The Worldviews of Ice

Constructions of the Arctic at the Science/Politics Interface

The developments in the rapidly changing Arctic regions have far-reaching global implications. Hence, there is an enormous need for Arctic Science. (Geo-) political worldviews have shaped Arctic Science since the early times of polar explorations. But to what extent are worldviews still present in contemporary Arctic Science? When referring to the Arctic today, inevitably, pictures and imaginaries are invoked that lead straight to the (seemingly simple) question: What is the Arctic? 

‘The Worldviews of Ice’ seeks to investigate how knowledge about the Arctic is produced in the natural sciences. The project starts from the observation that science and politics have a complex relationship. Different or even competing ideas of the Arctic influence how natural science research agendas are shaped in and about the Arctic. We want to understand what role worldviews play in an idealized Arctic science/policy cycle – including the funding, the doing and translating of science into the policymaking process.

Our Research

  1. Preparing knowledge: Funding
    We look at the development of funding priorities and the interaction between scientific actors in the field of Arctic research and public funding agencies in three selected countries (Canada, Germany, Norway)
  2. Generating knowledge: Images in research
    We explore worldviews of natural scientists working at Canadian, German and Norwegian research institutions
  3. Transmitting knowledge: Science in the Arctic Council
    Intensity and quality of interaction between scientists and political actors at the Arctic Council


  • document analysis
  • in-depth interviews

Responsible Persons

Prof. Dr. Mathias Albert, Faculty of Sociology, University of Bielefeld
Prof. Dr. Holger Straßheim, Faculty of Sociology, University of Bielefeld

Projects we participate in

Svalbard Social Science Initiative