Feb 042009
Authors: Phoenix MourningStar

Last semester I had the pleasure of writing about a series of short trips, travels and people I met overseas. Being back on campus has left me feeling like I’m suffering from withdrawals.

So this term, I’ll be mixing things up with ideas, plans and opportunities that I’ve come across for us students to insert some adventure into our academic schedules.

This week’s highlight is on a trip I’ll be taking to Antarctica later this semester.

In the past few years a company called 2041 takes a bunch of students to Antarctica for a two-week expedition. 2041 was founded by polar explorer, environmental leader and public speaker Robert Swan, OBE — the first person in history to walk to both the North and South poles.

Swan has dedicated his life to the preservation of Antarctica by the promotion of recycling, renewable energy and sustainability to work against the effects of climate change.

2041 is named after the year in which the review of the Environmental Protocol of the Antarctic Treaty. The company is devoted to working toward the protection of this treaty, in the hopes that there is never a need to exploit the last great continent on Earth for minerals and fossil fuel.

Their mission is to build on this by informing, engaging and inspiring the next generation of leaders to take responsibility, to be sustainable and to know that now is the time for action in policy development and business generation.

This year, 2041 has partnered with British Petroleum to host the student expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula led by the noted polar explorer.

Featuring activities and discussions exploring the big issues facing the planet today, they hope the ideas and insights exchanged on the expedition will help shape the lives and choices of the future leaders long after their trip to Antarctica has ended.

In addition to Swan and his team of polar experts — including experts on climate change and energy, a naturalist and a pair of activity facilitators — Vivienne Cox, the chief executive of BP Alternative Energy, will be joining the trip.

According to 2041’s home page, the journey will begin in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world on the shores of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina.

Before boarding the expedition vessel, “MV Ioffe,” the team will spend two days preparing for the adventure and meeting fellow expedition members in the Hotel del Glaciar.

Once introductions and preparations are completed, the participants will board their ship and commence on a 48-hour journey south via the Drake Passage, before approaching Antarctica near the South Shetland Islands.

Over the following days, the crew will work closely with Swan and his experienced exhibition leaders, visiting locations along the Antarctic Peninsula and exploring the continent by foot possibly two or three times a day. Expedition participants are also be invited to share their knowledge and enter into discussion and debate through a sequence of stimulating workshops and exercises onboard the expedition vessel.

The expedition is designed to be a catalyst for subsequent activity. On return, each participant is encouraged to use the skills, knowledge and the alliances they have formed to organize events and learning experiences that will hopefully encourage their fellow students or members of their communities to take action to address the major issues facing our planet.

More information on the Antarctica Expedition for students can be found by searching “BP Antarctica Expedition” on the Internet.

This year’s 2009 expedition participants have been selected but the application process opens near the middle of the summer each year. With nearly 2,000 applicants for the three-stage selection process for the 50 positions, it’s never too early to start preparing for this opportunity.

Phoenix Mourning-Star is an environmental health graduate student. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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