UD announces William S. Carlson International Polar Year events
In 1962, John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, signed the American Geographical Society’s Fliers’ and Explorers’ Globe, as President John F. Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, and other dignitaries looked on.
5:05 p.m., Jan. 17, 2008--As the globe turns, you see their names--the autographs of an elite group, the world's foremost explorers and aviators. There's the signature of Amelia Earhart, the famed aviatrix; Robert Peary and Roald Amundsen, first to reach the North and South Poles, respectively; Sir Edmund Hillary, the first to scale Mt. Everest; Neil Armstrong, the first to set foot on the moon. One legendary pioneer after another.

The American Geographical Society's Fliers' and Explorers' Globe has been signed by more than 75 of the planet's most-celebrated explorers, and now the historic globe is coming to the University of Delaware for signing, as one of the premier public events in a year-long series highlighting the fourth International Polar Year (IPY).

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Roselle Center for the Arts on the Newark campus, Lawson Brigham, deputy director of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, will pen his name on the globe. As a captain in the U.S. Coast Guard, Brigham commanded the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea on the first voyage to the polar limits of the global ocean, from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica to the North Pole. Brigham will be introduced by representatives of the American Geographical Society.


The historic globe-signing will kick off “The William S. Carlson International Polar Year Events,” a series of public lectures, receptions, research seminars, art exhibits, and film showings at UD, to increase public awareness of the world's polar regions. The series fittingly is named after Carlson, UD's president from 1946 to 1950, who was an active polar researcher himself.

UD, a recognized leader in polar research, has maintained a strong presence in cold-regions studies since the mid-1940s, when Carlson, a highly accomplished Arctic explorer, military strategist, and Earth scientist, became president of the institution.

Carlson led two expeditions to Greenland in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Later, as commanding officer of the U.S. Army Air Forces' Arctic, Desert, and Tropic Information Center during World War II, Colonel Carlson played an important role in developing several air transport routes through the Arctic that hastened defeat of the Axis Powers. He authored numerous scientific and popular publications, including the books Greenland Lies North (1941) and Lifelines Through the Arctic (1962), and was a founding member of the Arctic Institute of North America.

“The Carlson International Polar Year Events are designed to cultivate interest in Earth's polar regions throughout the University and beyond,” said Frederick “Fritz” Nelson, professor of geography, and director of the UD Permafrost Group. Nelson co-chairs the steering committee for the series with Lesa Griffiths, director of UD's Center for International Studies.

“Our goal is to offer intellectually stimulating public lectures, departmental seminars, and interdisciplinary activities that will raise consciousness on campus, and in the local and state communities, about the global importance of Antarctica and the Arctic,” Nelson noted.

The core of the series will consist of a group of public lectures, to be held throughout the spring and fall 2008 semesters, featuring several of the world's foremost polar authorities.

The first public lecture, “A New Arctic Ocean: Responding to Marine Access at the Top of the World,” will be presented by polar researcher and mariner Lawson Brigham, the 2008 signer of the Fliers' and Explorers' Globe, at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 14, at the Roselle Center for the Arts. Brigham will highlight what the receding sea ice means to trade, tourism, and resource use in the once-remote Arctic.

William S. Carlson was UD’s president from 1946 to 1950.
The AGS Fliers' and Explorers' Globe, which travels rarely, will be on display from February 13 through March 14 on the second floor of Morris Library on the UD campus. The library exhibit will also feature a large collection of antique polar maps, some dating back to the 18th century, and other polar artifacts.

Departmental and interdisciplinary research seminars also will be held throughout the year, and many of the University's institutions, including several of its research centers, will participate through exhibits, poetry and literature readings, films, and other events, according to Nelson.

The International Polar Year 2007-2008 is the fourth in a series of major international research efforts focused on Earth's high-latitude regions. Originating in the 1880s as an effort to incorporate scientific goals and personnel in voyages of polar exploration, the International Polar Year concept has evolved into a worldwide enterprise aimed at advancing science, social science, humanities, and education in and about Earth's cold environments.

“The William S. Carlson International Polar Year Events” are sponsored by the University of Delaware, in cooperation with the American Geographical Society of New York City.

Campus sponsors include the Office of the Provost, Center for International Studies, Research and Graduate Studies, Office of Public Relations, the UD Library, and UD's colleges -- Agriculture and Natural Resources; Arts and Sciences; Lerner College of Business and Economics; Engineering; Health Sciences; Human Services, Education and Public Policy; and Marine and Earth Studies.

The steering committee for the series includes Cathleen Geiger, associate professor of geography; Bernard Herman, chairperson of art history; George Irvine, program specialist, Center for International Studies and Professional and Continuing Studies; David Kirchman, professor of marine and Earth studies; Tom Sims, associate dean of agriculture and natural resources; Dana Veron, assistant professor of marine and Earth studies; and co-chairs Frederick Nelson, professor of geography, and Lesa Griffiths, director of the Center for International Studies.

For more information and to register for the first public events, visit UD's International Polar Year Web site at [www.udel.edu/research/polar].