sunset banner3

Science Menu

HASS Antarctic Literature ELeane webThe humanities and social sciences study the way humans make meaning of and relate to themselves and the world. In Antarctica, the only continent without an indigenous population or permanent human settlement, the humanities and social sciences address a series of important questions. What kinds of narratives and images do we create to make ourselves at home in a place with such a short human history, and how do these then affect our ongoing interactions with the region? How do we govern it? Who should be able to visit it, and under what conditions? How do people behave in such an isolated and hostile environment? How can we meet the many challenges facing us in our future interactions with the region?

Research by the humanities and social sciences community is becoming increasingly important within Antarctic research and has been part of the SCAR landscape for well over a decade. In 2005, a group looking at the history of the institutionalisation of Antarctic research held the first of its annual meetings.  But it wasn't until the International Polar Year 2007-08, which included “human dimensions” as a major theme, that social sciences began to emerge within the Antarctic community.  A social sciences group was established in 2010 and became the Humanities and Social Sciences Expert Group (HASSEG) in 2014.  The History Group was granted expert group status in 2011. 

From 2013, the two groups held joint meetings, organising workshops and conference sessions at SCAR's Open Science Conferences (OSCs), and holding joint conferences in the intervening years (see the Humanities and Social Sciences Meetings page for full details). In 2018, the two groups officially merged. Recognising the increasing importance of the humanities and social sciences community within Antarctic research, the SCAR Delegates established the Standing Committee on Humanities and Social Sciences (SC-HASS) in June 2018.

See SC-HASS travel grants to attend 2020 SCAR OSC.

Humanities and Social Sciences Action Groups

SC-HASS is in the process of setting up Action Groups to address specific issues.

AGIVA Project graphicAction Group on Intrinsic Value in Antarctica (AGIVA)

This Action Group seeks to develop a broad cross-cultural understanding of the intrinsic value of Antarctica in order that the intention of the Madrid Protocol to provide protection to this value can be better understood.

EN AQ Project AVdP icicleAction Group on Meeting and Managing Antarctic Environments (EN-AQ)

This Action Group aims to produce a methodological foundation that can guide future research in the role of human values in Antarctic environmental policy-making.


PoLSciNex AVdP blue bergAction Group on Resilience and the Future of Science-based Decision-making for Antarctica (Action Group on PoLSciNex)

This Action Group aims to analyze the policy-law-science nexus within the current Antarctic governance framework and to articulate the practical significance of understanding such a nexus, so as to inform stakeholders how science-based decision making relevant to Antarctica is actually operationalized.



SC-HASS Travel Grants to attend the 2020 SCAR OSC

The Standing Committee on the Humanities and Social Sciences (SC-HASS) is pleased to announce an opportunity for early-career researchers (ECRs) to apply for grants to attend the SCAR2020. The grants will be a maximum of $1,000 USD to cover travel and accommodation.  In addition, the SCAR OSC registration costs for successful applicants will be covered by SC-HASS.

Please send your application to the SC-HASS chief officers (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) with the following information:

  • Description of your ECR status.
  • Estimated travel costs.
  • An identification of other sources of funding that will be supporting your travel to SCAR2020.
  • Your submitted abstract that you will present on SC-HASS topics.

Applications will be accepted until 9 March 2020 and will be reviewed by SC-HASS Steering Committee.  Awards made will be conditional on abstract acceptance.

We look forward to receiving your applications. 

[Please note that an ECR is defined as researchers up to 10 years of research since completing their PhD, and postgraduate students with research results to present.]

Travel Bursaries for SCAR 2020 from PoLSciNex Group

Grants to support travel for early-career scholars (ECS) planning to attend the SCAR 2020 Open Science Conference are offered by the Action Group on PoLSciNex to those who make a research presentation at Session 44 on “Connecting legal and policy needs with Antarctic research”.

The grants will be up to $1000 USD per person for up to three ECS presenters, including Ph.D students, to assist with their travel and registration costs.

To apply, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the following information:
(1) A description and/or evidence of your ECS or student status;
(2) Your submitted abstract as evidence that you will present in Session 44; and
(3) Estimated required travel and registration fees to attend the OSC

Applications will be accepted until 9 March 2020, and will then be reviewed by the Co-leads of PoLSciNex AG and awards made conditional on abstract acceptance.