Throughout my PhD I found that making contacts with colleagues also working the Polar Regions was extremely helpful. Some of the positives were practical: advice and help with logistics and access to field sites, discovering useful existing research or providing key cultural contexts to my findings. There was also a pastoral element to this as well, simply connecting with other social scientists and humanities scholars with similar interests provided a sense of community and validation that my work was interesting amidst the plethora of natural and physical sciences projects.
Hence it is great to see that some collaborative and supportive networks are being developed that not only help researchers connect, but also help research participants and the wider interested public to find out about our work. One such network is the Women In the Arctic and Antarctic . Dr Danita Burke , founder of the initiative explains:
“Access to traditional networking and information sharing opportunities, such as conferences and workshops, can be difficult for many people due to barriers such as geographic distances, costs, timing, and work and family commitments. There is a need for cross disciplinary networking and dialogue between researchers and representatives for the Arctic and Antarctic region. The Women in the Arctic and Antarctic initiative is a free avenue for networking and information sharing. It helps to bridge access gaps and act as a platform to highlight the multidisciplinary contributions of women polar in research and representation.”
One of the exciting developments in Svalbard is that although there has been a scattering of social science and humanities projects many years, social scientists are becoming more visible, collaborative and finding a collective voice. There is now a growing group of us involved in a fledgling ‘Svalbard Social Science Initiative‘. Our aim is to develop a network and platform for research collaboration and co-ordination, sharing findings and facilitating communication. We hope to officially launch this at the Svalbard Science Forum Conference later in 2019, but we are now live with a website!