tom barry arctic circle talk

Arctic Council member Tom Barry urges SJC students to get involved in Arctic research.

Photo caption: Tom Barry, Arctic Council member and Executive Secretary for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna

New relationships between businesses and educational institutions in Maine and the Arctic are developing and Saint Joseph’s College is in the mix. When Portland was designated as the site for the 2016 Arctic Council meetings, Saint Joseph’s supported the international event by hosting a lecture and by transporting Council delegates around the city in the college’s distinctive bus. These delegates included indigenous and national representatives who had traveled from as far away as Alaska, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Japan, and Russia.

Arctic Council member and Executive Secretary for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Tom Barry presented to students, faculty, staff, and community members in the Viola George Auditorium on the imperative of documenting changes in biodiversity, climate, and human impacts in the Arctic. “If policymakers are to act upon issues pertaining to transportation, conservation, or natural resource extraction in the Arctic,” he said, “they need to know what is already going on there.”

Barry invited students to get involved in scientific projects that support these goals. Barry is based at the University of Akureyri on the far northern coast of Iceland, a small city where a Saint Joseph’s College course will visit in June next year. Professor Johan Erikson will lead the three-week expeditionary field geology course in Iceland that will feature active volcanoes, glaciers, thermal geysers, columnar basalts, lava flows, tectonic plates, glacial ice caps, mid-ocean ridge, waterfalls, and fjords. Professor Erikson said that this course fits into a larger Saint Joseph’s initiative to immerse students in the practice of science. “There’s only so much you can learn about environmental science or geoscience in the classroom. Practicing science in the field improves the quality of their education and helps our economy by building a cohort of young scientists who are eager to go into STEM fields and solve real-world problems.”

You can watch Tom Barry’s lecture under “Lecture Series” at

Questions about the course in Iceland should go to