A pair of US-Greenland education partnerships get State Department funding

The University of Alaska Fairbanks, which leads both programs, said they would receive $3 million in federal funding.

By Kevin McGwin - December 4, 2020
Students emerge from KTI’s current mining training facility in Sisimiut, Greenland. (KTI)

Two recently announced educational partnerships between Greenlandic and American educational institutions will receive $3 million in U.S. State Department funding to “foster collaboration between education communities in the United States and Greenland, as well as expand mutual educational and economic opportunities,” according to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which will lead both initiatives.

The agreements come amidst a growing U.S. presence in Greenland, that, in April, culminated in a commitment by Washington to invest $12 million as a way to “jumpstart” relations between the two countries, a State Department spokesman said at the time.

In the first of the two programs, UAF, together with the University of Utah, will receive $1.2 million as part of a State Department initiative to help Greenland expand its mining sector.

[Greenland welcomes US aid, but some lawmakers fear it could bring entanglements]

During the three-year program, students and staff at KTI, a vocational school, will receive training in the U.S., while American experts will assist the school with curriculum development and the establishment of training facilities.

In September, President Donald Trump identified Greenland one of several allied countries that could serve as a potential source of strategic minerals that the U.S. has limited capacity to produce on its own. This was followed in November by an announcement that the U.S. Export-Import Bank was prepared to invest $500 million in Greenland’s largest planned mining project.

According to the State Department, funding improvements in KTI’s mining programs will help it to better understand the U.S. mining industry and American industry standards.

[In Copenhagen meeting, Pompeo talks up renewed US-Greenland ties]

In the second of the two agreements, unveiled on Monday, the State Department said it would spend $1.8 million to establish the Arctic Education Alliance, an educational partnership that involves the participation of three U.S. universities and two Greenlandic educational institutions.

The partnership, which is led by UAF, will focus on establishing vocational education programs in Greenland that prepare people for jobs in sustainable tourism, hospitality and land and fisheries management.

According to UAF, the participating institutions will seek to address Greenland’s educational needs and come up with ways to meet them.