Poles Apart

It doesn’t really feel like I’ve been back in the office long but I’m off again, north this time back to the Arctic islands of Svalbard and the charms of the northerly town of Longyearbyen. Svalbard will always hold a very special place in my heart, I’ve been coming here for over 10 years now and was lucky enough to live here for a few. However long it is between visits it always feels like home.

I’m here this time to teach the Arctic Glaciers and Landscapes course at the University Centre in Svalbard with my colleague and friend Lena Håkansson. It’s the kind of course I would love to take if I was still a student and not just because it centres around a week long fieldwork cruise. The course is relatively new, this will only be the second time we’ve taught it. The idea is that the students, rather then being taught in a traditional lecture-lead way, get an authentic research experience. The lectures are minimal and the focus is on specific techniques and transferable skills. The students collect their own data in the field and then process and present their findings. The approach can be challenge and takes a lot of careful planning and preparation but it’s always an amazing experience to be part of it. This year was no exception, with a group of highly motivated, interested students who were a pleasure to teach.

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