Ellen Ahlness, Ph.D. Candidate


University of Washington

Country: United States (Washington)

Research Interests

International Law & Organization


Environmental Policy

European Politics

Foreign Policy

Race, Ethnicity and Politics


Arctic Security

Human Security

International Norms

Countries of Interest






My Research:

Nuclear waste, oil spills, and melting permafrost are all present problems in the Arctic. While these environmentally damaging problems are in part the legacy of the Cold War, present problems are exacerbated by states and firms hoping to capitalize on the emerging market, shipping routes, and fishing stocks. Moreover, a significant cause of environmental problems in the Arctic comes afrom the pursuit of securitization policies. The pursuit of military security in the Arctic has resulted in serious damage to the environment. In the pursuit of traditional security measures, a new threat emerges: environmental security. Certain environmental conditions, often resulting from environmental change, can pose an acute threat to security, and exacerbate state and individual vulnerability. The concept of the environmental changes as a threat to individual, national, or state security has created a new discourse in studies on sovereignty and security. States and stakeholder threats will only continue to be exacerbated by militarization of the North. Simultaneously, environmental degradation makes it more difficult to maintain and develop an Arctic military presence, creating a feedback loop. It is essential for scholars to consider the expanding definition of security in geopolitics. 


Journal Articles:

(2014) The Handshake that Made History: The Norwegian-Minnesotan Troop Exchange, The Cross Section Journal

Norway and Minnesota share a common cultural history and enjoy strong fraternal bonds, symbolized by the stationing of the American 99th Infantry Battalion in Norway after World War II to help secure a post-war peace. After the successful deportation of German soldiers from Norway, U.S. troops withdrew and the relationship visibility between the American troops and the Norwegian military gradually declined over the next several decades. In 1974, the U.S.-Norway Troop Reciprocal Exchange Agreement (NOREX) was established with a handshake between American National Guard soldiers and the Norwegian Home Guard. The military ties between the two countries were revitalized, along with newly forged diplomatic and increased cultural ties. This program ran successfully for 19 years before it became a formal agreement between the two countries. Since the successful inception of the U.S.-Norway Troop Reciprocal Exchange Agreement, the military relationship between Minnesota and Norway developed intersectional traits, including cultural, and fraternal ties. Based on the mutually beneficial outcome of the exchange, the NOREX program became the model of the United States’ State Partnership Program, which sought to further develop alliances with post-Soviet Union liberated countries. Through the State Partnership Program, the U.S. has established troop exchanges between U.S. states and other counties, in turn leading to increased military cooperation, diplomacy, and cultural understanding, just as the employment of the 99th Infantry Battalion forged a relationship that continues today through the NOREX agreement.

(2014) Janteloven and Social Conformity in Thorbjørn Egner’s Literature, NCUR Proceedings

Janteloven is a set of fictional laws detailed in Danish author Aksel Sandemose’s 1933 book, “A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks,” which satirizes the Scandinavian view towards individuality versus the collective. These laws, consisting of rules such as “thou shalt not believe thou art better than us,” direct a negative attitude towards those who stand out from the cultural norm. This contradicts the ever-growing ethnic diversity in Norway today. Today, Janteloven is regarded as a sociological term describing the unified mindset in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway that champions societies where inhabitants are encouraged to set the community’s needs over the individual’s. This mindset is prevalent as an agent of socialization though Norwegian children’s literature. A sample of eight children books by Norwegian author Thorbjørn Egner, published between 1940 and 1958, were analyzed, and examples of behaviors or speech exhibiting Janteloven behavior were recorded. These were scaled to the range of society affected: the individual, family, friends, or the community as a whole. This research, discovered that each book contains at least one example of a main character conforming to Janteloven behavior and social norms. The results of the research imply that Egner’s work strongly promotes community harmony over individual social achievement, suggesting that Norwegian’s children’s literature enforces the Janteloven mindset. These findings help identify an area from which Norwegian cultural identity is shaped, and leads to the study of how this mindset creates attitudes that youth have toward their society, especially in an increasingly heterogeneous Norway.