down with out a battle.
The topic would possibly recall to mind igloos, ice fishing, the North Pole and Pingu.
However they are saying learning the Arctic has by no means been extra related, due to the area’s quickly melting ice sheets and growing curiosity by governments and extraction firms in mining its pure sources.
The topic was launched on the College of Copenhagen in 1920 to show college students concerning the language, historical past and tradition of communities within the Arctic.
These communities at the moment are referred to as Inuit relatively than Eskimo, however the educational self-discipline has remained as Eskimology.
Social and political points affecting Greenland, resembling mining and local weather change, are a giant a part of Copenhagen’s undergraduate and grasp’s programs within the topic.
The main target is on Greenland due to Denmark’s colonial historical past within the nation. College students come not simply from Denmark and Greenland, however the UK, France, Poland and north America.
Eskimology’s scholar consumption was suspended after the federal government’s January funds requested the college to seek out financial savings of £52m.
This led to greater than 500 job losses and a brand new deal with topics that cater for a lot of college students. Various smaller topics had been frozen or abolished solely.
Universities in Denmark are funded by the federal government and free to Danish college students, however the cuts may power them to rethink their objective.
Ought to they deal with instructing extra vocational topics which can be in demand by employers, or ought to they proceed to pursue data for its personal sake?
But an Eskimologist at Copenhagen says the topic has by no means been extra related.
Greenland’s melting sea ice sheets, requires its independence from Denmark, and the worldwide curiosity in its mineral, oil and fuel sources have led to governments and extraction firms coming to Copenhagen’s Eskimologists for briefings.
Frank Sejersen, considered one of three Eskimology professors at Copenhagen, is learning how Greenlanders ought to reply to the advances of enormous worldwide mining companies desirous to extract its sources.
Greenland achieved a level of self-governance from Denmark in 2009, together with extraction rights over its huge mineral and oil sources. Since then, Greenland has been besieged by presents from firms in Russia, Canada and Norway.
Many Greenlanders wish to settle for these profitable presents, however Prof Sejersen’s analysis urges them to be cautious.
“Our analysis group has discovered that Greenland would wish an enormous variety of mines to fulfill their expectations of extra financial independence from Denmark, and even then the cash raised shouldn’t be spent however invested for the long-term to keep away from overheating the economic system,” he argues.
“We’re additionally learning how to ensure unskilled Greenlanders additionally profit from the expansion of the mining trade, and what impact this trade may need on social equality within the nation.”
Eskimologists at Copenhagen have acquired extra requests than ever from international embassies and corporations within the Arctic.
“They wish to perceive the politics of the area, whether or not Greenland will change into impartial from Denmark and what impact this may need, and the way local weather change will have an effect on the dynamics of the area,” says Prof Sejersen.
“We give these briefings without spending a dime – it’s a part of our function as a government-funded college.
“The cuts we face within the coming years are extraordinarily excessive and we do not know the way they’ll hit or the place or when.”
However he insists that with “so many issues occurring within the Arctic”, Eskimology will be “on the forefront of Arctic analysis”.
Tine Pars, the rector of Greenland’s solely college, says the existence of Eskimology at Copenhagen has improved relations between the 2 international locations at a time when Greenland is contemplating turning into impartial from Denmark.
“We’ve had quite a lot of collaboration with Eskimology and Arctic Research at Copenhagen College through the years,” she says. “These educational collaborations have been good for analysis and instructing, and good for each international locations.”
Copenhagen is the one college on the earth the place Greenlandic, the nationwide language of Greenland, is taught as a international language.
This implies Greenlanders who solely communicate Danish typically come to Copenhagen’s Eskimologists to be taught the language of their nation at college stage.
When the federal government cuts had been introduced in January, media and politicians in Denmark and Greenland referred to as for Eskimology to be saved.
Prof Sejersen says his division’s research of the connection between Denmark and Greenland might even profit different international locations with their very own independence debates.
“Greenland’s transition from colonial governance to self-determination has been made in a pleasant and productive manner, and international embassies have come to us for recommendation about how they will replicate this in their very own nation,” he says.
The association implies that Denmark is a member of the EU however Greenland just isn’t.
If one other referendum on Scottish independence is known as within the subsequent few years, maybe Theresa Could will ask an Eskimologist for recommendation.