Report on the First Meeting on an international Antarctic Institute

Hobart Tasmania, November 2004

Dr Edith Fanta
SCAR representative

The meeting was convened by Sir Guy Green, and took place at Elizabeth Pier Congress Centre, from 6 to 7 November 2004. Daryl Le Grew, vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Tasmania co-chaired some of the sessions.

It congregated 20 participants from different institutions or organizations, and followed the agenda, that was formally adopted at the beginning of the meeting.

Firstly there was a presentation by each one of the participants on their institutions, programs, or experiences in Antarctic Education. At that occasion, I gave a 15 minutes Power Point presentation on SCAR's organisation, objectives, participation at the International Polar Year, and how I envisage the participation of SCAR in the International Antarctic Institute activities. I stressed one of SCAR's aims to stimulate young scientists to do Antarctic research, and to increase its visibility and outreach to the public and society in general.

The document on the ideas about establishing an International Antarctic Institute was thoroughly discussed after the presentations, in order to collect ideas for a document that should be produced by the meeting. The most important points were: how to harmonise the requirements for graduate and undergraduate courses certificates for students coming from different systems that are in course in different countries; the importance of work in the field; fees or other payments; secretariat and staff, initial requirements for institutions that want to join the Institute, among others.

The general idea is to have a consortium of Institutions, a centralized secretariat and coordinated lectures and field experience in all possible disciplines that can be related to activities in the Antarctic.

The University of Tasmania has offered a pro tempore Secretariat and the necessary funds until representatives from the different institutions come together and decide on this matter.

This was a short but much focused meeting with a concrete outcome. The document that was produced (Annex 1) shall be circulated to interested parties, and the idea is to get the involvement of several institutions, in order to take the occasion of the international Polar Year and the preparatory years for this great event, to maximise activities. A Proposal for participation at IPY will be sent to the joint committee in December 2004.

SCAR has the possibility to contact all countries that have scientific activities in the Antarctic region. From my point of view SCAR can help to spread the idea of an international Antarctic institute among Members, and ask members to open possibilities for the presence of students in their Antarctic vessels or stations.

Annex 1

Resolutions of a meeting to consider the establishment of an International Antarctic Institute

Held at Hobart, Tasmania on 6 and 7 November 2004

  1. This meeting endorses in principle the proposal that an International Antarctic Institute ('the Institute') be established.
  2. The Institute:
    1. Shall comprise a consortium of participating institutions ('the participating institutions');
    2. Shall be governed by a council comprising a person appointed by each Participating Institution.
  3. It is envisaged that the Institute would be multi-campus and multi-disciplinary and would:
    1. Develop undergraduate and/or postgraduate courses and associated activities and provide joint supervision of student projects;
    2. Be a vehicle to draw upon the strengths of each Participating Institution;
    3. Facilitate student and faculty exchange.
  4. The offer by the University of Tasmania to establish and resource an interim Secretariat to provide administrative support for the establishment of the Institute is accepted.
  5. The offer by the University of Tasmania to establish and resource a secretariat for the operation of the Institute for an initial period following its establishment be accepted.
  6. As soon as practicable, each participating Institution shall provide the interim Secretariat with the name and contact details of a representative.
  7. Following consultation with the participating institutions, the interim secretariat shall generate detailed proposals and business plans for the structure and operation of the Institute for consideration and ratification by the appropriate institutional bodies.
  8. That the interim secretariat be authorised to inform the International Polar Year (IPY) Committee of the proposal to establish an international Antarctic institute and to register a Statement of Intent in anticipation of the establishment of the Institute.