Dartmouth has a strong sense of place that encourages lasting bonds between people and the natural environment. The Institute of Arctic Studies is the Dickey Center's home for all environmental programming, as well as national and international climate and polar initiatives.

The Institute of Arctic Studies is led by Director Ross Virginia, Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science, Fulbright Arctic Initiative Co-Lead Scholar, and University of Greenland (Ilisimatusarfik) Board Member. Associated core faculty include Matthew Ayres, Associate Director and Professor of Biological Sciences, and Lauren Culler, Research Assistant Professor and Science Outreach Coordinator. Dickey Center Associate Director and ENVS Adjunct Professor, Melody Brown Burkins, serves as Dartmouth's UArctic Councillor and works closely with the IAS team on issues of science policy and diplomacy. A full list of faculty affiliated with IAS can be found here.


Dartmouth's Rauner Library houses photos from Vilhjalmur Stefansson's 1913-1916 Canadian Arctic Expedition and many others. 


Global warming has made Greenland ground zero for climate change. Dartmouth graduate students and faculty are conducting research there. 

Lonnie Thompson

We bring prominent polar scientists to campus like "The Ice Hunter" Dr. Lonnie Thompson to explain the science and implications of climate change. 

DAvid Hamlin in Africa

We also host artists and filmmakers like National Geographic photographer David Hamlin to present environmental issues from a creative perspective.

Our Legacy  

Since its founding in 1989, the Institute of Arctic Studies has focused on the environmental, cultural, and political dimensions of the North and the critical impact of climate change. But Dartmouth’s great tradition of northern studies began long ago with the student and legendary 18th-century explorer John Ledyard. It continued into the 20th century with Arctic explorer, scholar, and founder of Dartmouth's Northern and Polar Studies Program, Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879-1962). One of his legacies is the Stefansson Special Collection on Polar Exploration, one of the premier library collections in the world on the history of the Arctic and Antarctica. Evelyn Stefansson Nef (1913-2009), a researcher and authority on the Far North, generously endowed the undergraduate Stefansson Fellowship and the Institute of Arctic Studies, assuring its continued strength and growth. 

Our Future

The Institute of Arctic Studies has become a crossroads for interdisciplinary research, discussion, and education in polar studies. We provide undergraduate and graduate students with guidance on educational and research opportunities. We support a graduate program in polar environmental change that is preparing a new generation of scientists and engineers. Our seminars and public events with notable scholars and policymakers highlight the importance of polar regions and global ecosystems in world affairs and spark productive discussion of these issues within our community and beyond.

A major National Science Foundation IGERT grant awarded to the Dickey Center in 2008 created a PhD curriculum in polar environmental change that has included polar science, engineering, and the human dimensions of environmental change. Our work in Polar Environmental Change has expanded to encompasses research in Greenland, undergraduate and graduate courses, research fellowships, science communication and outreach activities, and a network of national and international partnerships. Our link to the North is made stronger by an institutional commitment to Native American and Native Alaskan students through the Native American Studies Program


The John Sloan Dickey Center