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Education Program


Our journey to the Antarctic brings together an extraordinary team of Canadian and international students, educators, scientists, historians, artists, explorers, authors, leaders, innovators and polar experts. Together we will co-create a transformative educational experience that will change the way we perceive 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 Antarctic 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 many kinds of learning edges.  For some, this will be about trying new foods, experiencing 24-hour days or being far away from home.  For others, the edges will be about being in the southern hemisphere, 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 polar plants, animals and processes of climate change.  Still others will be moved by the personal journeys and stories of fellow travellers.

Subtle or profound, these will all be 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.


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.


Our education program is interdisciplinary in nature, bridging conventional disciplinary boundaries to offer our students a program that encompasses the myriad issues that pertain to the regions we visit.  To this end, our program places emphasis on our world as a global ecosystem, in which all natural and human created systems are interconnected.  As such, subjects such as arts; history; cultural studies; media and communications; social sciences; earth sciences; political economy; geopolitics; sustainable development and climatology are studied in conjunction with one another, giving our students an all-encompassing and unparalleled introduction to the Antarctic. Focus is also given to contemporary social, economic and political issues as they arise.

Several different learning formats are used on expedition depending on the topic being explored, our location, ice and weather conditions, the skills and experiences of the education team members, and the interests of the student participants. These learning formats include presentations, seminars, workshops and hands-on activities that will be ship, shore, and Zodiac-based in setting.

While lectures and seminars make up an integral part of our education program, rich learning opportunities also occur on expedition outside of the ‘formal program.’  An experience shared on a hike, a solo-sit on a tabular iceberg or time shared on the ship’s deck observing wildlife and our natural surroundings, all serve as potential ‘transformative moments’.  By embracing an approach that we (adults and students alike) are all ‘learners’ together on this expedition is an important element of SOI’s unique program experience.


Keen to take advantage of our unique make-up of high school and university participants on this winter’s expedition, we have created the Peer-to-Peer Program that will support student learning by connecting high school participants with university student mentors in smaller educational circles. The purpose of the Program is to provide students with the opportunity to reflect, question, share and process the experiences they live each day on the journey. Working with university student facilitators, student participants consider different topics and themes and work through learning activities that guide their reflection. Peer facilitators consult with students to determine how they should use their time together. They also help students think deeply about daily experiences, explore the impact of their experiences on individual consciousness, and translate these into potential positive outcomes in their respective home communities and lives.


We look forward to working with each of you on this winter’s expedition and to co-creating a powerful learning experience in which we can each critically explore ideas and develop deeper and more comprehensive perspectives on the Antarctic of today as well as its past and its future.



Our expedition is only the beginning of the SOI experience and 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 worldwide.

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.

Students on Ice is proudly supported by bv02.

This website was made possible by a generous contribution from the Leacross Foundation.