students standing on a cliff overlooking a waterfall in iceland

Iceland Field Course - Science, Systems and Sustainability

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Application documents

About the program

Coursework: ISCI 361: Field Course: Science, Systems and Sustainability, 3 credits

Contemporary scientists agree that solutions to complex global challenges such as environmental sustainability call for “systems thinking,” the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole. Systems thinking as an approach to problem-solving argues that the components parts of a system can best be understood in the context of relationships with each other and with other systems, rather than in isolation.

A scientific approach to systems thinking requires us to consider landscapes, regions or whole continents as systems. In these systems, elements such as land, air, water, human societies, plants, and animals interact in ways that influence the likelihood that the system will survive or perish.

This three-week, three-credit field course builds on ISCI 360: Systems Approaches to Regional Sustainability. Iceland, as a completely self-contained nation-state “system,” offers a particularly valuable case study. During this program, you will experience Icelandic land, ecosystems and communities first-hand, and hear perspective from locals and local experts on contemporary and historic factors influencing sustainability in the Icelandic system, including topics such as:

  • geological and hydrological systems
  • impacts of glaciation
  • factors influencing local climate
  • the influence of climate, water, and land on terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and the resultant influence on agriculture and local energy systems

In addition, the field course will function as a data-gathering field trip for you, as part of a team, to pursue a pre-selected research project investigating possible effects of perturbations of the Icelandic system. You will also be involved in gathering, analyzing and presenting data and information for your course logbook (the major written assignment for the course) and will make at least two field trips per week to visit sites of geological, glaciological, ecological and historical interest relevant to the program.

You should expect an intensive study experience with compressed coursework.

Enrolment will be limited to 26 participants. Priority will be given to Integrated Science students. Visit the Integrated Science website for additional details.

General timeline

Program Dates: April 27 - May 14, 2018

Tentative timeline.

Part one: Introduction to Iceland, “Golden Circle” tour, Blue Lagoon, and museum visits

Part two: Lectures from experts, Reykjanes peninsula, Carbon Recycling International, Svartsengi geotherman energy pland, and Eastfjords

Part three: Kárahnjúkar hydroelectric dam and power plant, crater hike, hot springs, Akureyri

Part four: Guided boat tour of Breiðafjörður, final presentations

For the 2018 trip, a Ring Road trip will be included.


This program is suitable for students in 3rd and above in the Faculty of Science. Students in other faculties may also apply. Please contact  if you are interested in the program but do not belong to the above programs.

Program fees and costs

The program fee is $3000 (approximately). The final fee depends on the number of students in the program. Students do not pay the Go Global fee when applying to a Global Seminar. The Go Global fee is built into the Program Fee and is payable upon acceptance to the program.

All qualifying students will receive a $1,000 Go Global Award.

Program Fee Includes
Program Fee Does Not Include

Accommodations in Iceland


In country travel that is related to the program


Classroom fees


Some excursions and day- visits 

Meals  - at least 2 group meals

Go Global Fee

*UBC Tuition - Not included. Part of your costs

This amount will differ for domestic and international students. This amount will be assigned to you on the Student Service Centre (SSC) according to normal UBC tuition timelines. Read about tuition fees.

This amount is not determined or applied by Go Global.

All students participating in a Global Seminar will have tuition applied to their SSC account.

*Flights - Not Included. Part of your costs

Travel to Iceland is a separate cost. You are responsible for arranging your own travel.Go Global can provide suggestions upon program confirmation. 

*Incidentals - Not Included. Part of your costs

Some examples include: personal mobile communication, personal transportation that is not related to the learning outcomes of the program, additional meals that are not already identified as part of the program fee, immunizations, Visas

Global Seminars refund policy

Refund on deposits

Students are eligible for a refund of their deposit minus the administrative fee ($415) if they withdraw from the program within 30 days of paying the deposit; this provides time to fill vacated spots so the cost to other students does not increase. After 30 days, the deposit is non-refundable. Exceptions may be determined at the discretion of Go Global. Any funds allocated to students through the ARA program must be returned in their entirety.

Refund on program fees

Students who withdraw from a Global Seminar after having paid the remaining program fee are not eligible for a refund of their deposit or the program fee. Exceptions may be determined at the discretion of Go Global. Any funds allocated to students through the ARA program must be returned in their entirety.

Students who decide to withdraw their application must submit a request in writing by email to the Global Seminar Advisor at


Go Global Vancouver

When emailing us, please include:

  1. Your student number in the subject line
  2. Your full name and if you are an incoming or outgoing exchange student in the body of the email

Go Global Vancouver

Telephone: 604 822 0942

Fax: 604 822 9885

UBC Life Building
6138 Student Union Blvd
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1


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