This week I had the pleasure of attending the fourth Polar Educators International (PEI) Workshop, co-hosted by the Scott Polar Research Institute and Christ’s College, University of Cambridge.
PEI was founded in 2012 as a legacy of the Fourth International Polar Year. It serves the vital purpose of fostering dialogue between educators and researchers in order to promote knowledge and understanding of the Arctic and Antarctic regions amongst primary and secondary pupils, as well as the general community. Anyone interested in teaching or learning about the polar regions can become a member, whether educator, researcher or general supporter.
In Cambridge this year, PEI offered a fascinating programme of talks and activities on such varied topics as remote sensing, plastic pollution, the cultural history of the North Pole, Arctic indigenous peoples, and communication skills. Teachers, researchers and educational organisations also presented their own polar-related work, and we all enjoyed a special visit to the headquarters of the British Antarctic Survey.
It was a privilege to add to this programme a brief talk about my Model Arctic Council initiative. After introducing my two current MAC conferences, NORMAC and MAC Bilbao, I presented survey data showing that these MACs are meeting their educational objectives of raising awareness and understanding of the Arctic amongst youth, inspiring them to learn more about the region, and helping them build their skills in persuasion, negotiation and consensus building. The slides from my presentation are available for download from this website.
At the conference banquet in the beautiful 16th-century Christ’s College Hall, it was announced that the 5th PEI Workshop would take place in Iceland in 2021. I’m already looking forward to it, and to the chance to connect again with some of the outstanding polar educators and researchers whom I met in Cambridge.