What was HASSEG?
The SCAR Humanities and Social Sciences Expert Group (HASSEG) aimed to bring together researchers in the humanities and social sciences with an interest in the Antarctic region. The group facilitated the exchange of news, publications and research ideas, held regular conferences and workshops, and organized research projects around different topics - the first was the Values Project - “Exploring Antarctic Values”.
“Values in Antarctica: Human Connections to a Continent”
HASSEG’s main focus during the period 2010-2014 was on:
- Cataloguing the range of human values associated with the southern polar continent, including both intrinsic values (such as symbolic and spiritual) and extrinsic values (such as economic and scientific), and
- Studying the ways in which these values may have an impact on the level and nature of human activity in Antarctica.
The group focused their work on these aspects as the balancing of Antarctic values influences a wide range of decisions. Some of these decisions are limited to a local impact, while others may affect entire global systems, primarily via their effects on climate, culture, and international policy. Thus, understanding the extent and nature of the values that human beings place on Antarctica has large-scale and very serious implications.
Although recognising that more work needed to be done in this regard, the group was able to lay a solid foundation upon which to build with future values-related research. The 2013 keystone publication pdf "Exploring Antarctic Values" (1.85 MB) provides a good overview of the issues the work covered.
While the values project continued to play an important role in their research, their recognition as a SCAR Expert Group at the 2014 SCAR Delegates Meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, offered an opportunity to broaden their research agenda and include a wider range of projects that addressed current issues (including climate change, governance, environmental management, human engagement with Antarctica) from a humanities and social sciences perspective.
Institutional History and Structure
HASSEG was formed as an Action Group under the umbrella of SCAR in 2010 by a group of international scholars, with the aim of fostering new approaches to Antarctic research grounded in the humanities and social sciences. In 2014, it became a SCAR Expert Group.
The core group of experts that formed the group in 2010 was expanded over time to ensure a wide geographical and disciplinary representation. This core group assumed the role of a steering group, providing the leadership and strategic direction for HASSEG and responsibility for reporting to SCAR. Leadership of the group was kept dynamic - Dr Daniela Liggett was co-chair from the group's inception and was joined as co-chair by Dr Gary Steel (2010-12), Dr Juan Francisco Salazar, (2012-14) and finally by Prof Elizabeth Leane (from early 2015).
In 2018, HASSEG joined with the History Expert Group to become the Standing Committee on the Humanities and Social Sciences (SC-HASS).
Terms of Reference for HASSEG were:
To facilitate exchange between researchers in the humanities and social sciences interested in the Antarctic region and build a community of Antarctic humanities scholars and social scientists;
To increase the transparency around Antarctic-related humanities and social sciences research;
To identify and progress group research projects (such as the pdf “Exploring Antarctic Values” (1.85 MB) project); and
To liaise with the SCAR Secretariat, Executive Committee and Delegates as well as other SCAR committees and research groups and provide advice and input where relevant and as requested.