SCAR Humanities and Social Sciences Expert Group

The Humanities and Social Sciences Expert Group SCAR Social Sciences Action Group[HASSEG] was formed as an Action Group under the umbrella of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) in 2010 by a group of international scholars with the aim of fostering new approaches to Antarctic research grounded in the humanities and social sciences.

The Expert Group has an international executive committee that provides leadership to the group and reports to SCAR. From 2010-2012 the Action group was co-chaired by Daniela Liggett and Gary Steel and from 2012 to 2014 by Daniela Liggett and Juan Francisco Salazar. From February 2015 the Expert Group will be co-chaired by Daniela Liggett and Elizabeth Leane.

Our main focus during the period 2010-2014 has been on:

(a)    Cataloguing the range of human values associated with the southern polar continent, including both intrinsic values (such as symbolic and spiritual) and extrinsic values (such as economic and scientific), and

(b)   Studying the ways in which these values may have an impact on the level and nature of human activity in Antarctica.

We have focused our work on these aspects as the balancing of Antarctic values influences a wide range of decisions. Some of these decisions will be limited to a local impact, while others may affect entire global systems, primarily via their effects on climate, culture, and international policy. Thus, understanding the extent and nature of the values that human beings place on Antarctica has large-scale and very serious implications.

Although recognising that more work needs to be done in this regard, we have been able to lay a solid foundation upon which to build with future values-related research.  The 2013 keystone publication “Exploring Antarctic Values” provides a good overview of the issues our work covered.

While the values project will continue to play an important role in our research, our recognition as a SCAR Expert Group at the 2014 SCAR Delegates Meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, offers an opportunity to broaden our research agenda and include a wider range of projects that address current issues (including climate change, governance, environmental management, human engagement with Antarctica) from a humanities and social sciences perspective.

New members with an interest in researching Antarctic humanities and social sciences topics are welcome in our group and are invited to share their ideas of suitable research projects.