Programs Overview

Educational Philosophy

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.


Educational Approach

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 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 student based on the life experiences that he/she brings with them to the expedition. Furthermore, we recognize (and embrace) that expeditions have all kinds of learning edges. For some they will be about new food, 24-hour days or being away from home. For others the edges will be about being in the southern hemisphere or 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 travelers.

Subtle or profound, these will all be totally 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.

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 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.

Educational Format

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.

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’. 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.

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 more comprehensive perspectives on the polar regions of today.

Pre-Expedition Education Program

Units and exercises for both the Antarctic and Arctic are suggested pre-expedition learning activities for students participating in an educational expedition with Students on Ice. These activities offer students a general knowledge of either the Antarctic or the Arctic, thereby helping them to make the most of their educational expedition. Please note that these exercises are not mandatory.

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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