Madingley Lecture - Antarctica: another world for peace and science | Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) skip to content

Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


As we ponder the chaos surrounding leadership and uncertainty in today’s world, it is worth taking time to reflect on those cultures, attitudes and approaches that either bind us together or force us apart. Learning from alternative worlds and realities allows us to reflect on the rights and wrongs of our own beliefs and attitudes.

Madingley Lectures, arranged by the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education present a series of snapshots of other cultures, other worlds, distanced from our own by time and place.

Antarctica: another world for peace and science, Professor Dame Jane Francis

Antarctica is a special continent today because it is governed by the Antarctic Treaty, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The Antarctic Treaty ensures that the continent is preserved for peace and science and that the environment is protected. It also promotes collaboration between the 53 nations working there to tackle the challenges in both science and logistics of working in such a remote and hostile place. Understanding the changes that are taking place in Antarctica are vital for us all - when climate changes it is the sensitive polar regions that signal the first signs of change to come and those changes affect the whole planet through melting ice sheets and warming polar oceans, causing rising sea levels and changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation. Antarctica is other-worldly but intimately linked to us all.

Professor Dame Jane Francis DCMG is Director of the British Antarctic Survey, the first woman to hold that position. She previously worked as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and then Professor of Palaeoclimatology at the University of Leeds, becoming Dean of the Faculty of Environment in 2008. Professor Francis was elected Chancellor of the University of Leeds in 2017.

Jane’s principal interests are in palaeoclimatology and palaeobotany. She specialises in the study of fossil plants from the Arctic and Antarctica and their use as tools for understanding past climate change in the polar regions. She has undertaken more than 16 expeditions to the polar regions. She is the first woman to chair the Operations Working Group of Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings, the international forum of nations concerned with legal and operational issues in Antarctica.

Jane's contributions have been recognised with numerous honours and awards. She holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Plymouth, Leeds, Kent and Southampton. In 2002, she was the fourth woman to receive the Polar Medal for outstanding contribution to British polar research. She was awarded the Geological Society of London’s Coke Medal in 2014, for her "pivotal role in shaping and directing Earth science carried out in polar regions, through her extensive service on a staggeringly wide range of national and international policy committees." In the 2017 New Year Honours List, Professor Francis was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (DCMG) for services to polar science and diplomacy.

Complimentary tea and coffee available on arrival. Cash bar open after the lecture.

Event date

Tuesday, 28 May, 2019 - 18:30


University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education
Madingley Hall
CB23 8AQ