The call for proposals is now closed. We thank all the participants for their application.

Reminder: The “Changing Artic” programme recruits students on a annual basis. Furthermore, SPI also offers funding towards the participation of students in field and summer schools linked to polar topics.

Project description, 2019-2020

Thanks to SPI, the programme “Changing Arctic” is open to eligible Master's students affiliated to any Swiss institution of higher education. If you are interested in participating in an expedition heading to the Barents Sea or conducting some field work on the Yamal Peninsula along the notoriously famous “Death Road”, have a look at the programme description below and participate in the next call for proposals.

The cruise through the Barents Sea takes place on the research vessel Professor Molchanov. © Changing Arctic


Changing Arctic is an interdisciplinary programme aiming at creating a hands-on and site-specific learning environment, based on international cooperation and a conversation between different academic fields. The central element of the programme is the fieldwork in the Russian Arctic. This region, undergoing dramatic environmental and political changes captured by the label “Hot Arctic” raises critical societal questions that are beyond the reach of isolated disciplines or national scientific establishments.

The premise of the programme is that recognizing and tackling such issues is as a key element of professionalizing experience. Our fieldwork focuses on specific problems related to climate change in the region of study which are defined in collaboration between Swiss researchers, local universities, and administrative partners. The program is open to Master's students in all academic disciplines, from both social and natural sciences, including history, law and Slavic languages, as well as physical sciences, environmental sciences and mathematics.


Three Swiss universities (EPFL, UNIGE, and UNIL) launched the project in 2015. The main ambition was to provide the students of these institutions with an opportunity to complement their professional education by considering the implication of one major problem of global relevance, namely the “changing arctic”, in a different national context and outside of the traditional university settings — the classroom and the laboratory.

The idea that working in the globalised world demands understanding of promises and challenges of international cooperation drives the programme. Accordingly, it is structured as a series of partnerships with Russian institutions and centered on experience of the Russian academic, but also social and cultural, milieus. The interdisciplinary approach, the multicultural context and the professionalizing fieldwork provide an outstanding learning environment.

Swiss Partners 2019-2020

EPFL, Swiss Polar Institute and University of Lausanne (UNIL)

Russian Partners

Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, M.V. Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University, Novosibirsk State University, Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum-Gas Geology and Geophysics, Tumen, Tyumen State University, and the administration of the Yamal region.

2019-2020 edition

The 2019-2020 edition of the programme, which will take place at two sites, the Molchanov expedition in the Barents Sea and the Site 501 project.

The terrestrial field work will take place around the notorious “death road”, Yamal Peninsula. © Changing Arctic

Call for proposals

The application consists of the following documents: motivation letter, an outline of a tentative project, CV transcripts of previous academic year. The applications should be submitted to our programme administrator, Isabelle Hügli at or

Credit equivalence and other practical details

Contact or for additional information on the credit equivalence in case you are not registered at EPFL or UNIL.

General structure and calendar

The programme operates over three academic semesters (Fall, Spring, and Fall) and each Swiss partner institution oversees the attribution of the academic credits amounting to 30 ECTS. During the fall and spring semesters, the student participant prepares the fieldwork by attending a set of relevant courses at her home institution or one of the partner institutions (12 ECTS). The practical preparation for the trip (6 ECTS) includes three weekend modules organised by the program, project-specific teamwork such as a bibliographical study, as well as software and instrument training. The trip to the fieldwork sites takes place during three weeks over the summer period and involves data collection and analysis to be presented in the form of the final report during the fall semester (12 ECTS).

It is important that the participating student identifies a teacher-supervisor from his/her institution, who validates the choice and relevance of courses, participates in overseeing practical preparation, and assesses the final report in coordination with the programme organisers.


Swiss partner institutions


Student contribution (500 CHF/student)

Swiss student participants

About 20 per year

Head of the programme

Prof. Eric Hoesli, EPFL