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Don’t forget the socks!

Giuliana Panieri, Professor in Geology at the University of Tromsø, prepares to set sail for the Arctic– the latest step in an interdisciplinary, co-creative project

A couple of minutes ago, I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom packing an insane amount of wool socks and sweaters, while mentally going through everything I need to bring with me for these upcoming 13 days. This is one of the last steps on my to-do list before I board the RV Kronprins Haakon, and head off to the Arctic Ocean. While my mind was spinning and twirling around all the things I needed to bring, I came to a sudden halt… and then it hit. Never in my life would I have expected to be sitting here about to begin this thrilling journey.

But in fact, this journey actually started about a year ago, when I realised the potential that lay in moving away from the traditional academic culture of siloed disciplines and fields of study. I also wanted more people to know about the Arctic Ocean. I wanted more people to learn, to see, to feel the things that I experience and learn when I am on board. And so what I did was to use the AKMA project (Advancing Knowledge of Methane in the Arctic) as a platform to bring about interdisciplinary collaboration. The approach we are taking will encourage discussion on the ocean and climate change between different stakeholders, as well as spreading awareness about the Arctic environment and the potential impact of climate change on the biological communities that live there. All of this required careful thought about the different disciplines and types of stakeholders who would need to be represented in order for this co-creative project to succeed.

And so, here I am. Laptop on my lap, sitting on my bedroom floor like a teenager, trying to make sense of what is to happen tomorrow. Tomorrow, a new door opens. Tomorrow, AKMA will give life to interdisciplinary communication, and we will start to break down those confining walls that have segregated disciplines for so long. Whoever said that we are limited to brainstorming, working, and cooperating with the people who had been given the same masters degree as you, well, be ready to be proven wrong. Who would have thought that an environmental physiotherapist, geoscientists, gender researchers, an illustrator, a musician, a lawyer, a philosopher, school teachers, international students, and climate scientists, a pack of professionals from completely different working sectors, would swarm the deck of an icebreaker in the Arctic to gather data and then work together to spread the word back home? The astonishing potential of this collaboration is truly remarkable!

Well… my wool socks are calling, reminding me that if I don’t pack enough my toes will freeze…

Follow @AKMAproject on Twitter for regular updates from the expedition!

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