This year I was in the privileged position to deliver 4 lectures in Antarctic History for the ANTA 102 lectures series. Because of the 4th lecture I could go into more detail in social history and history of science. The best opportunity was, however, that I could present the political context to the expeditions which were undertaken from the 1920s on. This part of Polar History has still lots to offer in terms of research. My focus is often the not so well known expeditions during the Heroic Era (e.g.: German, Swedish, Scottish, French expeditions). The political and economic changes after World War One and World War Two brought new challenges to Antarctic research. In the 1950s a new issue appeared: space travel. Antarctic research and space research competed in gathering funding and the big organisations like NASA were developing. Climate Change brought the Antarctic (and Arctic) into focus again and now the Antarctic is often used as a place for field training and to test material for outer space events.
Last Tuesday, 2 May, I was invited by Hannah Ewingh (the science teacher) to give a lecture about “Adaptation to extreme environments”. The students (16-17 years old) have to work on a project with the same title. I discussed with them the term “adaptation” and what an extreme environment is. The items (jackets, boots, etc.) I had with me again were a great help to show them how we adapt today to the Antarctic conditions when we are down in the ice. I has slides prepared what helps to keep the flow in the presentation but I integrated the students as well. 17 years working as teacher is then in the blood – so it was really nice to work as teacher again – at least for two hours. I don’t miss the administration involved in the school machinery but I like the work with the young people. But it is always easier to come from outside than being their teacher – it is easier to do it that way as I did last Tuesday.
Friday, 28th April 2017 at 2pm, I had a presentation at the St. Andrew’s College in Christchurch about living and working in the Antarctic today and the PCAS program. Over 60 people were in the audience. The college has a wonderful heritage facility – the right ambience for a historian. Interesting questions were discussed at the end of the talk.
After the presentation we had afternoon tea. Some people told me about family members involved in former Antarctic events back in the 1950s to 80s. There were some amazing stories about the clothing at this time and how different it was back in these times.
It was another successful public engagement.