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Karl Torstein Hetland

Karl Hetland makes his home in Lårdal, Norway, a small idyllic village of only 230 inhabitants 220 km outside Oslo where he teaches physics and mathematics daily at Vest-Telemark High School. Through the GLOBE Program, Hetland and his students have become members of a much larger world community. "In Norway, we have always defined The GLOBE Program as an opportunity for schools to take part in a worldwide science and environmental project." Hetland said.  "From the very beginning we focused on international collaboration and established school-to-school partnerships in Europe. The schools that really integrate GLOBE in their daily work have dramatically changed their focus from local to global."

Hetland has played a significant role in the advancement of GLOBE in his country. He has served as Country Coordinator for GLOBE since 1995 when Norway was the tenth country to join GLOBE. He was elected GLOBE Europe and Eurasia GLOBE International Advisory Committee (GIAC) Representative from 2006-2008. And in June 2012 he was re-elected Chairman of GLOBE Europe and Eurasia.

Collaborative projects with which Hetland has been involved, include:

  • Project Budburst (Estonia, The Czech republic and Norway); documenting phenology observations associated with the GLOBE Budburst protocol,
  • Arctic POP (Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia), measuring brominated flame-retardants that have entered the food chain in fish in the Arctic region;
  • e-LSEE (Estonia, Poland, Norway, The Czech republic, UK and The Netherlands) examining the use of GLOBE Data in the Classroom; and
  • The Tree Ring Project (Croatia, The Czech republic and Norway).

The Tree Ring Project engages students, teachers and scientists in closely observing annual rings in the cores of trees to understand how to extract climatic information. The Project originated with Hetland, Diana Garasic, GLOBE Country Coordinator, Croatia and Tree Ring Project Manager and Assistant Country Coordinator Ilona Krpcová Czech Republic. Students in Norway, The Czech Republic and Croatia work together with two dendro-climatologists, Andreas Kirchefer from Norway and Vladimir Kušan from Croatia, to collect and prepare core samples for analysis to pinpoint indicators of environmental changes that have occurred during the lifespan of the trees. Currently, 24 schools participate in the project––10 from Norway, six from The Czech Republic and eight from Croatia––working together in pairs, called "twin schools."

"GLOBE has also showed me that it is possible to work on international projects from a small school in a rural district. All in all GLOBE has played, and continues to play, an important role in my professional life," says Karl who clearly enjoys wearing many hats: as teacher, scientist and GLOBE Program leader. "My experience with GLOBE has given me many opportunities both national and internationally. Through all these years GLOBE has been my connection directly to the Ministry of Education and in the last years to The Norwegian Centre for Science Education," where he serves as Manager of The Energy Network.

Reflecting on memorable events and the value of GLOBE experience, Hetland says, "The most important for me, personally, is simply the worldwide network of people that I have come to know. The so-called "GLOBE family" has shown me how people from all over the world can work together despite all differences in culture, religion etc. And of course, most important of all are the students. To take part in a GLOBE Learning Expedition, (where the world community of students comes together to share their research projects and cultivate collaborative partnerships and friendships) is to really understand what GLOBE is all about and what role the program can play in the life of each and every student who comes in contact with GLOBE."