Commission For Scientific Research In Greenland

The objectives of the Commission for Scientific Research in Greenland (Kommissionen for Videnskabelige Unders0gelser i Gr0nland, KVUG) are divided between three major fields. A funding agency for promoting ongoing research activities taking place in, or of major interest to Greenland, the Commission for Scientific Research also promotes new research and networking initiatives. In addition, the Commission advises the Danish and the Greenland Ministers of Research regarding research cooperation between Denmark and Greenland. The Danish Ministry of Research funds the activities of the Commission, and its secretariat is located at the Danish Polar Centre in Copenhagen. The Commission consists of 11 members, five from Greenland and five from Denmark, and the chairperson consecutively appointed from Greenland and Denmark. The present chairperson is Ole Marquardt, Rector of Ilisimatusarfik at the University of Greenland. Members have been chosen to represent the five major research areas: humanities, social sciences, natural science, health and medicine, and the technical sciences.

The Commission's budget varies from year to year. In 2000, an annual appropriation of DKK 7.0 million (US$800,000) was reserved by the Ministry of Research for the implementation of special initiatives within polar research. Of this sum the Commission for Scientific Research distributed DKK 2.8 million (US$300,000) for the implementation of tasks with the particular scope of promoting Danish-Greenlandic scientific cooperation in polar research fields, with focus on four issues or goals: (1) development of projects with a Danish-Greenlandic rationale; (2) recruitment of Greenlandic researchers; (3) transfer of knowledge and compilation of knowledge between Danish and Greenlandic research institutions; and (4) presentation of papers by younger researchers at international conferences.

The Commission was first established as an institution in 1878 but has seen marked changes in structure and goal setting over the course of 125 years. While the colonization process starting in 1721 resulted in an elemental interest in the language and culture of the Greenlanders, the trade monopoly established in 1774 resulted in an intensive registration of the population and their activities in relation to the living resources. But it was especially during the second part of the 19th century that an increased general interest in the available resources arose. The intensification of non-Danish scientific expeditions to Greenland, especially from Sweden, England, and Germany, caused a significant consideration of the responsibility of a colonial relationship to include an active policy with regard to investigations in the west coast area. The search for mineral resources for the industrial development in Denmark had turned the focus to geological research, and this initiative was highly stimulated by the potentials of mineral wealth confirmed, for instance, by the registration of massive coal formations in the Vaigat region and cryolite formation. (Cryolite = Na3AlF6; its name originates from the Greek kryos or "frost" and lithos or "stone." Cryolite is a mineral used as catalyst in connection with aluminum smelting in Ivittuut.) One of the institutional consequences was the creation of the Commission for Management of Geological Investigations in Greenland in 1878.

While the starting point for the Commission had been geological research, it became apparent that a more coherent mapping of the geographical and hydrographical conditions was a central issue; hence in 1879, it changed its name to the Commission for Management of Geological and Geographical Investigations in Greenland, and the same year the Commission began publishing its journal Meddelelser om Gr0nland. Due to the growing need for more comprehensive research activities, the Commission expanded its scope considerably in 1925 to include scientists from all the natural sciences as well as several representatives from the social sciences and humanities. As a consequence, the old name was abolished and replaced by the Commission for Management of Scientific Investigations in Greenland.

The Commission's historical emphasis on natural sciences continued with modernization in Greenland after World War II; it even became clear that there was a tremendous need for insight into the social and cultural consequences of these changes. Especially after the establishment of Home Rule in Greenland (1979), pressure from the Greenland government articulated the need for a stronger focus on the social sciences and


humanities as well as a deeper involvement of representatives from Greenland. However, the Commission continued to prioritize the natural sciences as well as an organizational structure dominated by Danish representatives. In 1999, however, a Joint Committee on Danish-Greenlandic Research Co-operation recommended a restructuring of the organization that resulted in the appointment of a new Commission in March 2000. In its revised form, the Commission has the task of proposing new joint Danish-Greenlandic strategies for polar research. The Commission proposes new activities, research, and provides general advice and guidance on polar research issues to the research councils and to other governmental bodies.

Rasmus Ole Rasmussen

Further Reading

Bistrup, H, "Kommissionens Historie 1878-1943." Meddelelser om Grönland, Bd. 134, Nr. 1, K0benhavn: C.A. Reitzels Forlag, 1943 Björnsson, Axel, Ingvild Broch, Joan Pauli Joensen & Mogens Holm, Forskningsaktiviteter pâ Fœr0erne og Grönland. Forskningssamarbejde i Vestnorden I, TemaNord, K0benhavn: Nordisk Ministerrâd, 1997, p. 553

-, orskningspolitik og -strategi for Fœr0erne og

Grönland. Forskningssamarbejde i Vestnorden II, TemaNord, K0benhavn: Nordisk Ministerrâd, 1997, p. 611 Commission for Scientific Research in Greenland (Kommissionen for Videnskabelige Unders0gelser i Gr0nland), National strategi for polarforskning 1998-2002, K0benhavn, 1996 (in Danish; see

S0rensen, Axel Kjœr, Danmark Grönland I det 20. Arhundrede— en historisk oversigt, K0benhavn: Nyt Nordisk Forlag Arnold Busck, 1983 Kommissionen for Videnskabelige Unders0gelser i Gr0nland website,

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