Rollins Continues to Span the Globe - Adventures on the White Continent

March 29, 2010

As part of the President’s Internationalization Initiative (PII), a group of 10 Rollins faculty and staff, representing nine academic disciplines, traveled to Antarctica this past December, to spark their intellectual curiosities and further the College’s internationalization efforts.

The two-week Antarctic expedition was led by Associate Professor of Art Rachel Simmons. Simmons had previously traveled to the Antarctic in December 2008 as part of a McKean Grant she received from the College. The extraordinary encounters she experienced during her solo trip led Simmons think about the multitude of interdisciplinary learning opportunities she could develop with the help of her Rollins colleagues. 

As part of the interdisciplinary preparation for the trip, Simmons directed a 12-week series of academic seminars during which each member of the expedition researched an Antarctic issue related to their area of scholarship or teaching. 

 “The seminars touched on many diverse aspects of the ‘white continent’ such as a feminist critique of Ernest Shackleton’s legendary leadership, the geo-politics of the Antarctic Treaty System, the Antarctic ozone hole and climate change, and the art of the polar regions,” said Simmons.

Unlike ordinary travel experiences, the PII program challenges participants to develop deeper intellectual insights into the history, geography, ecological, social and political systems of the global locations they explore.  These encounters—and the interdisciplinary exchanges that take place—provide faculty with transformative opportunities to enhance their teaching in innovative ways as well as develop new scholarly interests and research.

“This Initiative allows Rollins faculty and staff to develop lasting intra-departmental relationships that make a positive difference in many campus activities from curriculum reform to faculty searches,” said Simmons said. When you have survived crossing the Drake Passage and experienced the splendors of the Antarctic landscape with your colleagues, normal day-to-day work activities become much more collaborative, cooperative and just plain enjoyable. It's the ultimate team-building experience.”

To learn more about the President’s Internationalization Initiative and the trip to Antarctica, please click here.

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