The Erasmus+ mobility visit of a Junior Researcher from the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland, Marcin Dymet, took place between 22nd and 28th of November 2018. The location was the School of Humanities at the University of Dundee in Scotland.
During his visit, Marcin had a chance to meet students of the MLitt Science Fiction course conducted at the University of Dundee. Marcin consulted the students on a workshop, which he is planning to organize next year in Finland. The students had plenty of helpful advice regarding the workshop. They also shared with Marcin their motivations for taking the Science Fiction course and told him about their interests and life experiences. In addition, Marcin had an opportunity to participate in one of their classes. He learned there how Starship Troopers is a commentary on Nazism and other totalitarian systems.
Besides meeting the students, Marcin had the chance to meet scholars from the University of Dundee interested in Polar related research. He was welcomed to the city by Dr Keith Williams, convenor of the SF MLitt, who told him about his interests in the history of SF literature, also Arctic-related fiction. Dundee has an important connection with this, since the Arctic ‘framing narrative’ of Frankenstein, one of the Ur-texts of modern SF, is based on Mary Shelley’s experience of living in Dundee as a whaling port and shipyard for icebreakers. By coincidence, Dundee’s Being Human programme celebrating the bicentenary of the novel reached its climax during Marcin’s visit, allowing him to attend some of its key events. Moreover, Dr Williams introduced Marcin to the idea of establishing Arctic Studies at the University of Dundee, which is currently being discussed among some of its researchers. Dr Williams contacted Marcin with scholars interested in Arctic research, in order to establish connections for future collaborations between the University of Dundee and the University of Lapland.
On November 22, Prof. Elaine Shemilt gave a talk entitled “The Centre for Remote Environments”, in which she presented her artistic and environmental work on the island of South Georgia. Marcin had a chance to listen her talk and to learn about her activity. Matthew Jarron, the University’s museum curator, gave Marcin an exclusive guided tour around the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum, which contains exhibits from the Polar Regions, amongst others. Marcin had also a short meeting with Dr Simon Cook, a glaciologist who currently teaches on Arctic environments. During the meeting with Dr Anja Johansen from History, Marcin briefly presented the work and the structure of the Arctic Centre, and Dr Johansen shared her idea of establishing a multidisciplinary Arctic Studies programme, involving various units of the University of Dundee and utilising the history of Polar explorations visible in the city of Dundee. Before his departure to Glasgow Airport, Marcin met a final scholar from the University of Dundee – Dr Paul Harrison. Dr Harrison shared his experiences from work in the Arctic region, he also gave Marcin many good recommendations on how to organize and conduct an artistic workshop to ensure that it will be successful.
In addition to the Arctic-related encounters, Marcin had a chance to talk briefly with Dr Jonathan Mendel, who is a part of the research team of the Eyes Online Project run at the University of Dundee and led by Dr Megan O’Neill. The project focuses on cybersecurity in the UK, Finland, and Norway, a topic strongly related to Marcin’s current work. Dr Mendel also shared information about PhD positions available in a project which will focus on policing of cybercrime.
It is hoped that Marcin’s visit will serve as a catalyst for increased cooperation between scholars from the University of Dundee interested in Polar/Arctic research. The purpose of the visit was also to establish contact between the University of Dundee and the University of Lapland, which will hopefully result in projects created and conducted jointly by both institutions. Both universities could benefit greatly from such a partnership. The University of Lapland could bring to the table location experience in Arctic research and rich expertise in the field, while the University of Dundee could make specialists with multidisciplinary backgrounds available. In addition, Polar-related resources from the city could be incorporated into research. The first idea for cooperation between the universities is to communicate Arctic science to the wider academic community and public through visual forms, potentially a comic book, inspired by “Superhuman Futures” and “Frankenstein Returns” – SF comic books published recently by the University of Dundee.