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SCAR XXXI IP15: Social Science Action Group: Values in Antarctica Popular

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SCAR XXXI IP15: Social Science Action Group: Values in Antarctica
XXXI SCAR Delegates Meeting
9-11 August 2010, Buenos Aires, Argentina

SCAR XXXI IP15: Social Science Action Group: Values in Antarctica

Information Paper 15
Agenda Item: 10.2
Posted/Revised: May 1
Person Responsible: Sparrow

Executive Summary

Title: Activities of the Social Science Action Group (Values in Antarctica)

Authors: Gary Steel and Daniela Liggett


The International Polar Year has increased people's awareness of the polar regions and stimulated high-quality scientific cooperation between participants from more than 60 countries.  Media coverage has brought information about the Southern Continent to millions of people around the world and has given them cause to weigh multiple values against one another when considering the overall worth of humanity’s endeavours in Antarctica.  The balancing of these values may influence a wide range of decisions.  Some of these decisions will, collectively, affect entire global systems, primarily via their impacts on climate, natural resources, 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.  It was this concern that gave rise to the recognition that an action group was needed to study and report on those values.


A steering group was formed in January, 2010.  The key outcomes of two on-line meetings are:

  • Discussion of substantive issues about the meaning of value.
  • Arrangement for a panel discussion to be held at the IPY science conference in Oslo, 2010, to attract the interest and opinions of scientists not normally associated with SCAR.
  • A decision to expand the geographic and disciplinary diversity of the steering group .

Recommendations/Actions and Justification

This Information Paper is to serve only as a brief, interim report on the early activities of the Social Science Action Group.  No request is being made of the delegates other than to continue their support for this Action Group.

Expected Benefits/Outcomes

The benefits expected to arise from the work of the Social Science Action Group include:

  • increased knowledge about some of the main influences on human decision-making regarding polar issues;
  • development of a list of recommendations to be considered by those responsible for major, Antarctic-related decisions;
  • compilation of a list of social scientists and humanities researchers involved in polar research, with the aim of initiating and strengthening collaborative networks.


The formation of partnerships with other SCAR Action Groups (History, CBET) as well as non-SCAR polar social science institutions and agencies is currently being explored.  It is hoped that by establishing these ties, a greater breadth of perspectives and knowledge can be included.

Budget Implications

$4,000 a year for meeting costs.