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Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute lecture series

Lectures on Polar matters.

Lectures are usually held in the lecture theatre at the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Lectures are free to members, non-members are very welcome.

There is no need to pre-book tickets, unless stated so in the lecture description.

For details of how to join the Friends please see the link to the left (under Friends of SPRI).

Please check details below, some lectures may be at different times, locations or be charged at a different rate.

View the archive of previous seminars.

# Saturday 17th March 2018, 4.30pm - Michael Smith
doors open at 4pm
Ireland’s Antarctic Explorers
Venue: SPRI Lecture Theatre, Lensfield Road

Ireland stands at the centre of the 100 year saga of Antarctic exploration. From the early 19th century discovery of Antarctica to the Heroic Age of the 20th century, Irishmen played a major role in almost every noteworthy episode of Antarctic exploration. These included the enigmatic Edward Bransfield to the pioneering Francis Crozier and to 20th figures like Tom Crean and Ernest Shackleton. But lesser known Irishman, Patrick Keohane, Robert Forde and the McCarthy brothers have incredible stories to tell. Michael Smith, the only writer to recount Ireland’s significant role in Antarctic exploration, commemorates St Patrick’s Day by recalling some fascinating and unfamiliar stories about the unique Irish link to Antarctica.

Michael Smith has written nine books on the history of Polar exploration, including biographies of Sir Ernest Shackleton, Tom Crean, Francis Crozier, Laurence Oates and Sir James Wordie. He has appeared in TV and radio documentaries and lectured at many prestigious venues, including: The Queen’s Gallery Buckingham Palace, Royal Geographical Society, National Maritime Museum, National Museum of Ireland, Princess Grace Memorial Library Monaco, Queen’s University Belfast, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and Scott Polar Research Institute Cambridge. Michael is a former award-winning journalist with The Guardian and The Observer.

# Wednesday 11th April 2018, 6.00pm - Dr. Ursula Rack
Doors open 5.30pm
Cold cases in Antarctic history
Venue: SPRI Lecture Theatre, Lensfield Road

Some events of the Heroic era are not well known or almost forgotten. This presentation will introduce you to the second German expedition in 1911 – 1912 and the conflict between an Austrian Antarctic explorer and Ernest Shackleton.
The second German expedition started with great hopes and motivation but the course of this endeavour ended in a disaster. Wilhelm Filchner, the expedition leader, was confronted with a strong opposition on board and several events brought the expedition on the brink of a total collapse. One member on that expedition, Felix König, wanted to continue this expedition where it ended and came in conflict with Ernest Shackleton because both events should happen at the same spot at the same time in the Weddell Sea. World War One broke out but Shackleton could proceed with his Endurance expedition. König ended up in a prison camp in Siberia and could escape in June 1918 but saw the Antarctic never again.

Ursula is a researcher for Polar history at Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury. She conducted her doctoral research on the social history of polar expeditions at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, and the University of Vienna and was awarded a PhD in 2009. Her research interests are social and environmental history based on personal accounts such as diaries and correspondence. She is the recipient of a COMNAP fellowship for the research project “Reconstructing historic Antarctic climate data from logbooks and diaries of the Heroic era” in 2012/13. Following her expertise, Ursula was involved in the Deep South National Science Challenge: ACRE Antarctica Data Rescue until September 2017. Ursula has been awarded the New Zealand Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship 2018 for her research project: “Frozen History: researching, collecting and communicating Antarctic History.”