This summer, Dr Ingrid A. Medby, Senior Lecturer in Political Geography at Oxford Brookes, took part in a two-week educational expedition with the Students on Ice (SOI) Foundation as an educator and social scientist. SOI is a charitable organisation that offers educational expeditions to the Polar regions, with a mandate “to educate the world’s youth about the importance of the Polar regions, support their continued growth and inspire and catalyse initiatives that contribute to global sustainability”.
This year, the expedition took 130 students to the Greenlandic and Canadian Arctic. The diverse group of youth came from 18 different countries, were between the ages of 14 and 24, and approximately 50% were Indigenous. In addition to Ingrid – who was there to offer some insight on Arctic geopolitics and identity – there was a range of expert scientists, educators, Elders, artists, musicians, historians, journalists, industry leaders and more joining the journey.
Ingrid offers her reflections from the expedition:
“I was invited by the Canada-UK Foundation to take part this year. It was the first time they offered to sponsor two UK academics plus two UK students taking part, and I was incredibly lucky to be one of them.
The journey started in Ottawa in late July, where we all got to know each other and the team – altogether more than 200 people! – before we set off for Greenland. In Kangerlussuaq we boarded our ship, the Ocean Endeavour, and spent the next two weeks sailing north along the West Greenlandic coast, across the Davis Strait, and into the Northwest Passage all the way to Resolute Bay.
In retrospect, I didn’t quite know what I was signing up for: Although I was prepared to provide workshops and teach, I could not have expected the friendships that formed and just how much I would learn myself too. Perhaps the most significant conversations were those that took place over dinner, walking on the land, and in the zodiac boats.
And what I was most impressed by was how our presence in Inuit Nunaat (Inuit homelands) and the importance of Indigenous knowledges were front and centre throughout the trip.
I come back with a lot of experiences and impressions that will no doubt inform my future academic practice and research. And most of all, I come back feeling really inspired by the youth that I got to know, many of whom will go on to become leaders and environmental advocates. I look forward to implementing some of what I have learned from the experience, from the land, and from all the people I met in my research and teaching.
SOI’s press release offers a lot more on this year’s Arctic expedition: https://studentsonice.com/global-youth-embark-on-high-arctic-expedition/
And there are plenty of video clips here: https://studentsonice.com/expedition/arctic-2019/follow-the-journey/videos/ [The one called “The Journey” is a good summary!]