Tuesday 5th April 2022, 6.00pm - Speakers' details are shown below

Icy Humanities: A Collaborative Symposium

Venue: Co-hosted with Pardee Center, Boston University

Join us for a virtual event of roundtable discussions with Arctic humanists and glaciologists. This event represents a collaboration of Boston University’s Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, the University of Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute, the International Glaciological Society’s Symposium on Ice in a Sustainable Society (ISS), and the University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences.

Session 1: Icy Humanities | 1:00 – 2:00 pm ET
Ice is becoming recognized as a form of global cultural heritage, celebrated and mourned in equal measure by diverse societies around the world. With journalists and artists working often in collaboration with glaciologists reporting on the melting cryosphere, ice is integral to the visual and aesthetic language of global imaginaries. Speakers will draw on the growing range of approaches across the environmental humanities to articulate the subtle ways in which alpine and Arctic societies depend on ice for their livelihoods and the very infrastructure or fabric of global environments. To that end, it is both necessary to challenge previous ways of envisaging ice that have been reductionist, oversimplifying its forms, properties, and wider significance. What are the humanities showing us about the relationship of our frozen states to societies across their many diverse cultural, physical, and ecological settings? How might humanities scholars and glaciologists work together to share and inform their perspectives, insight, and experience of the icy world?


Prof. Mia Bennett, Geography, University of Washington
Prof. Mark Carey, History & Environmental Studies, University of Oregon; Director, Environmental Studies Program
Siobhan Mcdonald, Artist
Zachary Provant, PhD student, Environmental Studies, University of Oregon

SESSION 2: Glaciology and Society | 2:00 – 3:00 pm ET
How might we define glaciology’s very special responsibilities to society? The fate of icy regions is more precarious today than ever in living memory. The unprecedented acceleration of glacial retreat and melting means that the discipline of glaciology has acquired a special status as expert spokespeople for ice. And yet, arguably, the challenge in discussing glaciologists’ social responsibility is that the significance of their subject is unbounded — peoples on every continent with ecologies defined by their proximity to present and past ice formations, whether glaciers, ice sheets, permafrost, or sea ice. To explore the obligations and limits of professional responsibility is also to ask in what ways should glaciologists be active in caring for glaciers: through measuring and assessing mass balance; by widening access to glaciology across the fault lines of gender, class, and ethnicity; by participating in the IPCC assessment process; by focusing on comparative studies of the vulnerability of societies downstream of the runoff; by developing techniques for repairing fissures or breakages in glaciers; and by collaborating with lawyers and diplomats to create new governance structures fit for active climate interventions such as “refreezing the Arctic.” If like the earth sciences as a whole, glaciology has a long association with debates about moral responsibility, the question we invite glaciologists to consider is less one of where and how to begin, but rather to share in reflecting on which social needs and hazards to be allied with.


Rebecca Dell, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
Prof. Sérgio H. Faria, Ikerbasque Research Professor, Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3)
Prof. Mark Jackson, Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol
Sarah Tingey, PhD student, Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol