Education Program

Our journeys bring together extraordinary teams of international students, educators, scientists, historians, artists, explorers, authors, elders, leaders, innovators and polar experts. Together we 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. 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 polar regions 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 participant and and embrace that expeditions have many different learning edges. For some they will be about new food, 24-hour days or being away from home. For others the edges will be cultural, interacting with people from other parts of the world, people with different passions. And for others key learning takes place upon 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 are all valid outcomes of SOI’s expeditions. By challenging and supporting students to step out of the “comfortable middle” to the edges of what they know, the SOI learning experience creates the richest opportunities for learning, big or small.

Educational Program Goal

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 participants. We want participating youth 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 act and which decisions they make about future engagement as global citizens.

In participating in a SOI Expedition, students connect to the natural world, develop new understanding and respect for the planet, explore solutions to our most pressing challenges, and inspire each other to take positive action.

Educational Format

Our education program is interdisciplinary in nature, bridging conventional disciplinary boundaries to offer our students a program that encompasses the often complex issues that pertain to the Polar regions. 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 Polar Regions.

Several 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 on the ship, ashore, or in a Zodiac.

SOI also incorporates small group discussions and other reflection opportunities into our days through Pod Teams. Pod Teams support student learning by connecting youth participants with peers and mentors in smaller educational circles. The purpose of the Pods is to give students an opportunity to reflect, question, share and process the experiences they live each day on the journey. Working with skilled facilitators, student participants consider different topics, themes, leading questions and work through learning activities that guide their reflection. Pod facilitators consult with students to determine how they should use their time together. They also help students think deeply about daily experiences, explore experience impact on individual consciousness, and translate these into potential positive outcomes in their respective home communities and lives. The Program offers students a framework through which they can create personal knowledge.

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 deck observing wildlife and our natural surroundings, all serve as potential ‘transformative moments’. 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.

Education Pillars



Sustainability is a necessity that should inform our decisions. By making sustainable choices and taking action, we can arrive at the best possible outcomes for the planet, humans and other living things, now and in the future.


The Polar Regions are places of special importance to the planet, and in these regions we can see change happening rapidly. Global climate change is happening in the context of complex cultural, governance, economic, and ecological changes. Our capacity to choose, mitigate, and adapt to particular changes will inform our future collective well being.

Creativity and Innovation

Creativity and innovation means thinking about new ideas and doing things differently. These ideas are important across all sectors of society including the arts, sciences and the transition to new ‘green’ economies. Educating youth so that they can bring informed perspectives to these sectors ensures we will see effective solutions to local and global issues.

Indigenous Ways of Knowing

Indigenous ways of knowing remain profound and relevant. Despite modern influences and conveniences, indigenous peoples in the Arctic (and elsewhere) have retained their languages, core knowledge, and beliefs. Indigenous knowledge contributes to the advancement of a sustainable Arctic and a sustainable planet.

Youth Engagement

Authentic engagement means involving youth with today’s issues, including welcoming their imaginativeness to the conversations, inviting them to help to find solutions, and inspiring them to take on community leadership and decision-making roles. The world needs the creativity and vision of youth to help shape our future and to truly create positive change.

Meet our Educators

A global team of scientists, elders, artists, musicians, historians, and industry leaders who help to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Polar Regions through cross-disciplinary learning.

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Apply for scholarships

The SOI Foundation provides scholarships for each Arctic and Antarctic Expedition. Check out whether there is a scholarship for you!

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Upcoming Expeditions

SOI expeditions are life-changing journeys to the Polar Regions to become educated, inspired and empowered young leaders. Learn more and apply!

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Students on Ice is proudly supported by bv02.

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

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