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Arctic Economics:  Environment and Seasonality

ECN 3642/SCN 3642

Babson College


This internationally- and environmentally- focused course will examine how changes in seasonality affect economic activity in the Arctic. We will primarily focus on how these changes affect transportation, particularly the ice roads that are an integral part of the Arctic economy. A particular area of interest and research will be the ice roads that help supply diamond mines and other areas north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, which will serve as the base. Some of these ice roads were featured on Season One of “Ice Road Truckers” on The History Channel.

This course will focus on both the economics and science related to the Arctic. In the science and math fields, the course will focus on the geology of earth science and diamond mining; meteorology; snow science, particularly as it relates to ice roads; the environment; global warming issues; and the mathematical, statistical, and computer modeling necessary to predict when ice roads might open and close. In economics, the course will focus on the economy of the Arctic and Yellowknife; the ice roads as a for-profit business; small business entrepreneurship; the value of goods transported by the ice road; the multiplier effect of, and economic impact of, the expenditures on the ice roads and the expenditures on the goods and services provided; and the cost to businesses in terms of working capital and inventory and capital costs associated with the uncertainty and variability of ice road opening and closing.

A willingness to engage in research and be comfortable with uncertainty is a must. The course will combine lectures with real and important research assignments while on campus. Students in this course will be actively engaged in ongoing, actual research, and will be part of an active research team, hence students must be interested in being involved with the actual research process and are willing, able, and committed to traveling to the Arctic during Spring Break.  Coursework associated with this course will include a flexible, evening-based class time.  Scientists from Alaska will fly in to teach specific scientific topics; other Babson faculty will also teach related topics. While in the Arctic, students will be expected to demonstrate initiative, be self-motivated but listen to direction, and gather data on their own from a variety of governmental, corporate, and small-business groups/associations/organizations.

See Babson Course Description for more details



  1. Barren Lands: An Epic Search for Diamonds in the North American Arctic, by Kevin Krajick.

  2. Finding the Arctic, by Matthew Sturm.  (This will be distributed by me via e-mail.)