On the Value of Informal Antarctic Conferences

The two conferences previously mentioned (the SouthPole-sium v3 and the meeting of the Shackleton Appreciation Society) with their hopefully biennial convocations each have a social and educational value far in excess of their modest cost. Although neither—relatively informal as they are—will add much luster to your academic portfolio, you may well learn as much from the brief presentations by passionate aficionados, as you might from more formal, academically structured symposia.

Some of them are presented by well-known authorities in the field. This year’s SouthPole-sium in Oslo included (among many others) talks on:
• “Thomas Bagshawe: An Unsung, Forgotten Hero” by Bob Burton, a recounting one of the most minimally funded, carelessly planned, yet most successful on record.
• “Shackleton’s Ghostwriter” a look at the relationship between the explorer and Edward Saunders, juxtaposing the standards of authorship for popular press with those of scientific journals, presented by Art Gertel.
• Peggy Nelson’s take on publishing polar stories from the past in modern online media
• Brad Borkan and David Hirzel launching their book “When Your Life Depends on It

At the Shackleton Appreciation Society’s meeting in Dundee a week later:
• “Ernest Shackleton—the Man and the Myths” and “Tom Crean—Unsung Hero of Antarctic Exploration” from renowned author Michael Smith
• “Shackleton’s Boat Journey” from Seb Coulthard who actually repeated it in 2013 in the 22’ Caird replica Alexandra Shackleton
Stephen Scott-Fawcett (organizer of this event, president of the James Caird Society, and editor of the estimable JCS Journal) on “The Ross Sea Party—Debacle or Miracle”
• A second introduction of our book When Your Life Depends on It, entitled “Shackleton’s Genius—Reframing the Image of Success, a Critical Skill for the 21st Century”

These are just some of the highlights. There were more talks given than we have the space to list, so we suggest you keep your eyes open for the (we dearly hope) next such convocations two years hence.

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