Expedition Well Wishes...
"The Arctic is a very special region, stunning it its beauty and important scientifically, environmentally, economically and socially. During my Arctic Arc expedition in 2007, where I walked from Siberia to Greenland over 2000 km, I saw parts of this region very few people have experienced. It gave me a new appreciation of our world, and the fragility of the earth, and the polar regions in particular, especially when faced with climate change.
The participants of Students on Ice are not only lucky to experience this region, but are the decision makers and activists of tomorrow, and what they will learn on this journey and take back to their families and communities has the potential to create great change for the future. I wish the students and teachers an incredible voyage, and I hope they won't come away with a single appreciation of a unique region, but with a fire in their belly to create a sustainable new future."Alain Hubert,
Polar Explorer and Founder, The International Polar Foundation
Our journey to the Arctic will bring together an inspiring international team of students, educators, scientists, historians, artists, elders, explorers, authors, leaders, innovators and polar experts. The positive energy and synergies of group members working together are sure to create rich a environment for learning and discovery!
Students on Ice provides participants with unique educational experiences that will challenge the way they perceive the world. Our aim is not to simply provide students with a trip to a unique destination, but rather to give students an opportunity to have an aesthetic experience in some of the most wild and awe-inspiring ecosystems in the world. We do not want students to just pass through a place with camera in hand, but rather, to listen to the land; to feel these natural places, and in turn, explore how humans feel when immersed in such places. Ultimately, we hope students will experience a transformative connection with nature; a connection that changes the way they understand and act in the world.
Our approach to education weaves together elements of experiential, expeditionary, inquiry-based, and place-based learning. In starting with a very 'hands-on' approach, active participation and critical thinking are important elements in the SOI learning process. Our expeditions become personal learning journeys and include general knowledge building, the development of a relational understanding of the issues, opportunities and challenges facing the Arctic of today and in the future, as well as personal reflection on how each student might transfer this unique learning experience into his/her daily life post-expedition. We recognize that the journey will be unique for each student based on the life experiences that he/she brings with them to the expedition. Furthermore, we recognize (and embrace) that expeditions have all kinds of learning edges. For some they will be about new food, 24-hour days or being away from home. For others the edges will be about being in the north or the experience of living on the sea. For others the edges will be cultural, interacting with people from other parts of the world, people with different passions. And for others the edges will be revealed on entering the natural world on its terms and having up close and personal encounters with the northern plants, animals and processes of climate change. Still others will be moved by the personal journeys and stories of fellow travelers. Subtle or profound, these will all be totally valid outcomes of our journey. By challenging and supporting students to step out of the “comfortable middle” to the edges of what they know, is where the richest opportunities for learning, big or small, will take place.
Furthermore, as SOI matures into its 13th year of polar education, and our partnerships grow and deepen, our educational approach has evolved to better reflect the complexities of the myriad of issues relevant to the Arctic as they emerge in broader public discourse. We are keen to create a unique and personal learning experience for students in which they can critically explore and develop more comprehensive perspectives on how environmental, economic and socio-cultural dimensions of today’s Arctic are relationally connected. Students must have opportunities to question and connect the dots. It is the collective task of the SOI education team members to help students connect these dots in a way that is personal and meaningful for each student.
The collective aim of SOI’s education team is to make the learning that takes place on the expedition accessible, palpable, and critically relevant to the students. We want the students to be able to take this ‘personal knowledge’ gained on expedition – lessons learned in a context that is rich with the tastes, smells, feelings, images, sensations and emotions of first hand experience—and to transfer and apply it to their everyday lives in their respective home communities, despite the geographical, sociocultural, and socioeconomic diversity representative in our students. It is our hope that each student’s SOI expedition experience will serve as a transformative catalyst to drive what they do, how they behave, and the decisions they make about future engagement as global citizens.
2013 Educational Themes
The theme for this summer’s expedition is the “Changing Arctic.” As we are all well aware, the changes to/in the Arctic are influencing all dimensions of life including ecological, socio-cultural, economic, and geo-political. With Canada’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council poised to begin and the implementation of Canada’s Northern Strategy, this is a critically important time in the Arctic. Embodied within our theme—the ‘Changing Arctic’— are six central and interconnected pillars.
These pillars include:
(1) Arctic culture & social dimensions;
(2) the history of the North, including the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition;
(3) global climate change & environmental sustainability;
(4) entrepreneurship & economic development;
(5) role of youth; and
(6) policy & leadership.
The expedition’s education program has five main goals:
- CONNECT to the natural world.
- FOSTER a new understanding and respect for the planet.
- LEARN about the Arctic environment and northern cultures
- DISCOVER solutions to our most pressing challenges.
- INSPIRE each other to make a difference.
Participating in a world-class interdisciplinary education program, students will develop the knowledge, skills, perspectives and practices needed to be polar ambassadors, community builders and environmentally responsible citizens.
Students will learn about:
...the geological, geopolitical, cultural, artistic and exploration history of the region; geography; terrestrial ecology; flora and fauna; glaciology; oceanography; marine biology; atmospheric sciences; and contemporary issues.
Environmental Issues, Solutions and Leadership
...environment understood in the broadest sense of the word, where the planet is regarded as a global ecosystem in which all natural and human created systems are interconnected; issues such as climate change, conservation, biodiversity, energy, population growth, consumption, resource depletion, cultural change, adaptation and resiliency; dependency of social and economic systems on natural systems; the importance of environmental factors to human well-being; and locally-relevant sustainable living practices. Consideration will also be given to contemporary social, economical and geopolitical issues ranging from health and wellness, and quality of life, to community design, financial systems, sovereignty and international law.
Students will begin to REFLECT on expedition experiences and TRANSLATE these experiences in ways that are personally relevant to home life and future aspirations.
Students will be supported in planning next steps and making decisions.
Students will TAKE ACTION!
The expedition’s education program has three main phases:
Phase 1) Before Expedition
A pre-expedition preparatory program designed to help get students into an Arctic mindset is available in the Resource section of this website. This program is not mandatory, but is available to provide background information to interested students.
Prior to the expedition, students are also encouraged to do as much reading and research as possible. This site has some excellent resources to help get students started, as well as a suggested reading list. Be sure to check out many of the web-links listed on this site and the stories, announcements and links posted to SOI's Blog. Begin familiarizing yourself with the many issues facing the Arctic.
Students are encouraged to prepare a list of questions that are of interest to them in their personal expedition journal.
Students on Ice encourages students to answer the following questions BEFORE their arrival to Ottawa:
1) What does this expedition mean to you?
2) What does the Arctic mean to you?
3) What are you most excited to learn about or experience?
In the personal journal that we have asked you to bring, reflect on the expedition themes, goals, objective and questions we have offered to you. Be prepared to share your ideas with other participants upon arriving in Iqaluit!
Phase 2) On Expedition
During the expedition there will be many different activities each day including:
- Visits to various Arctic communities and interaction with community members
- Landings, hikes and Zodiac cruises
- Workshops and hands-on activities
- Participation in on-going scientific research with education team members
- Opportunities for personal reflection through group discussions, artistic expression, personal journal keeping and other means
- Whale, Polar Bear, Seabird, Walrus, Seal and Iceberg spotting
The Students on Ice Education Team will be eager to interact with, interpret, excite and mentor students throughout each day. Take advantage! A one-on-one conversation during meal time can be equally or more informative than attending a presentation or workshop on a topic of interest.
Over the course of the entire expedition students will create personal knowledge and develop as leaders. They will explore how youth are effective agents of change and how their efforts can contribute to positive societal action. They will consider opportunities to establish sustainable livelihoods and make ecologically-informed choices early in their lives. Students will also explore how the choices they make can have a ripple effect and the actions they take can make a difference.
Phase 3) Conclusion of Expedition
A youth forum will conclude the expedition's education program. This will be an opportunity for us to explore our ideas and address many of the important issues we have learned about facing our communities, the Arctic and the planet. It will be an opportunity to generate ideas, solutions and recommendations for action and change.
SOI will facilitate group discussions on ways to get involved in youth-based environmental, economical and social initiatives, scientific research, and other work upon returning home.
Phase 4) Post-Expedition
After our final celebration and fond farewells, participants will become members of a growing international community of past expedition participants. Students on Ice Alumni are global citizens that are known for their positive leadership, caring approach, developing creative solutions and making choices for a sustainable future.
The Polar Ambassador Pledge is a commitment that students and staff are invited to make to each other on all SOI expeditions. The promise is that participants make changes in the way they live and act in the world. Part of this means sharing the experience of visiting a polar region. The other critical part of this commitment is to reduce our impact on the planet by changing things at home, at school, in our communities and countries. This initiative was designed to be personally relevant for each student and be a bridge between the expedition experience and the actions students can take when they return home. The SOI Polar Ambassador Program provides a framework for goal setting and benchmarks the students to work to meet. One of these is for all students to give presentations about their new experiences and knowledge to their schools, sponsors and other community groups. This has proven to be a great way for the students to process their expedition thoughts, ideas and experiences.
SOI Alumni form an incredible network of people who have shared unique, awe-inspiring experiences in the polar regions. They are making a difference at all levels and in all sectors of society around the world.