Students from the Muskie School’s Geography-Anthropology and Tourism & Hospitality programs spent eight days traveling across Iceland to study landscape change through the lens of natural and anthropogenic influences. Iceland’s unique geography and its recent development trajectory focused on tourism provided an ideal location to study the impact of both natural forces and socio-economic conditions on an ever-shifting landscape. As students traveled the Ring Road around Iceland, led by their faculty Dr. Firooza Pavri and Maureen LaSalle, they explored the influences of plate tectonics and recent climate change and warming trends on the landscape. Additionally, they considered how the Icelandic economy with its recent focus on tourism development has capitalized and promoted its natural assets to give rise to one of the fastest growing tourism sectors seen anywhere across the world. Tourism is now the largest industry in Iceland but its success as an economic driver is highly dependent on a sustainable growth trajectory.
Two students from the Muskie School's Tourism & Hospitality program interned at AAA Northern New England over spring 2019 to build the itinerary for the travel component of this course. Students Allison Pickering and Tiana Burton worked with AAA staff to outline daily activities, arrange special back-of-the-house visits to IcelandAir and Blue Lagoon, and prepare an itinerary package for all students enrolled in the course. Students Allison and Tiana were also able to learn more about back office AAA activites including how their trips and events are organized. They were mentored by Janice Manley, Jennifer Wakefield and Eric Baxter at AAA and Dr. Sara Ghezzi and Maureen LaSalle at USM.
Students employed observational methods as well as satellite imaging technologies to document and analyze changes across the Icelandic landscape. They also engaged in some unique Icelandic experiences, including a glacier hike on Falljokull glacier on Iceland’s largest icecap, the Vatnajokull, and understanding the engineering behind geothermal energy utilization and taking a dip in geothermally heated lagoons and pools!