Public Lecture – From Nansen to the Polar Academy

This is an invitation to the Polar Academy event at St Andrews on the 23rd of January 2020. There will be a talk entitled “From Nansen to the Polar Academy – the Past, Present and Future of Greenland Exploration from Fife” led by Adrian Finch and members of his research group. We will talk about some of the exploration that has taken place from Fife over the nearly 100 years since the polar explorer Fridjtof Nansen was rector of the University. We will also look forwards to the Greenland expedition to be led by the Polar Academy to Greenland with the pupils of the Bell Baxter High School in Cupar. There will be some rock and mineral samples from Greenland on display and also an opportunity to talk to some of the staff and students who have worked in Greenland from the University.

Polar Academy Talk fliers 23 Jan 2020

We all have a Land of Beyond to seek in our life… Rooted deep in the nature of every one of us is the spirit of adventure, the call of the wild” – Fridtjof Nansen on accepting the post of Rector of the University of St Andrews.


  • Professor Adrian Finch, School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of St Andrews.
  • St Andrews Students (Curtis Rooks and Lucy Mathieson) who have visited Greenland in expeditions over the last 10 years.
  • Craig Mathieson, of The Polar Academy (


Thursday 23rd January 2020 at 7.15 pm in the Irvine Lecture Theatre, Irvine Building, North Street, St Andrews. The talks will last approximately one hour, followed by refreshments and an opportunity to talk to those who have worked in Greenland. We will also display some of the unique rocks and minerals found in Greenland, some of which have unusual and surprising properties.

Who should come?

Anyone with an interest in the outdoors, the Arctic and what it can teach us. It is also an opportunity to find out work about The Polar Academy, the University and how geological research in Arctic environments is allowing us to address the challenges of green technologies.

The ancient whaling tradition in the East of Scotland meant that explorers such as Shackleton looked to our region for expertise and inspiration. Fridtjof Nansen was the first person to cross the Greenland Ice Cap and he was Rector of St Andrews University in 1926. In his inaugural speech, he told the people of Fife that “We all have a Land of Beyond to seek in our life… Rooted deep in the nature of every one of us is the spirit of adventure, the call of the wild”. His challenge to Fife was taken up by future generations. The University established a long tradition of Arctic Exploration. Expeditions to Greenland took place in the 1930s and 1950s and members of the University worked for the Greenland Geological Survey to map some of the remotest parts of our Planet. This continues to the present day – Greenland is an important natural laboratory for geological studies, without soil to obscure the rocks and with glaciers carving three-dimensional slices through geological structures. Greenland expeditions have most recently been funded by the EU scientific consortium HiTech AlkCarb (which uses the rocks of Greenland to understand how to explore for the rare metals found in mobile phones) and the Mining Institute of Scotland Trust, which supports Greenland expeditions to allow Scottish graduates to hone their exploration skills. Those who have taken part in the expeditions have been transformed and enhanced by their experience. The sessions will end with informal question and answer sessions with all the participants and a display of some of the rare minerals found in Greenland.

The talk will be sponsored by the HiTech AlkCarb consortium, which has supported some of the Greenland research that will be highlighted in the event.

The Polar Academy is a charity and donations can be made via Justgiving.

HiTech AlkCarb Logo

%d bloggers like this: